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One of the first questions I get from a person who learns my family was created through adoption is, "Doesn't adoption cost a lot of money?"
Adoption can be expensive. My husband and I chose domestic infant adoption which, when using an adoption agency, can cost anywhere from about $15,000 to more than $30,000 per adoption. International adoptions typically cost more. In addition to agency fees, there can be expenses associated with attorneys, court proceedings, birth parents, and travel.
I cannot count the number of times I've been approached by someone who shares with me that he or she has always wanted to adopt, but the steep costs have prevented them from doing so. There are avenues interested persons can consider to help make adoption more affordable:
- Consider adopting a child or children from the foster care system. There are over 100,000 children in the United States who are legally free for adoption. A foster care adoption is often completely free of cost to the adoptive family. And, in some cases, the state from which the child is adopted provides the adoptive parents with a monthly stipend to help with the child's expenses and health insurance.
- Take advantage of the generous federal adoption tax credit. The maximum tax credit in 2010 was $13,170, according to the IRS, which is obviously a large sum of money. There are several stipulations, so potential adoptive parents would be wise to seek counsel from a tax professional.
- Ask your employer about any adoption benefits they offer. Some companies give qualified employees money toward adoption expenses or offer paid adoption leave. If there aren't adoption benefits in place, approach your employer to see if you can work something out on an individual basis.
- Carefully choose your adoption professionals, specifically your agency and attorney. You should ask for an itemized list of standard and potential expenses. Some adoption professionals charge clients on a sliding scale based on income, while others have set fees.
- Apply for adoption scholarships funded by organizations. Ask your adoption professional to offer suggestions on reputable organizations. And, as you would with any application, be aware of with whom you are sharing your personal information.
- Consider taking out an adoption loan. Of course, qualifying for a loan in today's economy almost always requires a good credit score. Many adoptive couples take out a personal loan, paying the majority or all of it back once their adoption tax credit refund arrives.
- Fundraise. Have a yard sale, start a part-time side job to make extra money, or ask family members and friends to place their spare change in a jar to go toward your adoption expenses. Get creative! To us a cliché: every little bit helps.
- Details matter. In some areas of adoption, the person or couple adopting chooses how much to spend. For example, in domestic infant adoption a person or couple puts together an adoptive parent profile book containing family photos and a letter to the expectant parent(s). Beautiful photo books can be professionally composed on sites like Shutterfly or SnapFish, which occasionally offer deep discounts, as posted by the KCL.
If you are dedicated to adopting a child, it is possible to make that dream come true with careful planning and a dose of creativity.
This has been a guest post by Rachel from St. Louis, MO
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