5 Common Questions About Adoption Costs
And American Adoptions' Policies on Each
The cost of adoption can be an uncomfortable subject. Adoption is such an emotional, personal journey. It’s difficult for hopeful adoptive parents to describe how meaningful adoption is to them. In the midst of that, talking about financial costs can be difficult. How can you put a price on something so important?
The truth of the matter is there is a cost associated with adoption, and it’s important for any hopeful adoptive parents to extensively research the cost of adoption. This is a personal and emotional journey, but it is also a practical one. Asking all the questions you have about adoption costs can prepare you for the process and help you find the best adoption professional to work with.
Even though all adoption professionals share the same goal of growing families through adoption, they have their own methods and costs for each of their services. Not all adoption professionals provide the same level of service, and not all use the same fee structure to determine the cost of adopting a child in the U.S.
At American Adoptions, we are committed to complete transparency concerning the cost to adopt a child. An adoptive family deserves to know how much the process will cost and exactly what type of service they will be receiving in return. Any adoption professional that is wary of discussing the cost to adopt should immediately raise a red flag. Even though the subject may feel uncomfortable, it’s vital to be honest about.
The following are five questions about adoption costs that you should ask adoption professionals, along with American Adoptions’ policy on each:
1. What does it cost to adopt a child with your agency, and what is included in the total cost of adoption that is quoted to us?
When you are conducting your research, the total cost to adopt a baby is important to your budget planning. This may seem obvious, but there’s an important distinction between the total cost of adoption and the quote you may receive from some agencies. There are adoption professionals whose original cost estimate lowballs the actual total cost, which results in surprise fees as the process goes along that you may be unprepared for.
When you receive a quote from an adoption professional for services during the adoption process, ask specifically what is included in that quote. Does it include living expenses, medical expenses, legal and termination fees, agency fees and advertising fees? Is it possible that there will be additional fees down the line? Is the agency fee a fixed fee? The answers to these questions can change the total cost to adopt a child.
American Adoptions’ total average adoption costs include living expenses, medical expenses for birth mother and baby, legal and termination fees, agency fees, non-expiring advertising fees, and travel for the agency if necessary. Our agency fees are fixed, and we will never give a low quote to make our agency look better. We believe in the excellent services our team provides and in being completely honest with any prospective adoptive family about the cost of adoption.
2. What expenses are variable with your agency?
Every adoption situation is unique, and certain expenses usually vary based on your specific context. These include things like medical, legal and living expenses for the prospective birth mother. These expenses are going to be flexible with any adoption agency, and they can impact the total cost of adopting a newborn baby. However, some agencies charge other types of variable expenses that can greatly increase or decrease the cost of an adoption.
Advertising is one of the most common expenses that may increase the longer it takes to find your family an adoption opportunity. How does the adoption agency handle advertising expenses? Do they have a time limit on their advertising contract of one or two years that may become increasingly expensive the longer placement takes to complete? Will you have to pay to renew your advertising contract with the agency? This could significantly raise the total cost to adopt.
American Adoptions includes variable expenses like living, legal and medical costs in the average total cost of adoption quoted to you. In addition, all of our agency fees are always fixed; the advertising provided is a non-expiring agreement, and you will only pay a one-time advertising fee no matter how long it takes until an adoption placement is successfully completed.
3. How does your agency make sure the cost of adoption stays within our adoption budget?
Even though the variable expenses listed above may shift during the adoption process, you still set a budget at the beginning of your adoption. Different adoption professionals have different ways of keeping the total cost of adoption in the U.S. within your set budget. Some of these ways are more effective than others.
Sometimes, variable expenses can push the overall cost of an adoption beyond a family’s set budget. For example, what happens if the prospective birth mother is unable to get on Medicaid, dramatically increasing medical expenses? What happens if all of the family’s advertising funds have been used without finding an adoption opportunity? Will you be forced to spend over your budget? What if that isn’t an option? These are questions you should ask any adoption professional about the cost of adopting a child.
American Adoptions’ families have an opportunity to set the boundaries for their adoption through an Adoption Planning Questionnaire. This is a chance to outline what you are looking for in an adoption situation, and also to set a maximum budget for the adoption plan with the help of your adoption specialist. If you are presented with a situation but certain criteria or the cost of the adoption is above or outside the criteria set forth in your questionnaire, you may decline the situation. However, many of the families who are faced with this choice decide to accept the adoption opportunity and find ways to meet the new criteria.
4. How are birth mother expenses handled with your agency?
Birth mother expenses are the court-approved funds that adoptive families provide to prospective birth mothers to help cover their pregnancy-related expenses. This can include items such as rent, maternity clothing, utilities, personal hygiene and groceries. Birth mother expenses contribute to total adoption costs, and the way an adoption professional handles these expenses is important.
What structures does the adoption professional have in place to help mediate these funds to ensure they are used for their intended purpose? How are funds for birth mother expenses collected from the adoptive family?
At American Adoptions, an adoption specialist works with each prospective birth mother to assess her personal needs and help create a budget based off both her needs and applicable state law. American Adoptions then follows the budget and guidelines for provision of living expenses, attempting to directly pay third parties such as landlords, doctors and utility companies. This ensures that all of the adoptive family’s funds are being used in the right way, and it helps control the cost of adopting a baby.
5. What happens if the prospective birth mother chooses to parent?
Adoption disruptions are not extremely common, but they are possible. Any hopeful adoptive parent should be aware of this. In some cases, due to a variety of potential reasons, an adoption can be stopped after the adoption opportunity has already been accepted. One of the most common reasons for an adoption disruption is when a prospective birth mother changes her mind and decides to parent her baby.
This can be hard to handle for any adoptive family. There is an emotional pain that comes first, and that can take time to deal with. There are also practical matters that have to be handled when an adoption is disrupted, and the way an adoption professional treats these matters can impact your total cost to adopt a baby.
What happens to the adoption expenses that have already been paid when an adoption is disrupted? What happens to the birth mother expenses? Medical expenses? Legal expenses? Agency fees? Advertising expenses? Are any of these fees refunded, or are they simply lost?
Agencies will answer these questions in a variety of ways. Some do not offer refunds, which is always a cause for concern. Others will offer something called a “rollover” policy, when means that the expenses paid toward a disrupted adoption will be rolled over into a new adoption opportunity. While this is better than totally losing funds, it is still not ideal since your money is tied up with that agency. You may find an adoption opportunity with another agency, or you may want to step away from the adoption process to recover from the loss of the first opportunity. With a rollover policy, you cannot get your money back in either of these cases.
American Adoptions’ Risk-Sharing Program refunds all agency fees, living expenses, medical expenses and termination fees on a non-contested adoption directly back to you, greatly reducing the risk of a ballooning total cost of adoption. This approach gives you the most security and freedom in case of a disrupted adoption. It also keeps your advertising expense valid, so you may immediately regain active status to pursue new adoption opportunities whenever you are ready.
These are the most common questions American Adoptions receives about the cost of adoption, but they are not the only questions we receive. If you have unanswered questions about the adoption process cost, call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time to speak with an adoption specialist, or request more free adoption information. You can also read our extensive informational guide to adoption costs here.
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