Saturday, July 28, 2012

Breakdown of Adoption Costs & How It Isn't "Child Buying"

I am hearing buzzing about adoption funds more than I ever have before and I felt it was important to address it from as neutral a point of view as possible.  I'm hearing more and more "Why does it have to be so expensive?" and "Why do they charge so much for children?"  It's extremely uncomfortable for people to think of money changing hands at ALL when a child is involved.  I totally get that and 100% agree. The problem is people have to get paid, NOT FOR THE CHILD, but for the services they provide to legally process the adoption.  With the average cost of an international adoption being between $18-30k, I would like to break down where a lot of these fees (based on an Ethiopian adoption...other countries vary slightly but not a terribly amount) go in order, for the most part, they are due. 

The Homestudy - $1500-3000 - This fee goes to a social worker or the agency where the social worker works who spends several weeks working with your family to ensure that you are qualified to adopt.  They do many criminal background checks (often at the county, state, and federal level), a child protection background check, make you do training on adoption and specifically the type of child you are planning to adopt (special needs, older, younger, etc), visit with your family and interview everyone in the home to see if you are prepared and ready, look through your home to see if your home is safe and adequate size for a child, look over your financial situation to see if you can afford to raise said child, etc.  It also includes the costs of photocopying documents, obtaining documents (birth certificates have to be issued recently and they are $10-30 each), passports, etc.  Then they spend a great amount of time typing up a summary, your homestudy, of all their findings which will be a 6-12 page document.  It's a very GOOD thing and the first safety net to make sure certain creepers don't get their hands on children. lol  This person is completely separate from the origin of the child and is also required for US/domestic adoption.

US Immigration - $890 - This fee is for the US office of immigration (USCIS) to look over our information, fingerprint us (yet another background check), and determine if we meet the US criteria to bring a foreigner into the country on a visa.  This fee is also completely separate from the origin of the child.

Adoption Agency fee - $3500-7000, roughly - This fee goes toward paying the social workers who work at the agency for the many hours they spend compiling the children's files and information, helping the families with their paperwork, organizing and compiling a family's dossier, agency overhead, state/federal seals for the documents (this really adds up) as well as courier fees for those documents, training programs for families, etc.

International fee - roughly $4000-5000 - This fee goes to the agency contacts in Ethiopia.  It is spent on paying someone for the translation of the dossier (a very detailed look at your family, including your homestudy and immigration approval); fees for govermentment documents like embassy paperwork, birth certificates, passports, etc.; in country social services (community outreach and services the agency facilitates); facilitation of the adoption (acting as the family's hands and feet in the government agencies in the country to complete the adoption); travel coordination; orphanage fee (upkeep, buying supplies, paying nannies, utilities, etc); and childcare (approximately the amount of money spent on your child's nutrition, medical, schooling, etc. while they are waiting to be picked up).

Travel - $6000-15,000 - Two trips are required for Ethiopia and many/most other countries.  This is approximately how much will be spent on plane tickets ($1500 - 2000 each person/each trip), hotel costs, food costs, transportation costs, etc.  This fee, of course, goes to airlines and in country companies, not to anyone relating to the child.

Embassy Visa - $400 each child - fee for each child to receive a US visa to enter the US as your child.  Again, not a fee associated with the child.

So as you can see, only a small portion of that actually goes into the hands of an adoption agency for their services.  Absolutely ZERO money should ever go into the hands of the families placing their children for adoption and no more than an average salary should ever go into the hands of the facilitator who works in adoption in the country.  It happens and those are the stories that hit the news.  It's widespread, IMO, more than it should be, but that's why it's very important to investigate EXTENSIVELY any situation you consider involving yourself in.  In a perfect world people could work such selfless jobs for no pay, but it doesn't work like that.  

No one likes to talk about the fees relating to adoption, but it's a very real thing and something that can't be ignored.  Just like giving birth to a child costs a great deal of money, so does adoption.  The difference is many people have medical insurance to help cover the costs associated with giving birth.  Families who choose to adopt, must come up with all of that money on their own.  That's understandable and the family knows what they are getting into when they decide to adopt, but they aren't usually prepared for the criticism they get for choosing to adopt or discuss the costs of their adoption.  I can remember my mom saying in a very factual way how much each of our hospital and doctor fees were relating to our births, mostly relating how rapidly it increased over her childbearing years.  I have also discussed this with my kids....i.e. " Kollin, your c-section was $3000, and anesthesia alone was $1800!"  Or "Karly, you spent 9 days in the NICU which ended up costing $42,000!  Thank goodness for good insurance!"  None of that is considered taboo.  It isn't being said in a "you owe me that....turn out good" kind of way.  We don't expect our children feel grateful that we "paid" that for them to be born any less than we expect our adopted children to be grateful we "paid" for their adoption to be legal.  But mention that an adoption costs $x amount and everyone goes insane.  We have discussed it with our adopted children as well.  We explained exactly why their adoptions cost so much and then compared it to how our biological children came with their own costs.  My kids are 100% completely FINE with it and have a healthy view of this.  My adopted kids don't feel like they have to live up to anything because attorneys, social workers, and travel costs totaled $xyz.  It is what it is and we don't skirt around those facts.  It sucks that children sometimes loose parents and need to be adopted.  It sucks that it costs money to legally make that happen.  But it is what it is.  No need to hide it because there's no need for the child or the family to be ashamed of it.  It just is what it is.  

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1 comment:

Sonya said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you for the "breakdown" of fees. I've had many people making the same comment about how much we "paid" for our child, as if she/he was a purchase.