We've heard these questions a lot in the past month, and we asked these questions a lot ourselves before we committed to starting the adoption process.
Adoption involves a lot of different people whose jobs are a necessary part of the process...attorneys, social workers, administrators, government workers, childcare providers, in-country workers (in the case of international adoption), etc. Of course they all need to receive payment for their work; however, when all the financial costs are tallied it becomes a pretty big number.
One of the reasons we chose not to go with domestic infant adoption is that the fees are so high (often $30,000-$50,000+), and most of the money goes to whomever "finds" the baby (usually attorneys and/or the placing agency). We weren't comfortable with the dollar amounts these individuals "made" on each adoption or with the profit-driven mindset that seemed to come across in conversations with several individuals.
Although the international process is certainly not perfect, the numbers make more sense to us. Here's where our money will be going (all numbers are approximate and rounded for simplicity's sake):
2. Agency fee--$4500 (this fee underwrites our agency's administrative/operating costs)
3. Dossier Authentication and Home Study Review--$850
4. Fees to Ethiopia--$8000 (almost $5000 of this goes directly to humanitarian work in Ethiopia-which is required of all agencies adopting children from Ethiopia-and to supporting the orphanage, the rest supports our agency's administrative in-country work in Ethiopia and expenses for our child--medical, childcare, etc.)
5. Government paperwork, documents, and visa fees--$1,500
6. Travel to and from Ethiopia--$8,000 (we'll post more on this another day, but we either have to take two trips to Ethiopia or take one big trip and remain in-country for 5-12 weeks depending on our court date)
Grand Total for one child's adoption: $24,000
If we adopt more than one child then there is an additional fee of $8,000 (which is the same regardless of whether we adopt two or more children).
Grand Total for multiple children's adoption: $32,000
Gulp! That is a lot of cash! Since we don't have a money tree in our apartment, and we aren't gazillionaires (in fact we are a one income family now, with both of us in school), how are we going to pay for this? Well for starters there's a hefty tax credit in 2011 that will refund about $13,000 of adoption expenses per child IF our adoption is finalized by the end of 2011. That would help a lot!
We've already paid the homestudy fee ($2,000), the first part of the agency fee ($2,300), and a chunk of paperwork fees ($500), a total of $4,800. We will need to pay the balance of the agency fee ($2,200) as well as the dossier authentication and homestudy review fee ($850) in late Nov/early Dec if things go according to plan. Depending on how we time our tuition payments we are pretty sure we can squeeze this out of our savings account. After that, we're stepping forward in faith, our liquid assets will be pretty much tapped out so, at a minimum, we could have some cash flow issues.
We have investments that can be liquidated if absolutely necessary, and hopefully we'll get a decent tax return on our 2010 taxes, but we aren't totally sure where the funds will come from for the $8,000-$16,000 we'll need to pay for the Ethiopia fees when we accept the referral of our child/children, or how we will pay the $8,000 for travel to Ethiopia. Since we don't know how long we'll be waiting for referral, we could need those funds in 3 months or in 2 years....we just don't know. It's nice to know that we have investments that could be sold if we get stuck, but we'd like to save those as our back-up plan for when we are actually raising children (since we hear there are lots of expenses--like childcare, braces, college--and since we both have a significant tuition/student loan bills looming in our immediate future).
Despite the fact that I'm a "professional fundraiser" (whatever that means:-)) we're not going to "fundraise" through this blog for our adoption. I know, I know, here I go breaking all the cardinal rules of fundraising....:-)
If you feel led to help us out with adoption and travel costs we will gratefully and gladly accept any help that is offered, but at this point, we're not planning to put a paypal link on our blog or sell t-shirts, coffee, or ornaments. We love the t-shirts, coffee, and ornaments (in fact I own a t-shirt and don't be surprised if you get coffee or ornaments for Christmas:-) but we don't feel right about actively fundraising through this blog for our adoption, particularly since we have investments we could liquidate if we absolutely had to and because we might be eligible for the generous 2011 tax credit. On this blog, we will just be open and transparent about the financial costs associated with adoption and where we are in meeting them. If you feel called to help us, THANK YOU!
If we are fortunate enough to be the recipient of financial gifts for this adoption, and if we receive all or part of that money back through the tax credit, rest assured we will only use the tax credit funds for costs associated with bringing our child/children home (car seats, cribs, strollers, necessary childcare...) or for humanitarian work in Ethiopia. Our hope is that with tax refund funds we would be able to build a well in Ethiopia in honor of our child/children's birth mother through Charity: water and to provide funding for our child's orphanage in Ethiopia. So, if you do give us money and we do get the tax credit, your money could accomplish two amazing things--helping us through the adoption process AND providing aid in Ethiopia.
Whew, this ended up being a really...long...post. Hopefully it helped to shed some light on the financial side of the adoption process and where we are in it. We are more than happy to discuss this in greater detail (we have itemized break-downs of all line items from our agency--yet another reason we are so comfortable with them) but this should give you a good starting framework:-)