Let me preface this by saying I’m no expert, but I do think I’ve learned a few things along each of the journeys to my two youngest.
Let me also say that not everyone is called to adopt. But we are all called to do our part to help those less fortunate….in this case, the orphans of the world.
This is going to be long…but here goes…
1. Why Adopt?
Please….for the love of all things holy….do not say you’re adopting just to save a child. It should be about more than that. Yes, I guess technically you are “saving” that child, saving him/her from abusive situations, or from starving to death. But that should most definitely not be a reason for adopting. You should want to be growing your family. You should want to be willing to put in the effort…to love that child, knowing they will be bringing lots of baggage to the family…to be willing to spend countless hours researching how to best help your child get through that baggage & learn to trust, love & be a part of a family.
If you’re not willing to put in that time…and you’re not interested in growing your family…that is absolutely FINE! But please, do not adopt! There are many other ways to “save” that orphan. There are many wonderful organizations that would absolutely love to use your donations to help the orphans get the food/clothing/etc. that they need….or a life-changing surgery. Bringing them into your home if you’re not willing to commit 110% to their well-being is not the way to help them.
2. The Process
(I am adopting from China so I will be explaining these steps as they apply to the China process. A lot of the steps will be the same for any international adoption, but some will vary depending on which country you choose.)
OK…now that we’ve determined that you are willing to commit to that child. And do your research & give everything you have to helping them acclimate into your family…where do you start?
A) Do your research & decide on a country that works for you. Some countries have strict guidelines that you might not meet (financial, length of marriage/number of divorces, medical restrictions, etc.). Some countries fees are way out there & there’s just no way you can pay it (hate to focus on the money aspect, but let’s face it…it does play a part). Some countries have astronomical wait times to adopt. Some countries require more than one trip to finalize the adoption (which adds to the financial part). There are many, many programs out there, you just have to research and find the right one for your family.
B) Once you’ve decided on a country you need to start looking into an agency that works with that specific country. There are so many variables that play into choosing an agency…I need to do a separate post on just that. For now just know that each agency charges different rates that include different things. The average for a China adoption is between $26-$30,000, including travel & everything. To me, that’s a big difference in price! $4,000, for the same end result. As with everything, you could pay $30,000 and get crappy service & you could pay $25,000 and get great service. Research, research, research! If you’re on FaceBook there is an awesome resource for rating your agency & getting feedback from others who have used that same agency. It’s an invaluable resource from been there, done that adoptive parents.
C) So….you’ve chosen your agency, now what? A good agency will guide you through each step of the process. Once you’ve chosen an agency, you’ll need to find someone to do a homestudy (a process that educates & prepares you for adoption, and evaluates the parents suitability for adopting. It includes medical checks, background checks, financials, tours of the home, interviews with each parent & child, etc. All done to help prepare you for what’s to come and to make sure the child will be safe & loved and that you are capable of affording & caring for that child). It is required for all adoptions, domestic or international. Some agencies handle the homestudy for you and others allow or require you to find an agency on your own. It will usually take 2-4 months to prepare your homestudy.
D) After your homestudy is complete you will apply for immigration approval. Once that is received, and you have rounded up every paper required by your agency (marriage/birth certificates, passports (for international adoption), medical checks, background checks, etc….these will vary depending on which country you choose), they package this all together (called a dossier) and send it to the central processing agency of the country you have chosen to adopt from.
E) For China, you can either find your child on a waiting list at any point from the time you pick a country until you send your dossier (some agencies keep specific lists of orphanages they partner with, there is also a shared list that all agencies can match from) or you can send your paperwork first and wait for the agency to match you. Once you are matched, you will travel within 3-5 months to bring your child home.
3. The Cost
Please don’t let the cost of an adoption scare off those of you who really want to grow their family. I often hear how someone would love to grow their family & give these children a loving home, but they can’t afford it. I say…unless you have major debt and are living paycheck to paycheck just to make ends meet…where there’s a will, there’s a way!
As stated above, an average adoption from China is $26-$30,000. Do you think I have that just laying around?! NO! And most people don’t.
But there are many, many ways to get it…and lots of programs to help.
A) There is a tax credit of approx. $13,000 that helps offset the cost. It is spread over 5 years, but definitely helps. You can read more about it here.
B) Some companies offer adoption assistance. My husband’s company offers $2500 per adoption.
C) There are many, many grants out there that assist in some of the fees for adoption. Good information here.
D) Fundraising (selling t-shirts, cookbooks, etc.) and getting a 2nd job are also good ways to save up.
The good news is, the payments are spread over time (varies according to agency). We paid all our funds (approx. $9,000) by the time we were matched (except for travel & in country adoption finalization fees), but that was over a 6 month time period. We then had about 5 more months to come up with the remaining fees (approx. $17,000). I won’t lie…it’s not always easy…lots of saving, cutting back on unnecessary expenses (for us that included going out to eat, cable, etc.), etc…whatever it takes. But it can be done!
I think that about covers it. Adoption is messy & expensive & wonderful, all rolled together.