How to Make Adoption an Affordable Option

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1 How to Make Adoption an Affordabe Option

2 How to Make Adoption an Affordabe Option 2015 Nationa Endowment for Financia Education. A rights reserved. The content areas in this materia are beieved to be current as of this printing, but over time, egisative and reguatory changes, as we as new deveopments, may date this materia.

3 Tabe of Contents Introduction 4 How to Use this Booket 4 Adoption Terminoogy 5 Pubic Adoption Agency 5 Private Adoption Agency 5 Adoption Exchange 5 Waiting Chid, Chid with Specia Needs 5 6 Foster-to-Adopt Home 6 Open, Semi-Open, and Cosed Adoption 6 7 Sidebar: Myths About Adoption 6 Myth 1: A Adoptions Are Expensive 6 Myth 2: Adoptive Famiies Must Be Rich 6 Myth 3: Adoptive Famiies Must Own Their Own Homes 6 Myth 4: Adoptive Parents Must Be Married and Without Chidren 8 Myth 5: Adoptive Famiies Must Pay for Everything 8 Myth 6: Lega Fees Are High 8 Independent Adoption 7 Intercountry Adoption 7 Kinship or Reative Adoption 7 8 Guardianship 8 Home Study, Home Adoption Study 8 Pre-Pacement 9 Pacement 9 Post-Pacement 9 Finaization 9 Post-Adoption 9 An Overview of the Adoption Process 10 Genera Steps 11 The Home Study Tips for Seecting an Adoption Agency or Lawyer How Long Wi It Take? 13 Adoption Expenses 14 Adoption Fees 15 Home Study Expenses 15 Parenting or Adoption Information Casses 15 Home Study Updates Lega and Court Costs 16 Finaizing the Adoption 16 Terminating the Bioogica Parents Rights 16 Lega Chaenges to Adoption 17 Misceaneous Expenses 17 Transfer Costs 17 Expenses Reated to Specific Adoption Types 18 Waiting Chid Adoption 19 Expenses Reated to Finding a Chid 19 Pre-Pacement Visit Expenses 19 Counseing Expenses 19 Medica Expenses 19 Independent Adoption 20 Expenses Reated to Finding a Chid 20 Lega Expenses 20 Birth Expenses 20 Adoption Insurance Expenses 21

4 Intercountry Adoption 21 Lega, Agency, and Chid Care Expenses 21 Paperwork Expenses 21 Trave Expenses 22 Potentia Risks 22 Kinship/Reative Adoption 22 Post-Adoption Expenses 23 Preparing for a Chid 24 Persona Records and Heath Care 24 Sidebar: Typica Chid-Raising Expenses 24 Birth Certificate 25 Socia Security Number 25 Heath Care Immunization and Heath History 25 Heath Care Coverage 25 Services 25 Tutoring 25 Specia Education 26 Counseing 26 Financia Resources for Adoption Expenses 27 Adoption Tax Credits 28 Quaified Adoption Expenses 28 Nonquaified Adoption Expenses 28 Caiming the Adoption Tax Credit Income Tax Dependency Exemption 29 Assistance/Subsidies and Taxabe Income 29 Financia Resources for Waiting Chid Adoptions 30 Assistance with Nonrecurring Adoption Expenses 30 Tite IV-E Adoption Assistance Programs 31 Assistance with Medica Expenses 31 Assistance from Socia Services 31 Miitary Subsidies Caiming the Adoption Reimbursement 32 Miitary Assistance for Adoption 32 Empoyee Benefits Programs Federa Famiy and Medica Leave Act 33 Siding-Scae Fees 34 Loans 34 Possibe Loan Sources 34 Loan Sources to Avoid 34 How to Make Adoption an Affordabe Option Support for Adoptive Famiies 35 Support Groups 35 Parenting or Adoption Casses 35 Panning for a Chid s Future 36 Wis and Trusts 36 Beneficiary Designation 37 Trusts for Chidren with Disabiities 37 Birth Parent Search 37 Concusion 38 Resources 39 Adoption Checkist 39 Adoption Information 39 Acknowedgments 40

5 INTRODUCTION Many prospective adoptive parents are highy motivated to adopt a chid, but are concerned that the process may be too compex and expensive. Other parents, who are in the midst of the adoption process, are surprised by the various expenses. The Nationa Endowment for Financia Education (NEFE ), the Adoption Exchange, and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption are providing this booket, How to Make Adoption an Affordabe Option, to hep parents prepare for a the financia costs of adopting and raising a chid. This booket covers expenses common to most adoptions, expenses unique to the various types of adoption, financia assistance for adoption and post-adoption expenses, and tax breaks avaiabe to adoptive parents. Prospective adoptive famiies need not be deterred by myths about the expense of adoption, but they aso shoud not aow emotions to bind them to the rea costs. With carefu financia panning, adoption can be an affordabe option. 4 How to Use this Booket How to Make Adoption an Affordabe Option is fexibe enough for both prospective adoptive parents who are new to the process and those who aready have done their research but need specific information about finances. Parents can read this booket from start to finish or use the tabe of contents to find the specific information they need. Web references: This book frequenty refers to reiabe resources on the Internet. To find the information referenced in this booket, visit the cited website and enter the pubication s name in the search fied. Chid Wefare Information Gateway: The U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services Administration of Chidren and Famiies department provides a great dea of reiabe information on its Chid Wefare Information Gateway website, As with other references, enter the pubication or page name in the search fied.

6 Adoptive parents and adoptive famiies: The terms adoptive parents and adoptive famiies are used to describe any parties interested in adoption, from singe parents to married coupes to famiies and everything in between. For more information on a aspects of adoption, visit the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption website at and downoad a copy of the free Step-by- Step Guide to Adoption. Aso visit the The Adoption Exchange website at Adoption Terminoogy To understand the adoption process and a of its direct and reated expenses, it heps to understand adoption terminoogy. Pubic Adoption Agency A pubic adoption agency is a state or county agency responsibe for pacing waiting chidren in foster care with adoptive parents. The agencies often have names such as department of socia services, department of human services, or department of chidren and famiy services. Private Adoption Agency A private adoption agency is a nonprofit or for-profit agency icensed by the state. Private agencies tend to speciaize in areas such as infant adoptions, domestic adoptions, or adoptions of chidren born outside the United States. Some work with pubic agencies to pace chidren who are in foster care, and they receive government contracts to do so. Other private adoption agencies rey on fees and donations rather than government funding. Adoption Exchange An adoption exchange provides connections between prospective adoptive parents and adoption agencies that pace chidren. Many states have a nonprofit, state-operated exchange that maintains a ist of adoptabe chidren waiting in the foster care system, aong with a ist of adoptive parents who have competed an adoption home study with a state agency. Many states and agencies have websites showing photos of the chidren waiting to be adopted. Regiona, nationa, and intercountry exchanges are nonprofit organizations that serve waiting chidren and adoptive parents in more than one state. These agencies often showcase photos of waiting chidren in print and onine, and they provide basic adoption information and reated services. Some exchanges aso ist potentia adoptive parents who have competed home studies and are waiting to adopt. Waiting Chid, Chid with Specia Needs Some states use the terms waiting chid and chid with specia needs interchangeaby in reation to a chid s eigibiity for federa financia assistance. In genera, however, the terms are defined as foows: Waiting chid: A chid who is in foster care and waiting for adoption is referred to as a waiting chid. These chidren come into the foster care system because of their parents actions; they may have been abused, negected, or abandoned. The majority of waiting chidren are schoo age, and some are brothers and sisters who need to be adopted together. Most chidren adopted through state or county adoption agencies are considered waiting chidren. How to Make Adoption an Affordabe Option 5

7 Myths About Adoption When peope express interest in adoption, they may encounter a variety of reactions, such as Are you sure you can afford that? or But you have to be married to adopt! Many reactions to the idea of adoption are based on myths. Myth 1: A Adoptions Are Expensive Adoption costs vary widey, depending on the type of adoption. According to the Chid Wefare Information Gateway, the range of adoption costs incudes: Waiting chid: no cost to $2,500 Private adoption agency: $5,000 to $40,000 Independent adoption: $8,000 to $40,000 Intercountry adoption: $15,000 to $30,000 Many pubic agencies provide adoption subsidies for chidren who are waiting for a famiy, and some private agencies may adjust fees based on famiy income or other criteria. For more information about costs and ways to defray them, see the Costs of Adopting fact sheet at Myth 2: Adoptive Famiies Must Be Rich Many peope with average incomes and modest homes adopt chidren every year. Adoption professionas who make decisions about pacing chidren consider emotiona maturity and financia stabiity more than actua income. Myth 3: Adoptive Famiies Must Own Their Own Homes Renters and homeowners can adopt as ong as the home has adequate space for the chid. Chid with specia needs: The Interna Revenue Service defines a chid with specia needs as a minor who shoud not be returned to his or her parents home and whose adoption is unikey uness assistance is provided. See the Specia Needs Adoption: What Does It Mean fact sheet at for more information about definitions of specia needs and cost specifications. Foster-to-Adopt Home A foster-to-adopt home is approved for both foster care and adoption. Sometimes chidren who are removed from their homes because of abuse or negect are paced with adoption-minded individuas, coupes, and famiies in foster-to-adopt homes. The chidren are not egay avaiabe for adoption at the time of pacement, so there is a chance the chid wi be reunited with his or her famiy. Depending on the reason the chid was removed from the home, the chid may return home in a process known as reunification. Reunification requires the parent(s) to resove the issues invoved in the remova and prove that they can adequatey care for the chid and ensure his or her safety. If the issues remain unresoved and the parents rights are egay terminated, the chid becomes avaiabe for adoption. With foster-to-adopt homes, the transition to a new permanent home can be made more seamessy. Open, Semi-Open, and Cosed Adoption Open adoption, semi-open adoption, and cosed adoption are generay defined as foows. Note that individua agencies may have different interpretations of these terms. 6

8 Open adoption: An open adoption is one in which ast names, addresses, and teephone numbers typicay are exchanged. In addition, the birth parent(s), the adoptive famiy, and in some cases the chid may visit on a reguar basis. In a fuy open adoption, the birth parent(s) and the adoptive famiy know each other and have ongoing communications about the chid. Semi-open adoption: In a semi-open adoption, the focus is on privacy. As a resut, communication is more imited. Last names, addresses, and teephone numbers usuay are not exchanged; information sharing is ess frequent; and a communication takes pace through a third party, usuay the adoption agency. Cosed adoption: In a cosed adoption, the focus is on confidentiaity. No identifying information about the birth famiy or the adoptive famiy is shared and the famiies do not communicate with each other. The adoptive famiy usuay receives nonidentifying information about the chid and the birth famiy before pacement. After adoption, the records are seaed permanenty. Typicay the records remain seaed uness a court order is obtained or, in some states, unti the adopted chid reaches aduthood. Most adoptions of waiting chidren are cosed adoptions. Foster parents are encouraged to work with birth parents so there may be a reationship between the birth famiy and foster/adoptive famiy that continues even after the adoption. See the Considering Openness in Adoption section at for more information. Independent Adoption An independent adoption is arranged through a third party, such as a awyer or doctor. The third party may find a birth mother who pans to pace her chid for adoption or hep the birth mother ocate a famiy interested in adopting her chid. Note that independent adoptions are ega in most, but not a, states. To find out if your state aows independent adoptions, visit and see the Chid Wefare Information Gateway s state statute onine booket, Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Pace a Chid for Adoption. Or, search the state statutes database to see how your state addresses nonagency pacement in statute. Intercountry Adoption An intercountry adoption invoves a chid born in (or a naturaized citizen of) a country other than the United States. See the Adopting Chidren from Another Country section at for more information. Kinship or Reative Adoption A kinship or reative adoption is one in which the chid is adopted by someone reated by famiy ties or prior reationship. The kin or reative may be a bood reative, in-aw, stepparent, or other person with a cose reationship to the chid. (The definition of reative varies by state aw.) About 30 percent of chidren adopted from foster care are adopted by reatives according to the Adoption and Foster Care Anaysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), athough some reatives choose to be the chid s guardian to preserve the chid's ega ties to one or both parents. There are many benefits to being adopted by reatives, such as increased stabiity and safety for the chid as we as the abiity to maintain famiy connections and cutura traditions. How to Make Adoption an Affordabe Option 7

9 Myth 4: Adoptive Parents Must Be Married and Without Chidren Singe peope, coupes without chidren, and famiies who aready have chidren by birth or adoption can adopt. In some states, singe esbians and gay men can adopt, and a few states aow same-sex coupes to adopt. However, many private agencies and foreign countries have specific requirements for the marita status, sexua orientation, age, weight, income, number of chidren, and reigion of peope who adopt their chidren. See Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Pace a Chid for Adoption? at for more information. Myth 5: Adoptive Famiies Must Pay for Everything A variety of financia resources may be avaiabe to hep famiies cover some of the costs of adoption, incuding siding-scae fees from agencies, federa and state subsidies for the adoption and ongoing care of waiting chidren, federa tax credits, and empoyer benefits that hep with quaified expenses. Myth 6: Lega Fees Are High Usuay, ega fees are a sma portion of the adoption costs, with the exception of independent adoptions handed by a awyer. The ega fees may be incuded in an agency s fees or they may be an additiona cost to the adopting famiy. Usuay, there are no ega fees for famiies adopting chidren from foster care as these fees typicay are covered by nonrecurring adoption subsidies. See the Kinship Care and Kinship Adoption section at for information on kinship adoption from foster care as we as information on adopting a reative through intercountry adoption. For stepparent adoption, states often streamine the adoption process. For more information, see Stepparent Adoption at Guardianship A reative may become a ega guardian for a chid rather than competing an adoption. Unike adoption, guardianship does not sever the parents rights and the caregiver does not become the ega parent. The parents can petition the court to end the guardianship at any time. Guardians generay are abe to access services on behaf of the chid. Some states offer guardians monthy subsidies to hep with the expense of caring for the chid unti age 18 or 21. For detais, see Subsidized Guardianship at Home Study, Home Adoption Study A home study, sometimes caed a home adoption study, prepares and evauates the prospective adoptive parents and heps match the famiy with a chid. For more information, see The Adoption Home Study Process fact sheet at 8

10 Pre-Pacement The pre-pacement period is the time between the competion of the home study and when the chid comes to ive with the adoptive famiy. Pacement Pacement occurs when a chid moves in with the famiy who pans to adopt him or her. Post-Pacement Post-pacement is the time after the chid has been paced in the adoptive home and before finaization. The socia worker conducting post-pacement supervision wi visit the home severa times during the six to 12 months between pacement and finaization. During this time, the socia worker wi provide support for the adoptive parents and chid and hep obtain any necessary professiona assistance. A certain number of visits are required by the courts before the adoption can be finaized. How to Make Adoption an Affordabe Option Finaization Finaization is when the court takes the necessary action to make the chid a ega member of the adoptive famiy. Usuay, the whoe famiy goes to court with an adoption worker or awyer. Post-Adoption Post-adoption is not a specific period of time instead, it is the active, rewarding, and chaenging process of iving as a famiy after the adoption has been egay finaized. 9

11 AN OVERVIEW OF THE ADOPTION PROCESS The adoption process varies significanty depending on the type of adoption. In most cases prospective parents wi request hep from a pubic or private adoption agency, a awyer, or another intermediary. Many different expenses, federa aws, state aws, and county reguations may be invoved, creating a possiby confusing and compex experience. An overview of the process, which is provided here, can hep prospective adoptive parents with decision making. For more detais, downoad the Step-by-Step Guide to Adoption avaiabe on the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption website at foundation.org. Aso see the State Laws on Adoption section at 10

12 Genera Steps The actua steps invoved in an adoption may vary depending on the type of adoption. In genera, adoptive parents take most of the foowing steps: 1. Learn about adoption by researching on the Internet, taking to adoptive parents, reading pubications, and contacting an adoptive parent group that wecomes prospective adoptive individuas and coupes. TIP For intercountry adoptions, pro spective parents are encouraged to research medica and psychoogica issues that are common in internationa adoptees. 2. Attend adoption information casses. 3. Consider their own feeings about adoption and the preferred type of adoption to pursue for exampe, waiting chid, foster-to-adopt, intercountry, agency, or independent adoption. 4. Consider preferences regarding an open, semi-open, or cosed adoption. TIP In genera, waiting chidren adoptions (chidren adopted from foster care) are considered cosed adoptions. 5. Interview severa agencies or awyers experienced in the preferred type of adoption. Attend orientation meetings and then seect an agency or awyer. 6. Have a home study competed. (See the next section, The Home Study.) 7. Start the process of finding a chid for the famiy based on recommendations from an agency, icensed socia worker, or awyer. TIP Whie waiting for a chid, continue earning about adoption. 8. Prepare for the chid to come home. Open adoption: For an open infant adoption, preparation may incude visits with the birth parent(s). Waiting chid: For a waiting chid adoption, pre-pacement visits with the chid wi be hed at a mutuay agreed-upon ocation and time. Intercountry: Adopting a chid from another country may require trave to the chid s country to finaize the adoption. 9. Bring the chid home. 10. Begin the adjustment period as a new famiy. 11. Finaize the adoption. 12. Continue the ifeong adoption experience. The Home Study Home studies are not standardized and may vary from state to state and agency to agency. The type of adoption ikey wi infuence who performs the home study; it is important to choose the appropriate adoption agency or icensed socia worker to perform the home study so it wi be accepted by the court. Note that the home study process may be streamined, or not required, for reative/kinship adoptions and stepparent adoptions. Check with the state or county department of socia services for guidance. How to Make Adoption an Affordabe Option 11

13 Expect some or a of the foowing to be part of the home study process: Interviews with the prospective adoptive appicant(s) individuay and together (if a coupe) In the course of the home study process, prospective adoptive parents wi have the opportunity to tak with the socia worker about the foowing topics: Why they want to adopt Group meetings invoving severa appicant famiies (many agencies do this) Autobiographies written by each prospective adoptive parent A home visit Medica reports from the prospective adoptive appicant(s) physicians References from friends and associates Proof of empoyment Investigations into any crimina record, incuding the state s chid abuse registry, and fingerprinting (see the Adam Wash Chid Protection and Safety Act of 2006 section at for detais) Participation in adoption information training casses Persona financia information Copies of tax returns Beiefs about discipine and the methods used For intercountry adoptions, famiies may need to prove to the U.S. government income and/or assets that put them at 125 percent or more above the poverty eve for the size of famiy that incudes the chid to be adopted (for the most current information on this topic, see the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services HHS Poverty Guideines for Affidavit of Support form at Their readiness to parent The famiy s vaues Their hopes and expectations for the adoptive chid Their famiy s strengths and weaknesses How the famiy handes crises and change Where they wi get support or professiona hep, if needed Tips for Seecting an Adoption Agency or Lawyer Each entity in the adoption process sets its own fees for adoption services. As of this writing, there is no centra rating service that monitors and/or evauates adoption agencies and services. Foow these tips to hep ensure a smooth and affordabe process: Compare adoption fees among adoption agencies, adoption awyers, and other adoption arrangers (intermediaries). Read the How to Assess the Reputation of Licensed, Private Adoption Agencies section at 12

14 Ask the state or county socia services department for the name of the government entity that oversees adoption to verify the reputation of the adoption agency, awyer, or intermediary. Tak to parents who have adopted and members of adoptive parent support groups to get recommendations (or warnings) about the adoption entities in the area. Carify upfront and in writing exacty what the stated adoption fee wi cover and what it wi not cover throughout the adoption process. Some agencies, awyers, and intermediaries may quote a certain fee, but ater add other charges such as postpacement fees and court costs. Ask about payment schedues. Do not pay 100 percent of the adoption costs in advance. Payments shoud be made as each step of the process is competed. How Long Wi It Take? A prospective adoptive parents usuay fee they are waiting parents. Adoption can be a ong, sow process. During the beginning stages, it can seem a bit overwheming and some adoptive parents begin to wonder if the process is worth it. It is important for prospective parents to try to be patient and remember that they can have a positive effect on the ife of a chid. The time it takes to bring a chid home varies greaty depending on the type of adoption and any unforeseeabe circumstances that may arise in day-today activities. Here are some possibe timetabes: Heathy infant: Severa months up to seven years Waiting chid: Four months up to 18 months How to Make Adoption an Affordabe Option Be wary of agencies, awyers, and intermediaries that charge high fees, want a retainer paid in fu upon appication without any provisions for a refund, guarantee a chid, or want discaimers signed before meetings or searching for a chid. Intercountry: Six months up to 24 months Finaizing an adoption usuay occurs six months to one year after pacement. 13

15 ADOPTION EXPENSES Adoption expenses vary depending on the type of adoption preferred and the agency, awyer, or intermediary seected. Most adoptions, however, invove a combination of fees, home study expenses, ega costs, and misceaneous expenses (such as trave and paperwork). The expenses common to most adoptions are isted here; for additiona possibe expenses, see Expenses Reated to Specific Adoption Types on page 18. Keep in mind that many financia resources are avaiabe to hep with these expenses as discussed in Financia Resources for Adoption Expenses starting on page

16 Adoption Fees Adoption fees encompass various costs of working with a pubic adoption agency, private adoption agency, awyer, or other intermediary. Generay, adoption fees incude the costs of a home study, pre-adoptive counseing, identifying a chid for the famiy, pacement fees, and post-pacement visits. Waiting chid: Adoptions for chidren waiting in foster care may invove ony minima costs and often are free of charge. Independent adoption: For an independent adoption, the birth mother s iving and deivery expenses may be incuded or may be separate expenses. Intercountry: For an intercountry adoption, the adoption fee may or may not incude the costs of visas, dossier preparation, document transation, and other expenses unique to adopting chidren from other countries. Fees charged by private adoption agencies and intermediaries can range from $5,000 to as high as $40,000, and possiby more. Be sure to understand which services in the adoption process are incuded and which are separate expenses. For more information, see the Costs of Adopting fact sheet at Home Study Expenses The cost of the home study usuay is incuded in the adoption fees, but it can be a separate cost in some cases. The home study fee depends on the type of adoption. Many agencies assisting in adoptions of chidren in foster care may not charge a fee for the study. If these agencies do charge a fee, often it is around $300 to $500. After the adoption is finaized, the fee often is reimbursed. If adoptive parents ive overseas, are pursuing an independent adoption, or have an independent professiona (usuay a icensed socia worker in private practice) perform the home study, the fee coud range from $1,000 to $3,000 for the home study. The home study fee may incude other services, such as an appication fee and pre-pacement services. Be sure to understand what the fee covers and what it does not cover, and ask for this information in writing. Parenting or Adoption Information Casses Adoptive parents may be required to take parenting or adoption information casses as part of the home study process. A registration fee to cover the costs of materias may be charged as part of the adoption process. Even if the casses are not mandatory, they may provide hepfu information. Home Study Updates Home studies are considered current for a imited time period, often six to 18 months. Many states require home studies to be updated after a year. Depending on the type of adoption, it may take years to adopt a chid. Therefore, the home study may need to be updated mutipe times during the wait. Ask the agency that performs the home study about the costs for updating it. How to Make Adoption an Affordabe Option 15

17 The home study aso needs to be updated for any subsequent adoptions, particuary if severa years have passed or if the adoptive parents use a different agency, awyer, or intermediary. Lega and Court Costs The majority of adoptions invove ega and court costs for finaizing the adoption. In some cases adoptive parents may face costs for terminating the bioogica parents rights or even for contending with a ega chaenge to the adoption. Finaizing the Adoption Adoptions are finaized as foows: Domestic adoption: A domestic adoptions must be finaized in a state court. American Indian chid adoptions: When adopting an American Indian chid, the tribe needs to be notified as required by the Indian Chid Wefare Act. In some cases the adoption must be finaized in an Indian triba court because reservations and puebos are sovereign nations. In addition, specific triba aws and procedures wi need to be foowed. For detais, see the Indian Chid Wefare Act section at and the Resources section on the Nationa Indian Chid Wefare Association s website at Intercountry: Most intercountry adoptions are finaized in the chid s country of origin. However, in some cases the intercountry adoption must be finaized in the United States. For an intercountry adoption, under the Chid Citizenship Act, naturaization is now automatic at the time of finaization. Even when the adoption is finaized in the birth country, many famiies choose to re-adopt the chid in the United States so they can share that important day with famiy and friends, in addition to getting a birth certificate in Engish. The intercountry adoption agency shoud be abe to specify where the finaization needs to occur during this process. For more information, see The Chid Citizenship Act of 2000 fact sheet on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website at Terminating the Bioogica Parents Rights For a chid to be egay adopted, the bioogica parents must vountariy and egay reinquish their parenta rights, or the courts must terminate their rights invountariy. When a chid is adopted the court creates a new ega reationship between the chid and the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents are not responsibe for the court costs reated to invountary termination. See the Grounds for Invountary Termination of Parenta Rights section at for more information. In some intercountry and independent adoptions the adoptive parents may have to pay the ega costs of terminating the rights of the bioogica parents. It is important to be sure that the parenta rights of both bioogica parents have been reinquished or terminated before adopting a chid. Often, the adoption cases that receive media attention resut from parenta rights that were not correcty terminated during the process. 16

18 Lega Chaenges to Adoption Lega chaenges to adoption are rare. If an adoptive pacement is chaenged, however, the ega expenses for the adoptive famiy can be extremey high. Adoptive parents can take financia steps, such as estabishing an emergency fund, to reduce the financia impact of a ega chaenge to the adoption. Adoptive parents shoud carefuy proceed through the steps of the adoption process to reduce the ikeihood of a ega chaenge in the first pace. The safest way to avoid expensive court battes is to be certain, in advance, that the adopted chid is egay free to be adopted meaning that the parenta rights of both bioogica parents have been reinquished or terminated in or by the courts. Misceaneous Expenses Throughout the adoption process various out-of-pocket expenses may arise. Athough these costs usuay are minor, it s best to be prepared for them. For exampe, consider the costs reated to the foowing possibe activities: Traveing to and from the office of the adoption agency, awyer, or intermediary Competing and photocopying records and other paperwork Taking time off work for interviews and home studies Arranging for chid care for any chidren in the househod Preparing for internationa trave, such as getting immunizations and passports Paying for trave, accommodations, and meas for possibe ong stays in other countries for intercountry adoption Transfer Costs Sometimes, adoptive parents must move as a resut of a job transfer or miitary reassignment before competing the adoption process. In the best situations the adoptions can be competed if the initia adoption agency is wiing to coaborate with the adoption agency in the new ocation. Otherwise, adoptive parents may need to start the adoption process over. In either case new adoption expenses may be incurred. Adoption fees aready paid to the origina adoption agency often wi not be refundabe because that work aready has been competed. If a move appears ikey during the adoption process, carify this in advance with the agency or adoption faciitator. How to Make Adoption an Affordabe Option 17

19 EXPENSES RELATED TO SPECIFIC ADOPTION TYPES Many adoption expenses, such as court costs, are common to neary a adoptions. (Those expenses were discussed in the previous section, Adoption Expenses.) Waiting chid, independent, and intercountry adoptions, however, have additiona possibe expenses. Prospective adoptive parents can earn about these expenses in this section. In many cases financia resources are avaiabe to hep with these expenses as discussed in the Financia Resources for Adoption Expenses section starting on page

20 Waiting Chid Adoption Waiting chidren are defined as chidren who are egay avaiabe for adoption and whose parents have had their parenta rights terminated. Athough adopting a chid waiting in foster care may invove itte or no direct expense, some other expenses are unique to this type of adoption. Expenses Reated to Finding a Chid Many chidren are waiting for good homes. To find a waiting chid an adoptive famiy might: Work with a socia worker at a pubic agency to find a chid in foster care who might fit into the famiy. Check out oca waiting chidren featured on teevision and in newspapers. Review photos and istings of waiting chidren on adoption exchange and adoption agency websites. Register with an adoption exchange for its chid-matching program. The exchange may charge a nomina amount for subscribing to its photo isting book to hep with identifying a chid. Some exchanges aso offer waiting adoptive famiies the opportunity to be featured in the photo isting book for a nomina fee. Pre-Pacement Visit Expenses Prospective adoptive parents usuay wi visit a waiting chid severa times before bringing the chid home. If the chid ives in another community, perhaps even in another state, parents probaby wi be expected to trave at east once, and often severa times, to the chid s pace of residence. See the Adopting Chidren from Other States or Jurisdictions section at for detais. Athough the chid s agency may hep with some of the costs for transportation, food, and odging, parents probaby wi need to cover some of these costs. Counseing Expenses Many waiting chidren have experienced severe emotiona trauma from abuse, negect, or abandonment. Most have suffered mutipe osses of important peope in their ives, such as birth parents, sibings, other reatives, and oving foster famiies. Therefore, individua and/or famiy counseing may be hepfu and even necessary. Some famiies wi need ony short-term counseing to hep them get through the initia adjustment period, or sporadic counseing as the chid goes through different deveopmenta stages (particuary adoescence). Other adopted chidren and their famiies may need ong-term counseing. Medica Expenses Chidren with physica disabiities or medica conditions may require expensive treatment or ongoing care. Chidren who have experienced abuse and negect in their birth famiies, as we as osses and disruptions in foster care, often have emotiona and earning probems that respond to short- or ong-term treatment. Athough the famiy s heath care pan ikey wi cover many of these costs, consider the co-pays and time invoved. In addition, some medica costs may not be covered. How to Make Adoption an Affordabe Option 19

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