Reader: Why is adoption so expensive? If the birth mother/parents have insurance, legal fees CANNOT make up that whole number?! Where does the rest go? Especially if it is an infant/newborn.
Your question is common to those new to adoption. Why is adoption so expensive?
First, take note that adopting from the foster care system is almost always cost-free to the adoptive parents, including completion of the home study, court costs, adoption professionals’ assistance, and educational training.
Adoption, in general, is expensive for several reasons. Since you asked about birth parents and insurance, as well as adopting a newborn, I’m going to assume you are asking specifically about domestic infant adoption
. First, with any business, there are operating and staffing costs ranging from building ownership or rental, utilities, office supplies, pay for employees, employee training and continuing education, etc. Some adoption agencies maintain maternity homes for expectant mothers which can be quiet costly. They provide housing, food, educational classes, counseling, transportation, and entertainment for its residents, and they must be staffed by employees. Also, adoptive parents may be asked to pay their own travel costs when visiting or going to get a child who resides out of town. This would include food, lodging, entertainment, and gas, or plane tickets.
Second, many adoption agencies have marketing and advertising budgets. These are used to generate promotional websites, billboards, newsletters and magazines, and brochures in order to reach both expectant parents who might consider adoption and prospective adoptive parents. Some agencies hire outside professionals to create promotional materials, thereby driving up costs.
Third, some agencies do very few placements each year, so in order to stay afloat, the agency charges higher home study, placement, and post-placement fees. On the flipside, some agencies do many placements a year, but this is often because they pay a premium “extras” like marketing and advertising and maternity homes. These costs
are passed on to the agency’s waiting prospective adoptive families.
Fourth, while some expectant parents are able to rely upon themselves or friends and family to help them through the pregnancy (transportation to medical appointments, for example), other expectant parents do not have the resources to assist them. The agency will often step in to help, but often the cost is passed on to the adoptive parents who are matched with the expectant mother. However, some agencies have a pooled fund, which all prospective adoptive parents working with that agency are required to contribute to, and the needs of the expectant parents are met with money from the pooled fund.
You asked about birth parents having insurance. Though some expectant and birth parents do have insurance, others do not. However, many agencies work with clients who do not have insurance by helping them fill out the proper paperwork to apply for free healthcare. An adoptive couple may choose not to work with an agency that requires any expectant parent expenses to be paid by the adoptive family. In some counties and states, the amount of money the adoptive family may contribute to an expectant parent’s expenses (be it living expenses or medical expenses) is capped. It is certainly financially risky for a prospective adoptive parent to contribute money toward an expectant parent’s expenses, so the decision to assist with expenses shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Finally, another major reason adoption costs so much is due to choices adoptive parents make and the way adoption agencies capitalize on these choices. Some adoption agencies choose to create a fee scale based on “supply and demand.” Often, the highest fees are for the adoption of a healthy, white newborn, followed by a lesser fee for the adoption of a multi-racial child, followed by a lesser fee of a minority child such as an African American or American Indian baby, followed by an even lesser fee for a child with special needs. Certainly, I do not believe a prospective adoptive parent should determine their openness to a child based on fees (because that may mean the parent is not prepared for the challenges of raising a child of color or a child with special needs). The adoptive parent may choose to adopt from an agency that has a flat-fee for placement, regardless of the race or ability of the child.
Choosing an adoption agency, whether one adopts from foster care, internationally, or domestically, is one of the most important decisions a prospective adoptive parent can make. My advice is to do your research
, ask questions, and only utilize an agency that offers financial responsibility and transparency. Also, decide what you are and aren’t comfortable with funding: maternity homes, marketing and advertising, expectant parent living and medical expenses, among other things.