In honor of national adoption month, I decided I would tackle the most asked questions about adoption. The first one I always get asked is why is adoption so expensive? If kids need homes why do they charge so much for you to get them? Why don’t they just give them to a good home? The short answer is something a friend of mine said which is when she was asked how much she paid for her adopted children she said, “they were free, but we paid thousands of dollars for people to process the paperwork to adopt them”. That is so true. The majority of adoption costs are tied up in paperwork. For our adoption from Hong Kong we have done over 200 pages of paperwork, so far. We still have more to do when our daughter comes home to get her adoption finalized and her citizenship done and so forth. So to answer the question of cost I have to address domestic and international adoption separately.
Our domestic adoption of our son three years ago cost $19,000. I am sure most of you are shocked by that number. Let me break it down for you and tell you where that money went, roughly. First we had to have a homestudy done, which was $3000. Then we had to have background checks and give financial paperwork and someone had to review all that. Then we had to pay legal costs to finalize Joshua’s adoption and some money we to help his birthmother with medical bills and rent. We also had to pay to see if we could find his birthfather so he could sign relinquishment papers. The majority of the money goes to the adoption agency. The main reason we chose to use Bethany Christian services was because their main mission in domestic adoption is to help birthmothers regardless of whether they choose to place their baby for adoption or not. We liked that. We wanted to know that when a birthmom walked in the door and sat down with a counselor she was getting help with her life and hopefully coming to know Jesus Christ as her personal savior. For every birthmom who does place their baby for adoption, 10 don’t. I don’t mind that fact. That means Bethany is not pressuring birthmom’s to place babies for adoption, something I could not live with. These birthmoms are in the midst of crises in their lives, and they need love and support regardless of their choice to place their child for adoption or not. So, the money we paid for our adoption helps cover the costs of hours of counseling and support those other birthmom’s got. We are supporting birthmom’s and not just adoption.
This adoption from Hong Kong will cost somewhere around $22,000 or so when it’s all said and done. About a third of that goes to travel costs, and the other two-thirds go to people who process paperwork. A very small portion goes to Hong Kong itself, in our case $1500, for them to process our daughters paperwork and prepare her for adoption. They are doing a superb job and it’s worth every penny. Hong Kong is one of the least expensive countries to adopt from for a few reasons. One, you only have to travel one time, and it’s only for a week. Other countries you have to travel multiple times or stay much longer and all that costs more money. Other countries also charge more for country fees. Honestly, I think $1500 is a very small amount to pay the adoption agency for the hundreds of hours they have spent with our daughter and doing paperwork for our daughter. The rest of the money goes to the adoption agency here in the US or to the US government itself. There are hours and hours of work that many people have to do here in the US to make our adoption legal. There are many hoops to jump through to make sure that our daughter is an US citizen and her adoption is properly done. If that is not done right she could be deported. I will pay whatever I have to do get it done right.
Why so many hoops to jump through? Well there is a thing called a Hague treaty that is an agreement between some countries and the US, that states that the US will make sure we are fit parents for our adopted child and those countries will make sure that the child we are to adopt is an orphan and not a victim of child trafficking. Child trafficking is not just something you hear on the news. It is a real thing and a big problem in some countries. Some crooked government people in some really poor countries will promise very poor families money or food if they give their children to a better life in the US. Very tempting and sometimes necessary if you are extremely poor. The Hague treaty makes sure that doesn’t happen. And Bethany makes sure that families who are too poor to care for their children are not left with the only option being to put their child up for adoption, but that they are given the resources to care for their children. Adoption should never happen except in situations where the child has no parents or those parents have given up the child for adoption after being given resources to care for that child if they choose to.
So, now that you have learned more than you ever wanted to about adoption costs and processes, you can have a better understanding of why it costs so much and also why it takes so long. It’s all about making sure we are good parents for this child we are wanting to adopt and also that this child is really an orphan. As frustrating as the process can be and as much as I wish it didn’t cost so much, that is the way it has to be and I wouldn’t change it.
My family and I just began the process to adopt from Hong Kong through Bethany. I’d love to hear more about your journey!
Sarah, you can find our journey on this blog under the posts titled “adoption updates” the password is “Elizabeth”. Congratulations on beginning your journey. May it be quick and easy!