23 July 2010

The Real Cost of Adoption

(Please take a look at the links included in this post)

     I was so encouraged / challenged by comments made on the fundraising post, that I have taken every suggestion.  To that end and, it is necessary to address how does the price tag compares to the value?
       One adoption blogger compares it to the cost of a good used car.  How much does adoption cost really?  Fresh, Local, and Best suggested that it would benefit if I were to list the expenses related to adopting so that people could understand...apples to apples if you will.  Costs vary by agency, country, and the individual's approach, but I think I can clarify for those who are new to adoption. Based on our Schedule of fees and actual expenses without giving too much away...there is a lot of variability among agencies.  I did my own county, state and Chinese authentications and all my own photocopies, I could have sent them to the agency and they would have saved me time and confusion but it would have cost $700-900 more. I have heard that people in other parts of the country spend as much as $4000 for a home study.  I could opt to make my own in-country travel arrangements and save on hotels, but at the possible cost of safety, health and proximity to the official business and things we want to do.
Application fee                                    $500
Contract                                              $800
Homestudy                                        $1500
I 800 A                                               $670
Fingerprinting                                         $80  /person x2
10 hours adoption training per Hague  $165
Mailing/Courier throughout process     $600
County and State Authentications        $135
Chinese Authentications                      $712
Dossier Registration                            $480
Dossier Translation                             $150
Professional Services                        $4700
Charitable Aid                                    $500
Travel                                               $3000   /person x2
Foreign Program Expenses                $1500
Post placement services                       $600
Translation & Document fees       $500-800  (varies by province)
Orphanage Donation                       ~$5100  (35,000RMB, varies per exchange rate)
U.S. Embassy Fees                         ~$1000
Total:                                            $25,772 - $26,072

(Okay...how's that for talking about money.  Out of my shell, I guess. Excuse me, I need to run throw up...I'll be right back.) If you break it down, roughly $5500 stays with the agency, if there are no grants or fee waivers per your special needs adoption.  We have received some.  Paying operating overhead and salary with no benefits for six people; completing hopefully, 90 adoptions in all programs in our agency this year.  It is not a money making venture for these people.  Much of these fees are paid to government programs for licensing and documentation or the operating expenses on the China side. No one is getting rich here or there..
      If we had gone into 72 months financing on this amount at 6.52% interest for a car.  No one would have blinked an eye.  People do it every day; sometimes living with less food, shelter, clothing, and education for their children so that they can have a 'nicer' car.  Suggest for one minute that someone raise these funds to become a family for a child who needs one and suddenly people are outraged at "the system".
       There is another cost, too.  It is in my heart.  It is a lonely process where the blog has become a refuge among those who don't have to have it explained to them again.
     "Why go through this process again; you already have children?"  Or to say it the way my cousin did,"I think, if you want kids, you should get pregnant.  If you don't, you can't.  Period."
     It is in the things I will have to learn that I never need to have bothered about special needs, attachment issues, the energy it takes to manage them both.
      In the comments of people who don't really care about us but like to pretend they do by saying, "it's just like they were your real children."  "I know SO many stories of people who adopted and then had their own."
      In the criticism of my pediatrician who has all but pleaded with me not to adopt a Chinese boy because he knew an adopted Chinese boy who was institutionalized.
     I am by no means looking for a pat on the back or tooting my horn.  I am saying, that this is bigger than those things and as far as heroes go, I am standing outside the room waiting to refill the water glasses of the heroes.  Figuratively speaking.  There are parents who have adopted children with special needs that would seldom have seen the light of day in America.  Cerebral Palsy, Down's Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Blindness, Ambiguous Genitalia, Deafness, Missing or Different Limbs, Hep B, Congential Heart Defect, Dwarfism, Hydrocephaly...Cleft Lip & Palate.  And various combinations thereof.
     I have often assented to comments on not understanding how a person could abandon their baby. Until I tried to write about this, and then I realized.  Um.  Gee.  It's a choice you couldn't make, huh?  Well, since we are here, I am just going to say that a birthmother's choice impacts the world.  If you know an adopted child  whose family couldn't live without her (or him) stand up and holler(if you are reading this you know me, so...on your feet).  Or holla.  If that is more your style. 
   Which of your children would you trade for money?  I asked this question of a mom the other day and her eyes grew wide and wet with tears, as she understood.  What is the life of a child worth?
     The cost to secure my place in God's family was much higher.  It cost the life of His Only Begotten Son.

He never hesitated.

Not even once.



  1. I think adopting is awesome! And lots of other adjectives that may or may not be insulting but are all meant in a good way. I'm praying for you guys and I wish you all the luck in the world.

    PS I got my coffee in the mail yesterday. I wish I could do more to help.

  2. Well said, Maggie! My boss was telling me a couple weeks ago that he didn't think he could ever spend that much money on a kid. I said, didn't you just buy a new boat?
    I love this post, do you mind if I link to it on my blog?

  3. Thanks so much. Link away!!!

  4. Oh my, Maggie! This is such a useful and informative post AND it is written with such heart. My husband and I are in the process of discerning if we are being called to adoption and I hate to admit this, but the cost issue has been a concern of ours. Thank you for making me rethink this.

    Thank you, also, for your kind words left on my blog today. Yes, maybe we SHOULD have bras in colors that coordinate with petunias? Why not? Let's live a little...

    I enjoy your blog - thanks for all you are sharing.

  5. What an amazing post. Thank you so much for this, it is quite timely for me. ((hugs)) xx

  6. You've hit the nail on the head, Miss Maggie. You are doing God's work when you adopt . . . being a father (mother) to the fatherless. Taking someone into your family that is not "your own." Blessing and being blessed in the process. You are doing the thing I wish to do. And I just realized (duh!) the very thing some dear friends of mine in Tennessee are doing -- adopting a special needs boy from China.

    Here's their blog http://thegravesfamilyblog.blogspot.com/

    Because sometimes we need to surround ourselves with people who get it.

  7. I am a birth mother and I have many adoptive parents who follow me. This post is fantastic with all of the break down you did! I would like to ask if I can please link to this post so that my readers can see what you have so graciously provided.

    I really enjoyed reading this and what you had to say about the birth parents, because as you eluded to...we are so misunderstood. Thanks for this writing, it is a real eye opener!

  8. Awesome, wonderful Maggie!!!!

  9. Katie prays for Isaiah every evening. It seemed like every place we went in China Dennis was pulling out his wallet. However, for the first time ever we didn't think about it. We just kept looking into Katie's wonderful smile. When it is your child you do what you have to do.

    Great Post.

  10. Beautiful! thanks for sharing! :)

  11. Wonderful post, may I link it on my adoption blog to share with others?

  12. So very beautifully written. I particularly loved this passage:

    "There is another cost, too. It is in my heart. It is a lonely process where the blog has become a refuge among those who don't have to have it explained to them again."

    The ignorance about the process is startling, isn't it?

  13. Yeah, I don't try to explain the cost very often anymore. They try to blame it on the birth country right away. I tell them "most of the money stays on this side of the ocean" Even the plane ticket money actually. The other wonderful question. "Is it cheaper if he's special needs?"
    No and NO!

  14. I am so behind in my blog reading. Forgive me. You said it perfectly my dear. Perfectly! My hubby was adopted and I know that he can not imagine what his life would have been like if his parents had decided not to adopt himbecause of cost. You will continue to be in my heart and prayers as you continue on your adoption process! :)

  15. What an AMAZING post. I am just soaking it all in but wanted to say I am glad I clicked over here.

  16. Ok, so I'm a bit late reading this post - well skimming it, truth be told - but it is one I will go back to, to read in depth - so many fine points.

    Thank you for expressing so well the many facets of adoption.


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