Do you hate that title? Are you appalled that anyone would consider applying frugality to the adoption of children?
What if it turned out that being frugal about adoption actually helped those children most seriously in need of parents?
Welcome to Grace's world, where the desire to adopt and rear children ran smack into financial reality. Don't worry--this is a story with a happy ending. I wound up adopting five daughters, and we all survived.
I was 30 years old when I adopted my first child out of foster care.
I was 50 when I adopted my fifth and last child, also out of foster care.
They are all adults now, ranging in age from 43 to 20. They are mostly on their own. (OK, so the 28 year old returned home and is currently living with me, but the plan is for her to be gone by spring!)
Rearing children is never cheap and my children are no exception.
But the adoption process itself can run into thousands of dollars, particularly for children from foreign countries, and even more particularly for the near-mythical 'healthy white infant.'
My children's adoptions cost me not one dime.
My state paid the attorney fees.
My state provided health insurance until they were 18. (I put each child on the insurance provided by my employer and used the state coverage as secondary insurance, which meant I had no co-pays!)
My state provided psychological testing at no cost.
My state even provided a monthly stipend for each child.
If you're curious about your state, the National Council on Adopted Children maintains this website.
The federal government also provides tax benefits for families that adopt. It benefits those of us who adopt special needs children from foster care most of all. (Special needs can mean the child has physical, intellectual or emotional issues. It can also mean that the child is above six years old, is African-American, or comes with siblings.) Everyone can get a tax credit up to $12,150 per child, but those who adopt from the state can get it whether or not they actually spend that much (which they won't--they may well not spend anything) and they can even use it for costs incurred for an adoption that winds up not happening. Check it out here. The credit can also be carried over to the next year if one's tax bill doesn't come up to the credit.
All states require that prospective parents thinking about adopting from foster care take a series of classes meant to introduce families to the realities of rearing adopted children. (No, it is NOT the same as rearing biological kids--neither better nor worse, but different.) These classes are free and provide a great deal of information about the available children. I would encourage everyone considering adoption to take the classes even if they think a state adoption is not for them.
There is so much more to be said about adoption from foster care, and so many other aspects to factor into the decision, but this is a financial blog, so this post is focused on the finances of adding adopted children to one's family.
Cheapskates can adopt. Grace is proof of that. Would I have adopted had the state aid NOT been available? You bet. But I would have stopped with the first, maybe the second child. I could never have adopted all five without the benefits provided by the government, so I am grateful for the programs that were and are available.
November is Adoption Month.