What kind of financial help is available?
There are enough sources of financial support for adoption so that you can, in all likelihood, get your costs down to a manageable figure. Don’t hesitate to ask for help everywhere. If you feel embarrassed, remember that every penny you save will be spent on the child later. Be diligent about getting and keeping receipts — you’ll need them.
Should I borrow money for an adoption?
Many of our adoptive families have gone into debt to finance their adoptions. Some, especially those who were already stretched by payments for infertility treatment, continue to struggle with financial issues for years after the adoption is completed. We have never heard a parent say it wasn’t worth it.
If you plan to borrow to finance your adoption, let your adoption agency know at the beginning of the process, and ask if this will cause a problem in your home study. If you have a realistic repayment plan, social workers are usually happy to approve parents working on credit.
Where to Go for Financial Help
Adoption agencies: Many nonprofit adoption agencies base their fees on the adoptive parents’ incomes — the less you make, the less you’ll pay. Some agencies also offer adoption grants and/or low-cost loans.
Foundations and charities: Numerous private foundations offer grants to support adoption.
Federal government: The U.S. government offers a tax credit for parents whose gross incomes fall below a certain limit (it changes every year). The credit can even be applied to domestic adoptions that fall through, as long as the attempts have been documented.
State governments: Several states have tax credits for adoptive families, sometimes restricted to those adopting from that state’s foster-care system. States may also continue to subsidize ongoing treatment for a child with special needs. If you are adopting a child who qualifies for such financial assistance, be sure to apply and receive approval BEFORE the adoption is finalized.
Your employer: Many private companies and the U.S. Military reimburse adoption expenses. (Read “How to Lobby Your Employer for Adoption Benefits).
Banks: Lots of banks offer special low rates for adoption loans.
Airlines and hotels: Whether you are doing a domestic or an international adoption, if it involves travel, ask airlines and hotels about adoption rates. Even if the rate isn’t much lower than normal discount, reservations agents are human, and will often lift restrictions or make special concessions for an adoption trip.
Friends and family: You can request donations in lieu of shower gifts; if you’re not comfortable asking yourself, enlist a trusted family member to make the suggestion for you.
Lillian Thogersen, who has worked for over 30 years with the adoption agency World Association for Children and Parents, in Seattle, and has adopted eight children internationally herself, says: “I have never seen a family who wanted to adopt let money stop them.”