Did you know that November is National Adoption Month? Now you do! With adoption being such a large part of my life, I knew I had to write a post paying tribute to the cause this month is all about. I think its no coincidence that National Adoption Month falls during November, the month of being thankful. I know I’m not alone when I say that “thankful” is one of the first words I would use to describe my feelings on adoption! The thing about adoption is that, until you know it intimately, it comes off as intimidating, scary, and confusing. I know that was how I felt before I knew the details. I think its natural to feel these things. BUT, if you have any sort of curiosity about adoption, dig a little deeper and get to know the details. I think you’ll see that the feeling of love will out weight all the negative emotions.
I regularly get messages and emails with basic questions about adoption. I LOVE getting these messages. I will chat your ear off, if you’ll let me, giving you as much information as I can type about the subject that changed my life. When I get these messages, they almost always have the same first two questions. Can you guess what they are?
“How much does adoption cost?” “How long does it take to adopt?”
Unfortunately, adoption has a reputation of being costly and a tedious process spanning several years. BUT, like most reputations, there is a half truth buried deep within the misinformation. So, I’m going to address the top 2 questions for you…but…before I do, I want to throw out a little statement that I want everyone to keep in mind:
No two adoption journeys are the same. Nobody will be able to tell you exactly how much money you’ll spend or exactly how long your wait will be. NOBODY. Not even the professionals that do this on a day to day basis. Why? Because no two journeys are the same. So, don’t get frustrated when you start researching and get a lot answers that seem like blanket vague answers.
- How much does adoption cost? Well, it starts at 0 and goes up to 50K and beyond. (Told you, vague answers!) Our journey, everything expense included, put us around 40K. Let’s talk about the variables that can come into play and push that number up or down.
- We used an adoption consultant to help us navigate the home study process, finding our baby, and the match process. Because we were new to the process, we opted for the more expensive package. Using a consultant isn’t a MUST. It’s an optional service but if you’re new or totally overwhelmed with the process, use a consultant. We used Christian Adoption Consultants and would recommend them.
- We were drawn to domestic adoption. Some people are called to international adoption. Whichever is calling you is fine, just answer the call! Because of the laws in our home state, we had to look for a baby elsewhere. We matched with our son who was living in Florida at the same. While we did have travel expenses, we didn’t have to buy international flights. Outside of the domestic vs international travel expenses, I am not sure what the cost differences would be.
- We had a private adoption going through an adoption attorney. The variables here are private vs foster care adoption AND attorney vs agency. I have heard that adopting from foster care is a cheaper option though I don’t know that for a fact. We used an attorney, which means attorney fees. There are adoption attorneys and adoption agencies out there. Whats the price difference? I’m not sure on specifics but I think they’re close to the same.
- Our son was 2 when we adopted him. In a nutshell, yes age affects the cost. Here is why: birth mother expenses. When you match with an expecting mother, you most likely will incur birth mother expenses. There are a lot of laws and such around these expenses but it boils down to helping her, financially, through her pregnancy with things like medical bills, rent, utilities, etc. Because our son wasn’t a newborn, we didn’t incur this expense which kept our total lower than others.
- You go through a pretty intense background check to get the green light to adopt. This is called the Home Study. This is standard across the board but the cost of this process can vary. Background checks, medical clearances, and pre/post placement visits by a social worker are all part of this expense.
- How long does it take to adopt? I would say best case would be a couple of months BUT some journeys do span many years. Our adoption journey, from the minute we signed with CAC to the minute we met our son was exactly 9 months. I recognize that we were fortunate that our journey was shorter than most. Let’s talk about the reasons for our short wait:
- Remember that additional cost of the consultant I mentioned earlier? Well that consultant is the biggest reason our wait was so short. Our consultant company works with agencies and attorneys across the state thus getting our profile books spread across the country and giving us more opportunities to match with an expecting mom. If you do not use a consultant, you have options such as self matching (basically, finding a match through word of mouth, etc.) or contacting agencies yourself. Some people work with a local agency on their own and do not look in other states, which can increase your wait time. While I wholeheartedly encourage you to use a consultant, I want to say that they’re not able to guarantee you a quick match, they just have better odds than if you looked for your match on your own.
- We were open to a boy or a girl ages 2 and under. When you’re going through the process of adoption, you’ll be asked what your preferences are. At first I was shocked, I felt like I was ordering off a menu and then I felt guilty to not being wide open to anything and everything. I quickly learned that setting your preferences isn’t a bad thing. It’s as basic as preferred gender to as narrow as a family history of anemia and everything in between. However, the more filters you add, the narrower your search results get.
- Adoption matching is a little like Tinder…we both gotta swipe right to match. Just like on Tinder, you have an adoption profile book. Think of this book as the marketing piece for your family. When a situation came across that met our filters mentioned above, we were given information about the birth mom and her situation. If you swiped right, for lack of a better term, your profile would be shown to the expectant mom. From there she looks through the profile books and finds the family she is drawn to and swipes right. It’s a match! I think the quality of our book and the close attention I paid to every word and photo that went into that book was a big reason why our journey was shorter.
- I poured myself into the home study process. Just being honest here, the home study is a mound of paperwork and I dedicated myself to that mound of paperwork. Along with the paperwork, you’ve gotta get background checks and medical clearances. I turned mine and JHub’s date nights into adoption date nights. We’d order a pizza and work through the paperwork. We went to the doc n the box and got TB tests on a date night. Because I was laser focused, we knocked out our home study in a couple of months.
Wow, that was a lot of (vague) information….and we only covered two questions…
I know the thought of spending 50K+ isn’t an easy pill to swallow. That number intimidated me. However, do not let that little bump turn into a mountain and keep you from continuing on your journey. There are so many options to help with the cost such as fundraising, interest free loans, and grants.
JHub and myself decided to start the adoption process 3 months after we got married because we thought it was going to take us years. We were wrong. Our son ate our wedding cake with us on our one year anniversary. Don’t let the length of the journey keep you from going forward….you may be pleasantly surprised to find out your destination was a lot closer than you thought!
If you’re curious about adoption or have questions about any part of adoption, please feel free to email me. I would LOVE to chat with you and let you pick my brain. LA at HotMessMommaClub dot com.
Everyone’s adoption journey is different….except for one thing…everyone’s adoption journey is beautiful and so damn worth the drive.