Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Cost of Adoption

from our most recent invoice
We got an invoice from our adoption lawyer in the mail recently (see picture).  As you can see, we were charged for "receipt of family pictures; save to file".  Now, it does say "$25 no charge" an I'm not sure if that's what it's referring to, as we still incurred a charge on this bill.  But, remind me
not to send them cute pictures of our family any more!  They request them from time to time to stay current on our family, but I didn't realize we were getting charged for them to "save to file".  But, I am not complaining.  This lawyer has been great, and I know it's just the way it works these days.  But, it made me think about what it costs to adopt.  What it costs to give a home to a child who would otherwise not have one.  What it costs to provide a home for a child that would otherwise become a ward of the state and cost us, as a people, in tax money (and in so many other ways) to support.  Foster children have a much, much higher risk of needing social programs throughout their lives.  Did you know that 70% of people in prison in California were foster children at one point?  They are at much higher risk for needing all kinds of public assistance.  And I don't mean just as foster kids.  I mean way beyond into adulthood.  So, it just seems like it would help the whole situation if the whole adoption process was much less costly.  I have friends who became legal guardians to THEIR OWN grandchildren after their daughter passed away from cancer, and they had to do paperwork and pay $900!  I mean, it's a drop in the bucket compared to a regular adoption, but still ridiculous!

When I sat down to write about this, I thought about ALL the costs of adoption.  When all is done, S's adoption will wind up costing us about $10,000.  That includes social workers, a home study through the county (that costs $4500 alone!), lawyers, travel expenses back and forth to the hospital and little things here and there that nobody thinks about.  And $10,000 is getting off easy.  Most adoptions will cost much, much more, especially if you adopt internationally.  And there's the cost of the craziness it brings, the stress between spouses as you try to decide if this baby is for you, or if the situation is too risky and might result in a failed adoption, or the cost of the major life change it brings about, often with hardly any notice.  There is the cost of adding another child to your family and wondering how it's going to affect the child you already have.  There is the cost of having a child with a history and a family that you now need to figure out how to mesh with yours.  There is the cost of knowing that your child will always have a desire to know about his or her past and will most likely want some contact in some form with the birth parents or birth family, if possible.  There is the cost of your young child asking you why his parents didn't want him, or why they don't want to see him, or why was she so sick that she couldn't take care of me (because at four, we have chosen the word "sick" to describe her drug condition....we will tell him the truth later when he is able to understand what drugs are). There is the cost of those teenage years, when most adopted children go through a heightened identity crisis.  And I'm sure there are costs I don't even know about right now.

So, with so many costs, why adopt?  It's just like anything else you save up and pay a lot of money for.  Because it's absolutely worth it.  A new car, a European vacation, a new home....all those things have a cost attached, but what you get from it is so worth it.  Don't think I am comparing a child to a car or a vacation.  It's an analogy.  The experience you get on that vacation will last a lifetime.  You will make memories.  You will take pictures.  You will see and taste and touch things you never could have before.  And it will make the stress of saving that money and pinching pennies a very distant memory.  All you will remember is how amazing it was.  And that's how adopting is.  Every single one of those costs will never be more important than every single amazing moment of having a child, or of being a mom.  And not that every moment of being a mom is amazing....but you will look back and remember the good.  When my son, out of the blue says "Mom, I love you" or "am I your sweet baby?" or "come snuggle with me" or "will you read this to me?" or "will you play monster trucks with me?", the costs we incurred adopting him will just not matter.  In fact, S's adoption isn't even final yet, and it already doesn't matter, because I love these boys more than life itself, and you can't put a price on that.


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  2. Well said, Susan. The process is expensive and frustrating, but no amount of money could equate to the final outcome you’ll get for all your expenses and effort. The course of your adoption journey may have been a roller coaster experience, but at least you had a really good lawyer to help you all through it. I wish you all the best!

    Olga Becker @ Upton & Hatfield

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