See this post for an intro to adoption finances.
There are millions of orphans in the world. If somone wants to take one or two or ten of them and provide a stable and loving home, they should be able to do it, right? It shouldn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars. It shouldn’t take months and months. I know. Believe me, I know.
I want to make it clear that no one who adopts internationally is paying for their kids. You pay for lawyers, you pay for airfare, you pay agency fees, but you are NOT buying your children. Out of the hundreds of countries across the world, only a few have strong adoption agreements with the United States. Part of the reason is because if corruption is discovered in that country and it is determined that the government is making a profit off their orphans, the U.S. will not support that and will not allow adoptions from that country.
That being said, there are many things during the process that do cost money. For international adoptions, one huge expense is travel. Travel is not optional for most countries. For Ethiopia specifically, two short trips of about a week each are required (as of May 2010). Round trip airfare per person is $1,500. That adds up quickly, plus you have your lodging, food, and other normal travel expenses on top of that. These trips are not relaxing vacations. I have heard that they are enjoyable and memorable and significant, but also heart-wrenching and emotional and far from luxurious (as in, pack toilet paper because it may not be available).
Our agency runs an orphanage in Ethiopia. Once the Ethiopian government gives a kid to our agency, they move to the House of Hope until their adoptive family comes to get them, usually around six to eight months later. There are costs to running this orphanage. There are food, medical, and staff expenses, to name a few. We have several big fees due to our agency, and a part of these fees go towards running that orphanage.
There are other agency fees. The home study that I blogged about came at a cost. It’s no secret that social workers are not paid well, but they do draw a paycheck and a home study takes many hours of their time. Your social worker must also provide post-adoption reports, and those also come at a cost.
There are government and lawyer fees. It costs to process the paperwork that allows your children to become U.S. citizens. It costs to do extensive background checks that qualify you for adoption. It costs to have dozens of papers translated into another language.
Then there are a lot of other random expenses. The online classes that we took cost money. The police reports we had to acquire cost money. The vaccinations we’ll have to get cost money. There are all these little expenses along the way…and all of this is on top of the normal costs you have when you bring home a biochild such as clothes, furniture, toys, etc.
Adopting a child internationally is definitely not cheap. But it’s also not a profit-generating business. No one is getting rich off this. And it is also more affordable than you might think. Stay tuned for my next post when I’ll tell you how normal families can afford international adoption (the anticipation is killing you, I’m sure).