Monday, February 16, 2009

The $$$

Today's word is afford.
Afford: to be able to do, manage, or bear without serious consequence or adverse effect.
af⋅ford - [uh-fawrd, uh-fohrd] How does one afford international adoption?

This is not about Kai, me and our personal finances. This is about those out there considering all the ups & downs of international adoption, getting your head around it and embracing the process with open arms, knowing this is for you. However, at 3am you awake to the sobering question of "How will we ever afford this?"

While researching, it wasn't that easy for me to find out what the real numbers were without committing to an agency. I want to include as many helpful details in this blog which will hopefully assist others who find themselves in a similar situation.

The average cost for an Ethiopian adoption ranges from $17k - $22k plus travel costs. (one week of in country stay) Some people have asked me the cost and then make a funny face while asking, "You're doing something so generous, why do you have to pay so much?" The best answer I have is ... These agencies (the legitimate ones) are not looking for the right baby for your family. Their job is to find the right families for their babies.

Aside from a large portion of this amount going to the orphanage and caregivers in country (which is fabulous), there are many government agencies involved who are running a business and apply their applicable fees to the process.

The fees involved are spread out throughout the process and because the average timeframe can be as long as 12 months from beginning to end, it's a good idea to start saving now so you're able to pay cash for the expenses occuring down the road. A home re-fi is the most common method for families, followed by credit cards (not recommended in this economy). There are grants out there, but unless you're adopting a special needs child/ren I wouldn't waste my time applying. It's a very time consuming process. IMO your time would be better spent getting a jump on your application, home study and dossier paperwork. If you are Jewish, there are a couple of great organizations offering funding at a zero percent interest rate within their adoption loan programs.

Save your change. It will cover the little things that add up. $18 fee for FBI fingerprinting, $15/video for your Hague training (minimum of 4 are required), etc. (there are a lot of these expenses). Sell anything you haven't used or worn in a year at a stoop sale or garage sale. In this economy, everyone is looking for a bargain (and you'll have cleaner closets).

Another option, is to check with your HR department at work to see if your employer has any adoption programs. We are very fortunate that we both work for large corporations who participate in this program. Upon completion of our paperwork noting the adoption is offical and we return from Ethiopia, we will be receiving a contribution of over 1/2 of our initial out of pocket expenses. Lastly, the Federal Adoption Tax Credit for 2009 has increased to $12,150. Save EVERY receipt for every expense related to your adoption. It is not unlikely to be audited if you claim this credit.

I have the best husband. Because I'm working on getting a big chunk of paperwork out today, he offered to make us a nice lunch. I'm told my burrito with blue chips are ready, so I am off to join him & catch a portion of the Law & Order marathon.

Happy President's Day!

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