Gay Adoption

How Much Does Adoption Cost Gay Dads?

Gays With Kids answers financial questions for gay dads and dads-to-be: How much does an adoption cost?

In the United States, there are two most common types of adoption: independent or private adoption, and agency adoption. Both come with different price tags.

Independent or private adoption is when the birth parents place the child directly with the adoptive parent or parents without an agency or intermediary. Parents who pursue independent adoption must still enlist the help of adoption lawyers and other professionals to help with the process. Three states do not allow independent adoption - Colorado, Connecticut and Delaware.

An agency adoption is more or less what it sounds like: you will select and work with a state-certified adoption agency throughout your entire adoption journey. It is legal in all 50 states.


Domestic private/independent adoption ($10,000 to $30,000+)

These expenses can include a homestudy, advertising, documentation and authentication, postage and telephone costs, and any birth mother and birth family counseling needed. The biggest expense will be the lawyer's fees (both for the prospective parents' lawyer and the birth mother's laywer).

Attorney Jennifer Fairfax is a D.C./Virginia/Maryland-based practice who been helping create new families for nearly two decades.

""In many ways," says Fairfax, "I am a consultant or strategist for the adoptive parents. I walk my clients through all the different avenues — setting up advertising or online profiles on sites such as Parent Profiles or Potential Parents — and I review all their material before it goes live, giving input, making edits."

For Fairfax's clients, her fees average between $2,500 and $6,000; advertising can add several thousand dollars to their out-of-pocket expenses. "An online adoption site, for example, could cost $100 per month and you might be on it for two years."

Less advertising means less expense, of course. The flip side is that your match may take longer to find.

Birth mothers need legal representation too, and adoptive parents foot the bill. "These vary," says Fairfax, "but usually fall somewhere between $3,000 and $7,000."

"If an agency, an attorney, an advertiser or any third party helps find a birth mother for you," says Fairfax, "your adoption will probably fall in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. $20,000 or less is usually when the birth and adoptive parents are in the same state."

Domestic agency adoption ($30,000 to $50,000+)

Joy Goldstein and husband Michael Goldstein, both social workers, are the adoptive parents of three. Together they founded Forever Families Through Adoption, a licensed, nonprofit placement agency and resource center. Michael is also an attorney, whose practice focuses on adoption law; Joy is FFTA's executive director.

"It's an emotional journey," she explains. The financial anxiety many prospective parents feel doesn't help. The Goldsteins' formula — agency fees, attorney fees, home study and more — puts the base cost at about $23,000, but it will go up from there. How much depends on some things within your control, others not.

Additional expenses could include things like application approval and birth mother expenses, which can easily run into the thousands. The Goldsteins put this range at about $5,000 to $10,000.

"These can vary based on the laws of the state where [the birth mother] lives or whether she has medical insurance. In some states, for example, even if the mother contacts you in the ninth month, she is entitled to many months of court-approved, pregnancy-related living expenses. In New York State, it's typically three months."

Joy notes that when they were amid the process, they arranged for their birth mother to see a private physician. This would be an optional expense that adoptive parents would be expected to cover.

Internet advertising is another optional expense prospective parents can consider, one the Goldsteins say is generally worth it, garnering would-be parents greater exposure and a better shot at a birth mother finding them faster.

While adoption expenses are daunting, they are somewhat paced. Michael cautions people to be wary of agencies that require all the money up front. Generally speaking, the largest payment will be due at the time of matching. The caveat, of course, is that once a parent or parents are approved and ready, it may be months before your child comes home – or the call could come in a week, at which time, that money comes due.

​Grants

Even if you've done a great job of saving, you may not be all the way there. Without it, your match could move on to another waiting family.

But believe it or not, there are places where you might get some help.

"Some parents take out a small home equity loan [for] that last big payment," says Becky Fawcett. "Others drain their savings. What causes me personal anguish is hearing that people are putting their adoption fees on credit cards and then paying 17.99 percent interest."

Fawcett and husband Kipp, in fact, are among the savings-drainers. Five rounds of IVF cost more than $80,000. The eventual adoption of their first son, about $40,000, wiped out the rest.

"We were so grateful to have that savings to drain," she notes, "but once we started to learn what people were doing to pay for adoption because they didn't [have the savings], the need to help was immediate."

So she founded HelpUsAdopt.org, a nonprofit that does just that, awards grants to prospective parents of all types who need that last bit of funding to say yes to a birth mother.

Fawcett stresses the organization's equal opportunity ideals. Her initial research turned up a handful of organizations that award similar grants, "but they made me sick to my stomach," she says, "so discriminatory in nature that to be quite honest, even my husband and I didn't qualify for a lot of them."

Note to those considering an application: This is not start-up money. Or middle money. Those who are awarded are already deep into the adoption process. There's a legal agreement involved.

"Our money is where you come up short. Applicants outline the details of how they have covered costs so far and we fill in the gap, whether it's a $5,000 grant or a $15,000 grant. We pay the last bills … checks that are due directly to the adoption professionals."

The number of grants awarded depends on the amounts each recipient needs; HelpUsAdopt gives away $100,000 each cycle. Fawcett says the hardest part is having to say no, but they continue to raise more money, each time helping more families. Once annual, they've since grown and now award grants thrice yearly.

Last cycle they received 380 applications, only 10 from LGBT families. She'd love to see more.

"I want the LGBT community to know that we're really here to help, that we – staff, advisory board, donors, everybody – believe in their journeys to be parents.

Answers adapted from A.D. Thompson's article on Gays With Kids: "The Cost of Becoming a Gay Dad: The Ultimate Guide."

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For gay men, creating our families can be expensive. Here are some ideas to help you save for your adoption.

There's little argument that having a family in the U.S is expensive. But for gay men, creating a family can be even more complicated and expensive than it is for our straight counterparts. An adoption process can set you back anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000. You might find yourself asking, “How can anyone afford that?" The answer is: The majority of us don't. Those of us that do are forced to find the necessary funds by making savvy financial decisions. Here are some of our suggestions for doing so:

1. Create a Budget (and Stick to it!)

Perhaps the most obvious tip (and we'll break it down further) but don't underestimate the power of saving money where you can. Start paying attention to where your dollars are going – from that morning cup of joe when you're on the run to the bought lunches everyday at work. All of those small purchases add up!

Are you used to eating out regularly? Don't! Cut eating out or date nights to once a month and make it extra special. And extra special doesn't have to mean extra expensive. Think local delicious restaurant, preferably BYOB, and turn your phones off – make it count.

"It is so important to cut any unnecessary spending," shared Edward (not his real name), father of a 1-year-old daughter through adoption. "Keep your goals in sight and plan for the future."

Helpful hint 1: Make your coffee in a to-go cup before you leave the house; take a packed lunch with you to work. Sound simple? That's because it is!

Helpful hint 2: Set aside a change jar and put all your coins in it. At the end of every month, you'll get to hear the sweet sound of "ka-ching" as you put them through the coin machine.

Helpful hint 3: Plan your meals and stick to a grocery budget. Make a list (check it twice) and then don't go off it at the grocery store. Also, use coupons to further cut down on your grocery expenses.

Helpful hint 4: Cut home expenses: Get a less expensive data plan for your mobile phone. Stop wasting electricity. Turn down your A/C. Don't buy the newest phone model. Choose a basic cable package or cut the cord completely and use one online streaming service instead. You probably don't need Amazon Prime Video, HBO, Hulu AND Netflix. I mean, how much free time do you have? Amiright?

"It's crazy how much you can save by not eating out, not going out with friends, couponing and sticking to a grocery list," said Ben, dad of two boys through adoption.

​2. Open a Savings Account (and Put Money in it)

Start getting into the habit of transferring money into a separate (preferably hard to touch) savings account every payday. Figure out how much you can afford to save and transfer it as soon as you can.

"We set up a budget where we saved and automatically deducted money from our paychecks into a savings account," explained Ben.

3. Apply for an Adoption Grant

Did you know that there are nonprofits ready and waiting to help couples and singles create their family through adoption? Well, they really do exist! Check out Helpusadopt.org, an organization that offers up to $15,000 for families regardless of martial status, sexual orientation, race, religion, gender or ethnicity. Grants are awarded three times a year. So what are you waiting for? Fill out your application today!

​4. Refinance your Mortgage

Did you buy a house when the interest rates were higher than they are now? Refinance and pocket the difference into your savings account. The same goes for student loans. Shop around folks, shop around.

5. Save your Tax Refund

Ben and his husband used their tax refund as a starting-off point for their savings. But make sure that you're paying the correct tax rate so you don't get a nasty surprise in April. And the adoption tax credit?

"Tax benefits for adoption include both a tax credit for qualified adoption expenses paid to adopt an eligible child and an exclusion from income for employer-provided adoption assistance. The credit is nonrefundable, which means it's limited to your tax liability for the year. However, any credit in excess of your tax liability may be carried forward for up to five years." – IRS

6. Rent Out a Room (or your Entire House)

If you have a spare room in your home, consider renting it out for a year. Or sign up for AirBnB and play host to vacationers.

​7. Raise Money

From Kickstarter to IndieGoGo to GoFundMe, there are lots of options to put it all out there and ask others for financial donations. Read the Gays With Kids article on crowdfunding.

8. Find your Talent; Get Creative!

We're not all blessed with talents that result in piles of money, but we all have personal interests. These dads turned their passion for renovating and flipping homes into their key ingredient for saving for adoption. Time to start thinking how to turn your skill into a paid resource.

No untapped talent to speak of? Get a second job or try selling some of your things that you no longer need in a yard sale or on Craigslist.

"Get a second job, budget and start living as if you have that child," advised Ben, whose two adoptions cost $71,000 in total. "Children cost money once they get here. Change [your lifestyle] now and save that money!"

9. Check your Employee Benefits

See if your employer provides any financial assistant to families who adopt, and if they don't already, consider speaking with your HR department. For example, active duty military personnel may be eligible for a $2000 reimbursement.

​10. Ask your Relatives

This isn't possible for everyone but for those who can, consider asking your family for help. Relatives often don't realize how much an adoption costs, but once they do, your parents (or grandparents or loaded uncle) might want to help. It could be by way of a low or interest-free loan, or as a gift. This might be your last option, but it's worth giving a go.

"If you are close to your family, think about asking them for help, if it's within their financial means," said Edward whose one adoption cost $36,000.

Bonus: Consider Foster-to-Adopt

Foster-to-adopt can be a totally free option but it can come with its own set of hurdles. Ultimately you have to decide what the best path to fatherhood is for you.

** The path you choose to create your family is a very personal one. Gays With Kids supports you, whatever your particular path to fatherhood. Check out our "Becoming a Gay Dad" section for the different paths, and please keep us posted on your journey! **

For more, read our article Adoption Glossary Terms Every Adoptive Gay Dad Needs to Know."

And read Agency or Independent Adoption: Which Should Gay Dads Choose?"

Don't forget to read our indispensable guide to adoption:Paths to Gay Fatherhood: The Adoptive Dad."

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