First, some background for those who don’t eat, sleep, and breathe adoption. In domestic adoptions, prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) can sometimes pay expenses that the expectant/birth mother incurs. These expenses are supposed to be pregnancy- and birth-related. Different states have vastly different rules about what is covered and how much. As far as I know, all states allow adoptive parents to pay for medical co-pays and counseling. Some states add maternity clothes, rent, transportation to and from doctor’s appointments. Some states go the extra mile and add “living expenses” which can be just about anything.
Different people have vastly different opinions about these expenses. Many people do not think PAPs should pay any expenses, that doing so is inherently coercive and allows women to scam us. I think most people take a more realistic approach. Sometimes, a woman needs help paying for things that she would be able to pay for if she weren’t pregnant, or wouldn’t have to pay for if she weren’t pregnant. For example, we paid about 2 months’ rent for S. She couldn’t work due to her “emergency” C-section. I had no problem with this. If a woman is confined to bed rest, and the PAPs are willing, then perhaps she should receive more vague “living expenses”. Max and I can’t afford that, but I understand that there may be a need. The US does a crappy job of providing for mothers and families, but that’s a whole other topic.
Today, I inquired about a situation that I saw posted on a facilitator’s site. I check this page pretty much every day, but most of the situations are far too expensive. One was posted the other day that’s within our budget, so I asked for information. What I got back was a great deal of information about this expectant mom, including a detailed break down of her expenses.
In the e-mom’s state, PAPs aren’t allowed to pay expenses, so the state that the PAPs are in must allow them for her to be able to receive them. (I don’t understand how this loophole works – It would seem that if expenses aren’t allowed, and she’s living in that state, then expenses aren’t allowed.) Her expenses include four months’ rent, electric, water, phone, TV rental, transportation, household sundries, laundry, and clothing. All of this adds up to about $6000.
TV rental? Really? Somehow, having a TV doesn’t seem pregnancy-related. Nowhere on the form does it tell me that this woman is unable to work. It does tell me that the pregnancy hasn’t had any complications. It also tells me that she’s unemployed, and has been since December. I wonder how much of this help is really necessary, as opposed to what the agency is telling her she can claim. It’s my understanding that a lot of adoption professionals will tell expectant parents to claim the maximum allowed, because they can.
I’m very sorry if a person can’t afford certain amenities. I know there are programs available to help with the necessities, such as power and water. I’m sure they’re being used by a lot of people right now. But I have a huge problem with paying for someone else’s laundry and television. Being asked to do that really does make me feel like I’m being used. And if I were to do it, I guarantee I would feel entitled to the baby. I’m sure some people would think that makes me a bad person. But those people can go ahead and support a person out of the kindness of their hearts.
Now, I finally understand what people are griping about when they malign “birthmother expenses”. TV rental. Indeed.