Dollars and $ense of Family Building Blog Carnival

Through Adoptive Families Circle, I found the blog Write Mind, Open Heart and the Dollars and $ense of Family Building blog carnival. Lori at Write Mind, Open Heart asked several individual bloggers for their input, and then asked anyone in the blogosphere for theirs. Since we all know I love to give my opinions on most things adoption, I decided to join the fun.

If anyone’s coming over from the carnival, here’s my brief background:

I’ve wanted to adopt since I was 13 and saw the Romanian orphanages on the news. Romania was closed when I got married, and my husband and I ultimately decided to pursue private domestic adoption. As far as we know, we don’t have any fertility issues. However, I do have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS – Paula Abdul has it too) and take medication that is not compatible with pregnancy. We adopted our son Jackson at birth in 2006, and recently matched with an expectant mom due this summer.

1. Consider your now or future children as adults, and consider the fact that you had to spend money to either conceive them or make them part of your family. What effect do you think the latter will have on the former one day? What, do you think, your grown children might feel about the funds it took to create your family?

I don’t think it’s going to matter at all. I think there might be an issue if we had paid reduced fees to adopt our Black American children, but we didn’t for Jackson, and don’t plan to for his baby sister. Racial discounting is a practice that I keep meaning to write about separately…

2. How did/would you handle it if your child asks you, “Mom, how much did I cost?” How would you answer at age 7? At age 18?

At age 7, I’d ask “Why do you want to know?” Obviously, someone put that idea into his or her head. I don’t think it would be appropriate to quote the cost (and I do know the exact cost of Jackson’s adoption, including travel and meals, because I documented it all for the tax credit). Then I’d say that adoption costs money, and just go into a general sound bite based on the information he/she really wants to know.

At age 18, I might pull out the yellow legal pad with all of the expenses tallied on it. Curiosity is natural, and because there is so much talk of  money and adoption, I do think it’s a natural question for a teenager to ask. I’d probably stress that this isn’t money we paid for them, but money we paid in fees to other people to help us become their parents.

3. When calculating the costs of your family building, what do you include?

For Jackson’s adoption, I tracked everything that the tax credit would allow, plus the books I bought. I didn’t/don’t count time.

This time around, I also won’t count the money that I stupidly spent on a crib because we got two baby-born calls in two weeks and was freaking out that I could have a baby at any moment and ACK! I didn’t have a crib! If I had calmed down, I would have just taken the free crib a friend of mine had offered. (And I am going to feel guilty about this for years, I just know it.)

4. If two children in a family “cost” different amounts, should that have any significance?

No. But I can totally see siblings antagonizing one another with this information, even if just in a friendly way. My sister and I used to be very big on “fair” and how “fair” it was if I got something that she didn’t or vice versa. I could see us saying something like, “Well, since my adoption cost X and her adoption cost X * 2, you should give me that extra money for college.” Hopefully, Jackson and his baby sister will be above all that.

5. To what extent have finances determined the family-building decisions you have made? How have you able to balance financial considerations against other factors such as medical, ethical, emotional…?

With Jack’s adoption, we didn’t really consider finances at all. We went with what we thought the best option was, and decided we’d afford it. That’s how we ended up going $13,000 over what we had budgeted.

With this adoption, we’re far more conscious of money. We know we don’t want to go into an insane amount of debt. I had really wanted to keep the fees down to what the tax credit will reimburse, but that’s simply not possible with private adoption it seems. I know all these people on forums who are like, “Well, we adopted for $5 and a slice of pizza.” (OK, not really, but you get the point.) The average private adoption costs between $25,000 and $40,000. We’re trying real hard to stick to the low end of that.

People have asked why we don’t “just” do foster adopt because it’s “free”. There are a lot of reasons, and if there’s any interest, I’ll write about it another day.

6. Has institutional and governmental support for certain family-building paths impacted your choices? For example, ART being covered by insurance, tax deductions for adoption expenses, etc.

The tax credit didn’t really help a lot with Jack’s adoption. We went so far beyond it, and then we had to take it over 4 years. Now that the tax credit is refundable, I feel a little less freaked out about paying the adoption off. When the IRS tells you to take a credit over so many years, it’s not like they pay the interest that you’re paying on the adoption loan or credit card. For example: We had an office added on, and we thought we’d be able to deduct it. Well, we can… but not until next year, because the office wasn’t completed in 2010. Once we can deduct it, we have to deduct the cost over 27.5 years. You think if I tell my contractor, “I can pay you, but it’s going to take 27.5 years.” that he’ll take the job?

Friggin’ IRS.

I learned a lot from this blog carnival. I read all 26 entries. I learned a lot about infertility expenses, and read some reasons for not pursuing adoption. Very interesting and very educational.

Visit Write Mind Open Heart for more perspectives on the Dollars and $ense of Family Building and to add your own link to the blog hop by May 1, should you want to contribute your thoughts.

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2 thoughts on “Dollars and $ense of Family Building Blog Carnival

  1. You made me lol about that request from the contractor, and your thoughts on the IRS :-).

    “Racial discounting is a practice that I keep meaning to write about separately…” This is the first time I’ve seen this come up in this blog hop. That will be a fascinating post, for sure.

    Thanks so much for joining in, Ms Chittister!

  2. Loved your perspective…I am so loving this series…so many thoughts.

    And I hadn’t heard of racial discounting till now.

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