Adoption Costs A Lot. It Shouldn’t.

This week’s Adoption Magazine blog hop topic, Adoption and Finances, is very timely. For tax purposes, I had to tally up the cost of Cassie’s adoption.* After I had done so, I posted the following on Facebook:

Robyn Chittister: I just totaled up what we spent on Cassie’s adoption. Yeah… wowzers.
Good Friend: I can imagine. Ouch.
Another Adoptive Mom: Worth every penny! People are shocked when I tell them how much adoptions can cost. Crazy!
Another Adoptive Mom Blogger: I did the numbers on DS’s adoption, it’s cringe-worthy!
Key Point Guy: I never understood why adoption needs to cost so much.
Robyn Chittister: Oh Key Point Guy, you and everybody else who isn’t employed in the adoption industry! It’s the #1 complaint. Cr-razy!
Laine (Cassie’s birthmother): cassie is worth every penny so why complain u have her now cause she is greatly missed
Key Point Guy’s Wife: Laine, you are right, Cassie is worth every penny and more! I don’t think that’s what Robyn is complaining about. … The outcome is definitely worth the process – but it’d be awesome if the process weren’t so hard on everybody.

I responded on Facebook, but would like to expand on my response for this blog post.

First: I don’t see this as Cassie costing any money. I didn’t buy her. You can’t put a monetary value on a child. So, while I understand the “worth every penny” comments, they do tend to rub me the wrong way. Maybe it’s because there’s already a fine line between adoption and buying a baby. Many people outside the adoption community will ask, “How much did she/he cost?” The couple of times I’ve gotten this I’ve said, “He/she didn’t cost anything. The adoption cost $X.”** By saying that a child was worth the money… it just makes me cringe. I don’t complain about it, because I know people are coming from a good place.

If I was complaining by posting the initial “wowzers” — and I’m not sure that I was — I would be complaining about the large amount of money that adoption “serviceproviders cost — money that usually far exceeds the “services” they provide. I would be complaining that the US government doesn’t seem to know how much adoption costs, or what an adoption “attempt” is, or that building a family through pregnancy is largely tax deductible because medical expenses are tax deductible, but building a family through adoption is not. I would be complaining because every state has its own laws, which add to the expense, not only through various “service provider” fees and travel, but through the byzantine process that is ICPC.

I do not regret spending any of the money that we spent to adopt Cassie. I do regret spending the $600 given to a scammer who, looking back, we should have known was a scammer at the time. And I suppose I could be complaining that that money is not recoverable, due largely to the way adoption laws work. (Remind me to write about expectant mother expenses, OK?)

Do I wish the adoption had cost less? Yes. Because then I would have more money for my children’s day to day lives. I would be able to put money in the education account that Max’s parents created for their grandchildren. I would have been able to put both kids in swimming lessons last year. I would have savings to fix my car and buy a new washer and dryer, all of which would ultimately benefit my children more than lining a facilitator’s and a lawyer’s pockets.

I am thankful for Cassie, and Laine, and Harris, every day. I am not complaining about having Cassie.

The real complaint to which I was alluding to in my comment to Key Point Guy is: Adoption costs a lot of money. It shouldn’t. The end.


* I’m actually going to post it and break it down at a later date.

** Jackson’s adoption cost just over $33,000.

15 thoughts on “Adoption Costs A Lot. It Shouldn’t.

  1. Sorry if this is too judgey, but I am kind of shocked that you said that “in front of” Cassie’s birth mother … 😦

    • Well, anything I say on FB or this blog I technically say “in front of” Cassie’s birthmother.
      Jackson’s birthmother asked me how much Jackson’s adoption cost. I told her. She said, “Wow.” So… yeah… I’m a pretty open person, and “wow” seems to be an appropriate type of response.

      • Sure, the cost is a wow thing … but personally I think it is rude (at best) and insensitive (at worst) to appear to be complaining about it in front of her. I mean, it’s obvious by her reaction her feelings were hurt, right? I dunno, I literally gasped when I saw you had said that on FB (and that she is reading).

        Also, Jackson’s birth mother asking and you answering is not the same. First, she asked. Second, as you often like to point out, one person in a group doesn’t represent all when it comes to what is offensive, i.e., just because one birth mother didn’t mind knowing about the cost, doesn’t mean another wouldn’t have their feelings hurt at someone who is appearing to be complaining about it.

  2. I agree so much with your statement that you can’t put a monetary value on a child and that it is the adoption services and related costs that are expensive, not the child. I wish it weren’t so expensive because sadly, the cost is what prohibits many people from doing it.

    • On the other hand, the cost does not mean that there are children who don’t end up adopted. Therefore, there is no incentive for this industry to reduce its costs. It’s a business, which is operating on the laws of supply & demand, like any other.

      • We don’t know that there aren’t some children who aren’t being adopted because of the cost. The US doesn’t keep statistics, so we really have no clue. I don’t think that there are a lot of children who aren’t being adopted due to the high fees, but I’m sure there are some.
        There are regulations on fees in a lot of industries, and I think adoption fees need to be regulated as well.

  3. I’ve got some random half-baked thoughts on this. You probably know me well enough by now to know that I think the idea of a child being “worth” a “cost” is ludicrous. Or the idea of paying for a child even worse. Or the idea that somebody with more money makes a better parent. Or that adoptions should cost tens of thousands of dollars esp when the money could be better used to help raise the children anyway. But if adoption didn’t cost anything, would the other limits on who can adopt be good enough? Or would abuses multiply? What do you think?

    • I don’t want adoption to be free. People should be paid for their actual services. I’m not a person who believes that all adoptions should be through the state. I just think the unregulated adoption expenses, coupled with laws that differ from state to state, unnaturally drive up adoption costs.
      Adoption from foster care is free, and we don’t see tons of applicants going for that. You still have to pass a home study to adopt, and that’s going to be daunting to anyone who doesn’t really want to be a parent.

      • >>Adoption from foster care is free, and we don’t see tons of applicants going for that. <<

        Not true. Babies and toddlers free for adoption via the foster care system are adopted. Many, many foster parents are ready and waiting to adopt these children. Those who are not adopted are not adopted because of the complexities surrounding the case, not a lack of desire by potential adoptive parents.

        For example, in my county, there are literally about 100 interested families for every 1 baby or toddler who becomes available for adoption via the foster care system (this per someone from our agency).

        Even with older children, there is a lot of "competition" among prospective adoptive parents. There are many factors that delay or prevent older children from getting adopted. Yes, more adoptive parents are needed — for large sibling groups, for teens, and for children with significant special needs.

  4. I’m not going to say too much here but just to point out that I believe that the US is the only western country where adoptions are expensive. Might be worth looking at those other countries and finding out why.
    Also, even though I am sure you didn’t mean to imply that the money was going towards implying that you were buying Cassie, I can understand how Laine must have felt. As an adoptee, I would feel uncomfortable seeing a conversation like that as well. Btw, I think my APs probably paid about $100 towards administration/legal costs for my adoption and I’m strangely glad of that.

  5. Pingback: The Cost of Cassie’s Adoption | The Chittister Family

  6. Pingback: Fees in Robyn’s Adoption Land | The Chittister Family

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