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If you are considering adoption all the options can seem a little overwhelming at times. There are so many decisions to be made, not the least of which being what type of adoption you wish to pursue; Domestic, International or Foster Care. Each option has their advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your specific needs and wants, as well as your family situation you will likely find one option stands out as the best one for you.

Domestic Adoption: domestic adoptions work well for those couples who are looking to adopt a newborn and those who find it important to have a detailed family medical history. Domestic adoptions can be difficult as more birth mothers are seeking open adoptions so they can remain part of the child’s life. Also, depending on the laws in your state you may find the birth mother or father can change their mind after the adoption process has begun. Be sure you familiarize yourself with the laws in your state and prepare yourself for anything that may come up.

  • Wait Times: the average wait time for a domestic adoption in the United States range from several months to several years. Making specific requests for gender or race will increase the wait time
  • Cost: the average cost of a domestic adoption ranges from $10,000 to $40,000.

International Adoption: international adoptions are best suited for those who prefer not to have direct contact with the birth mother, and are interested and able to raise a child of a different nationality. International adoptions have begun to decline over the last several years. The restrictions of the birth countries have become more strict and some countries (like Vietnam) have halted adoptions altogether. Educate yourself about the adoption process in the country you are considering.

  • Wait Times: the wait times will vary depending on the country you choose to adopt from. For example, the wait times in Russia and Ethiopia are less than a year. In Korea the wait times are up to 18 months. In China (the most popular international adoption location) the wait time is up to 3 years.
  • Cost: the cost of an international adoption ranges from $10,000 to $40,000 depending heavily on the country you choose to adopt from and the agency you choose to go through.

Foster Care Adoptions: foster care adoptions work best for those parents who don’t want to spend a lot of money or don’t have a lot of money to spend. They also work well for older parents and those who don’t mind adopting an older child or a child with special needs. Parents choosing this option should be aware that the child they are adopting may have come from a home where they experienced abuse or neglect and may have been in the foster care system for years. The parents need to be prepared and willing to deal with the special needs of these children.

  • Wait Times: the wait times for foster care adoptions average only a couple of months. Once the child is placed in your home it does take a year or more for the adoption to be finalized and a social worker will need to work with your family to ensure the placement is in the best interest of the child.
  • Cost: the average cost of a foster care adoption is only about $2500, and in many cases the fees are waived by the state.

The best thing for a prospective adoptive parent to do is to start by researching the various options available and determine which adoption method best meets your needs and wants. Once you know which road you wish to go down do more research about that type of adoption. The better educated you are about the process the easier it will be and the less surprises you will encounter.

Here are some very helpful web resources.

The average cost of an adoption in the United States is $10,000 to $20,000.  Some do cost much more and some cost less.  The cost of the adoption will be influenced by the agency you work with, your state laws, whether your adoption is local or international, and the age of the child you are adopting.

Making the decision to adopt is a big one.  Some couples choose to adopt because they are experiencing infertility and adoption is their only chance to start a family, others are looking to add to their existing family and either can’t or don’t want to have more children of their own, while other couples choose adoption because they feel a need to help children.  No matter what brings you to the decision to adopt it is a good option for starting or growing your family.

Due to the expense of adoption many families must consider all their options in terms of financing. Most families don’t have the funds necessary just sitting in a bank account some where!  Here in the United States there are many avenues a family can go down in order to get assistance with the financial burdens of adoption.  I encourage you to talk to an adoption planner or counselor if you are planning an adoption to figure out what financial assistance may be available to you.

Here are a few of the assistance programs commonly available:

  • Employee Benefits: Many employers now offer adoption assistance as part of their employee benefits package.  Review your benefits package and talk with your manager or human resources representative to find out more about what is available, who is eligible, and what you have to do to take advantage of this benefit.
  • Federal Tax Credit: There is a tax credit of up to $10,000 available under the United States federal tax law if you make under $190,000.  Contact the IRS or a tax accountant to find out more about this credit.
  • State Tax Credit: Many states also offer a tax credit.  Contact your local tax office or a tax accountant to find out if your state offers a tax credit.
  • Military Benefits: In most cases the US Military will reimburse up to $2000 for adoption expenses for active duty military personnel.  If you are in the military talk with your Commanding Officer about your eligibility.
  • Dependency Exemption and Child Tax Credit: These are not specific adoption benefits, however, for parents trying to figure out the finances of adoption the available dependency exemptions and child tax credits at both the federal and state levels may give you the added money you are looking for.
  • Adoption Loans: Many large insurance companies and financial institutions now offer adoption loans.  These can be great ways to come up with the money necessary to finalize the adoption and can then be paid off with tax benefits or employer benefits you receive after the adoption.
  • Private Grants: Some organizations offer private grants for families seeking to adopt, particularly those more socio-economically challenged families.  To find out more about available private grants contact the National Adoption Foundation at 203-791-3811.

Considering the financial burden of adoption can be overwhelming for some families.  Knowing all the financial assistance available to you can make going down the road to adoption a little easier.  Talk with your adoption counselor, a local adoption agency, or a financial planner to determine what assistance if available to you and how you can take advantage of it.

Did you adopt?  How did you come up with the necessary funds?  What options did you find that you weren’t aware of?

Many families are opting for international adoptions. They are becoming more and more common with international adoptions accounting for approximately 13% of all adoptions in the United States.

When a family is adopting a child from another country in most cases they must travel to that country to pick up the child. Traveling to a foreign country can be a challenge, especially if you are picking up your new child. The packing list becomes very different, the travel plans are more complicated, and the paperwork it different.

There are many things to think about from what life will be like when you get home, what you should pack for yourself and the baby, what you the country is like and what paperwork you have to have with you. The list is endless. Here are few tips for making your travel planning a little easier.

  • Pick your airline carefully. You will want to make sure the airline provides good customer service and is family friendly. It is probably a good idea to talk with other parents and the agency you are working with to get recommendations. Some airlines offer specials for adoptions so shop around and don’t be afraid to ask if they offer a special deal. Be sure to find out if you will have to pay extra for your child.
  • Most adoption agencies will assist with the hotel arrangements, and will likely have a specific hotel they want you to stay in. Be sure to find out of special rates are available. It is also a good idea to find out what the hotel offers such as room service, free breakfasts, shuttle services, etc, so you will know what additional arrangements you may need to make.
  • There is often a language barrier both with communicating with your new child and with their current caregivers. Take the time before your leave to learn some common phrases and important words to help you communicate with your child especially, but also with the people who have been taking care of him or her till now. It would be a good idea to stock up on a few good translation dictionaries.
  • Find out what paperwork you will need to fill out while you are there, how much it costs to file the forms, and if you need to pay in cash. Be prepared for all of the expenses you will have while you are there, especially those that will require cash and make sure you have more than enough currency with you.
  • Be aware of your own health. Watch out for signs of illness and fatigue due to jet lag. You will be so excited that you might not notice just how tired you are. Also be aware of what you are eating and drinking. It is very common to become ill from eating things your system is not used to. Be aware of things you should stir clear of.
  • When you pack your bags be sure to leave room for things you may receive while you are there and souvenirs you may purchase. Be sure you have everything you will need, but don’t over pack. Make sure you know what the weather will be like and pack clothing that is appropriate for the weather. The agency will probably provide you with a list of things you will need to bring for the baby, if they don’t ask them or other parents to find out what is necessary and what can be left at home.
  • Educate yourself about the country you are traveling to. Learn about the culture and customs.
  • When you return home from your travels you are likely to be very tired and all you will want to do is spend time with your new little family. The last thing on your mind will be cooking dinner every night. Before you leave think about preparing a week’s worth of dinners that you can freeze for when you get home. This will free up a lot of time when you get home, plus it will give you something to do in the final days before you travel.

These are just a few of the things you need to think about when preparing to travel for an international adoption. Most adoption agencies will help you prepare for your trip, make travel arrangements, and provide you with information about the country you are traveling to. Take advantage of the expertise of other parents. Talk with them about their experiences, what they found helped and what didn’t, get recommendations for what to pack for yourself and the baby.

This is a very exciting time in your life. The more prepared you are the better the experience will be.

Here are a few helpful websites.

Not all families will welcome their new additions the same way. Pregnancy is not the only way to add a new bundle of joy to your family. Many families go down a different road, they adopt. There are many reasons why a couple would choose adoption. For many couples infertility problems plague their tries to get pregnant and after all other options are exhausted adoption becomes their only hope of becoming parents. For others it is a choice they make simply on a personal basis. There are many children out there that need loving homes and loving families, through adoption they are able to find just that. Many people opt for adoption because they see that need and know they can help.

The road to adoption can be a very confusing one. There are many options to choose from, tons of paperwork to fill out, and a lot of uncertainty to deal with. It is important to educate yourself about the various options out there and be sure you know what you are getting into. There are many avenues you can go down when it comes to adoption depending on your needs and wishes.

  • Domestic adoption of an infant: This can be the most trying and difficult form of adoption. There are many rules and laws that govern adoption and they vary by state, province or country. Be sure you are aware of the laws in your area, or if you are adopting a child from another state or province what those laws are, and which laws would take precedent. Here are a few websites you may find helpful in your search for information on domestic adoptions.
  • Domestic adoption of an older child: Often a foster to adoption situation occurs with older children. Where a child is in a home on a foster care basis and ends up being adopted by the foster parents. There are many children in foster care looking for loving homes and families. Adoption of an older child is often less complicated than adoption of an infant. Of course, remember these children have been through a lot in their short lives and may require extra care. Here a few websites you might find helpful in your search for information on this form of adoption.
  • International Adoptions: This form of adoption is growing in popularity. In an international adoption the parents adopt a child from another country, for example China or Russia. An international adoption involves a lot of time and paperwork, but is often considered easier by many families than domestic adoption. With an international adoption you can opt for a baby or an older child just like with domestic adoptions. Due to the matching process and the paperwork involved even when opting for an infant families often get babies that are several months old or more. There are many agencies that cater to this form of adoption and offer support networks in which you can talk with other families who are going through the same process. Here are a few websites you might find helpful in your search for more information on International adoptions.

Welcoming a new child into your family through adoption can be very rewarding. A lot of time, energy, and love go into the process and the reward at the end will be both wonderful and very much worth all the effort. If adoption is the road you are on good for you, and good luck.

I invite you to share your adoption success stories, and any tips you may have that will help others who are trying to adopt.