Monday, March 15, 2010

Why does [this] adoption cost so much?!

As I've told the story of our decision to adopt several times in the last month, others seem as shocked as we were at the cost for an international adoption. I cannot speak for anyone else's experience, but I thought I would give a list and description of fees, as explained to us by our agency. Some of these descriptions come straight from Holt, some are my own interpretation or assumption (subject to be completely wrong, btw). Some of the descriptions may seem repetetive, but as I mentioned previously, these numbers were not very different from several agencies we looked at. In other words, I trust the agency that this is the amount it takes to get the job done. If it makes you a little queasy to look at, you are not alone! But we've chosen to look at these numbers long and hard to truly understand what's coming. Soon you'll see a post about how we hope to pay these fees! I'm going into detail because I love that so many of you are coming along with us on this journey and learning as we learn. Hope you are curious and not bored yet.



Application fee: $300

This was the non-refundable fee that accompanied the application, along with copies of the last 3 years tax info, pictures of our family and the exterior of our home, and several basic questions.



Adoption/Family study: $2900

This is what we will pay to Holt for a social worker to turn our lives upside down and inside out to determine if we are fit to parent an adopted child! I'm sure I'll post later about all the minutiae involved in this extensive step. Our part of the process has begun, as we have paperwork to complete on every aspect of our lives, including physical, mental, financial, educational, etc. We will each meet with the social worker individually and also as a couple and as a family for extensive interviews. She'll do a study of our house and see if it is appropriate for another kiddo. I think most of the fee for this study is to pay the social worker. She's the investigator here, and she compiles the information into one long assessment of us. Our end is a lot of work, but her end sounds like a lot of work, too. The fee is due before we meet with the social worker, probably within the next month.



Dossier Fee: $3000

Until 2 months ago, I didn't even know how to pronounce the word "dossier," let alone know what it entails. (BTW, it's "doss-ee-ay.") Basically it is a huge ol' packet of information on us (including the final assessment from our home study) that is sent to our child's birth country, for them to review, approve and then match to a child. This fee covers the cost of facilitating the adoption arrangements with agency and government officials in the US and Thailand, and between US & Thailand, coordinating services with international social workers, administrative/office expenses and telephone expenses. Many pieces of information in this dossier packet have to be notarized, then signed & sealed by local, state & federal officials before being sent to Thailand. This fee will be billed when the home study is approved and received by Holt and the dossier is ready to go. (I'm hoping that is early or mid-summer, but that is just my guess. We've been told we probably need to wait to send out the dossier until Syd is 2, which is June 26.)



Adoption Program Fee: $9890

Yep, that's the big chunk. (And it's actually $11290. See below.) This is Holt's main fee for walking us through this huge maze, step-by-step. It is a little bit more than some other smaller agencies, but not as much as others, and we decided it was worth a few hundred extra bucks for an agency that we were very impressed with from day one (and local to boot). This contributes to costs involved with facilitating the adoption, including background and medical information and identification of child & birth mother, social services home and abroad, accepting legal responsibility for the child prior to adoption finalization, legal fees, foster or child care, medical expenses and passport and US visa fees in the child's country. It's basically the fee for holding our hands for 2 years. This fee may also cover child welfare projects in the child's country of origin. This fee is due next year when we accept a referral for a specific child. The estimated wait time between finishing the home study and receiving a referral for a child is 10-12 months.



Post-placement services: $1400

This is the fee for Holt and the same social worker to have several follow-up visits with us and our newly adopted child in our home. They will see how we are adjusting and help us find help for any challenges we are facing. This is also due at the same time as the adoption program fee, when we accept a referral for a specific child. This step is legally required by most birth countries.



Non-agency related fees:

Travel expenses: estimated $8,000-$9,000

I KNOW, right? First of all, we'll need 2 tickets to Bangkok and it is very strongly recommended we get a third ticket for little Peanut on the way home. It is also very strongly recommended that we get open-ended tickets--can't remember the technical term for those. The reason being, this is a hugely important trip that revolves around government meetings with US and Thai officials in Bangkok to ensure we take care of the adoption papers properly. What if a scheduled meeting was postponed from Monday to Wednesday, and our flight was scheduled to leave on Tuesday? We'd be up a creek. This trip to Thailand to get our babe is the equivalent in importance to the birth of our first 2 children. We want to make sure we have all our bases covered. The airfare will be the biggest portion of this expense, but staying in a hotel for approximately 10 days and eating during those 10 days are also included in this expense.



Misc fees that I do know about (with many more to come that I have no idea about yet): (We've been told these misc fees average around $1500.)

*Local fingerprinting for state background checks: $50

*Federal FBI fingerprinting: $150

*Official copies of marriage and birth certificates: $200

*Paying for a courier service to take our docs around Washington, DC to get stamped and signed by different government entities, so that we don't have to wait weeks for an envelope to be mailed down the street from the Thai embassy to the US State Dept.: $300-$500

*Passport renewals: $70

*Mileage for the social worker to come from Portland for several visits, $ .50/mile x 100 miles round trip, about 7-8 times: approximately $400

*Buying a fire extinguisher for our house: ???

So, as you can see, these numbers are scary. But I have such a peace about this decision, that I can type them out and describe them without breaking a sweat. :) I can't explain it, but I've rarely in my life felt God leading me so strongly in a direction as I have on this path to our adopted child. "All I have needed Thy hand has provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me." I'm singing it in advance, knowing He will provide.

4 comments:

mannarae said...

That is amazing! Thank you for breaking it down for us that are so curious. In our wanting to adopt, this sheds light on so many things.

Thank you, Jen!

I love the last paragraph. So beautiful, isn't it? The peace we have knowing "He will provide."

Mandy

Christie said...

Hi Jen,
Just wanted you to know I've been keeping up with your blog, and am praying with you through this adoption process. All the details are amazing. The numbers are overwhelming, but there is no doubt in my mind that you are in God's plan in your desire to care for his child. I just keep thinking about how he calls us to care for the fatherless and the widows.

Jay and Chandra and Penny Regan said...

A strong recommendation I have is to purchase airline tickets through Delta/NW Airlines, as they have an adoption fare. You pay a little more upfront. However, you can change your ticket at any time and as many times as you need to. We had to change ours about 3 or 4 times. Well worth it!

Beth said...

Lets have a giant garage sale! :) And I'm serious, btw!!!