International Adoption — How to Cost-effectively Adopt a Child from Overseas


As more couples finish their “biological” families, or are unable to conceive biologically, often they turn to international adoption as an alternate method to grow their families. Walk through any mall or McDonald’s, and you will likely see a Chinese girl or Guatemalan boy in the arms of a blond-haired, blue eyed mom or dad.

Unfortunately, international adoption is a very costly and often daunting process. The average cost of an international adoption runs around $25,000, including all adoption agency fees, actual “in-country” court fees, attorney’s fees, document preparation, miscellaneous fees, and travel expenses.

Before you go running in the opposite direction, here are some tips to affording an international adoption:

Pay off all credit cards. One item that adoption agencies all review is your financial status. Paying off your credit cards in advance of the adoption process will place you in a better situation financially to afford adoption more readily.

Pay off all car loans or other loans you may have. Again, having less cash going out the door each month to different creditors will ensure you have more cash on hand to pay for all the “little” costs that add up.

Obtain a “line of credit” from your local bank. A line of credit is a very cost-effective loan that requires you to pay interest-only for a certain period of time. This will ensure you have the funds available when you need them, and will give you time to pay back the loan will paying only on the interest of the loan. The other great thing about this is that a line of credit tends to have a very low percentage rate.

Take advantage of the $10,000 tax credit provided by the federal government. Everyone who adopts internationally is eligible for a one time tax credit of $10,000. Once you have brought your child home, you will be able to apply for the tax credit, which will come back to you the following year when taxes are due.

Check your employer for adoption assistance. Many employers now offer as much as $10,000 in adoption assistance as a benefit to their employees. Check with your HR department to see if your benefits package includes adoption assistance.

Adoption Subsidy Program. If you are willing to adopt a “special needs child”, then you may be eligible for Adoption Subsidies. Adoption subsidies, also known as Adoption Assistance Payments (AAP), are monthly payments made to parents who adopt children with special needs from the U.S. foster care system. The amount is based on the severity of the child’s disabilities and is in no way related to the income of the adoptive parents. Subsidy (along with Medicaid coverage for the adoptee until adulthood) is meant to defray some of the costs associated with raising children. It is not meant to reimburse all expenses. It is not income so it is not taxable. It is not meant to take the place of child support after a divorce. It was designed to make adoption more affordable and therefore more feasible for the typical adult or couple. The average base amount nationwide is about $350.00 per month.

Raise the money yourself. From garage sales to second jobs to starting businesses out of your home, you can designate all the money you raise from these efforts to go toward your adoption. Other ideas include selling cookbooks, holding raffles, or even doing contract or freelance work such as writing, marketing, or recruiting.

Ask for help. Not the most popular option, but could work well if you are tightly connected with your family, your faith-based organization, or are from a smaller community. There are many organizations that will let your friends and relatives make tax-deductible donations to your account at an adoption bank or foundation. Consult a financial advisor about whether or not expenses paid with foundation money are also valid expenses for tax credits for the adoption.

If you are active in a church or synagogue, they might want to help out financially by holding fund raisers such as bake sales, car washes, or even bowl-a-thons. Talk to your religious leader about your need and he or she may be able to encourage the youth group or other organizations to volunteer their help.

Adoption grants. Some faith-based organizations will provide grants to couples who qualify based on pre-set criteria. One such site is Shaohannah Shope, a non profit organization founded by Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman, Christian music artists. This organization, based on their own story of adoption, provides information and assistance to people who want to adopt but lack the financial resources.

International adoption is a wonderful gift that many adults can experience. With the right resources and a little creative planning, international adoption doesn’t have to be as financially overwhelming as it may seem on paper.

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