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Financing Adoption Fees

When I speak to people about adopting, the number one reason that people tell me they cannot do it is due to the high cost of fees. It is daunting to look at the list of fees due to an agency, plus the fees you will pay for things outside of what an agency does for you, plus travel if you are not adopting locally, and add it all up. If you’re a typical middle class family, it’s enough to make you fall over from shock and back away slowly in terror. We completed our first adoption sitting solidly in the lower middle class bracket, and I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to pay the fees, even if you don’t have a lot of wiggle room in your budget. In our experience, it hasn’t been easy, and we have had to get creative, but it’s been both possible and worth it. I look at these fees as our first sacrifices for our children; it’s only the beginning of what we are willing to do for them.

While some adoptive families can easily pay all the costs up front, most of us are not in that position. What follows is a list of options for filling the gap between what you can pay up front and what you need to come up with.


  • Cut Extra Expenses 1 of 9
    Cut Extra Expenses
    Making room in your budget is one of the simplest ways to get extra money for your adoption. For us, simply cutting out extras like cable and eating out were enough to make a little extra room in our budget to get started.
  • Take on Extra Work 2 of 9
    Take on Extra Work
    If you work for an hourly wage, asking your employer for extra hours is a simple way to get extra cash. There are also many jobs that can be done one day a week or for just a few hours a week to add to your usual budget.
    Photo credit: MorgueFile
  • Take Advantage of the Adoption Tax Credit 3 of 9
    Take Advantage of the Adoption Tax Credit
    The adoption tax credit is currently only available through the 2012 tax year, but legislators are mulling over extending it and making it permanent. For 2012, you can receive up to $12,650 in credit toward your tax bill. The tricky part about this is that it is not available for most adoptions until they are finalized, and you only receive the benefit once you file for the tax year in which you completed the adoption. To take advantage of this, you will need to find a way to finance that portion of your adoption fees until the credit is received.
  • Employer-Provided Adoption Benefit 4 of 9
    Employer-Provided Adoption Benefit
    Many employers provide some adoption expense benefit. As with the adoption tax credit, this is usually not available until your adoption is finalized, but the good news is that most of the time, you may claim this benefit as soon as you can submit proof of adoption and supporting documents for adoption costs.
    Photo credit: MorgueFile
  • Take Out a Loan From Your 401(k) Account 5 of 9
    Take Out a Loan From Your 401(k) Account
    If you have a 401(k), you can take out a loan from it, basically loaning yourself money from your retirement funds and paying it back with interest. If you take out this type of loan, generally the repayment is deducted from your paycheck, making the repayment simple and relatively painless. We did this, and the amount repaid each pay period was small enough that we barely noticed.
  • Take Out a Home Equity Loan 6 of 9
    Take Out a Home Equity Loan
    If you own your home, you may be eligible for a home equity loan. Often the rates for these are better than for other types of loans. Talk to your bank as well as other banks who are offering home equity loans and find the best interest rate.
    Photo credit: MorgueFile
  • Take Out a Loan Against Collateral 7 of 9
    Take Out a Loan Against Collateral
    If you own your car or have other physical assets that are easily appraised, you may be able to take out a loan with those items as collateral. We took out a loan against our car, and it was a very simple process.
    Photo credit: MorgueFile
  • Adoption Specific Grants and Loans 8 of 9
    Adoption Specific Grants and Loans
    If you simply Google "adoption grants," you will get results for lists of grants and loans as well as for individual organizations offering grants and loans. While there is a lot of competition for this funding, it never hurts to apply for grants that fit your family profile. Various grants cater to various types of families and adoptions, so do your research. Grant applications can be extensive, and you want to make effort where it will really count.
  • Fundraising 9 of 9
    Fundraising
    This is a somewhat controversial method of funding an adoption, so you need to gauge how receptive your friends and family will be to the idea. Some people feel comfortable sending out a letter asking for funds outright, while others do things that will give the people who are contributing something in return. Garage sales are a great way to raise funds, and I've found that a pancake breakfast or spaghetti dinner can also be a big hit. If you decide to fundraise, keep in mind that not everyone will agree with it, and that's okay. As long as you are not pushy or demanding, it is possible to agree to disagree about this particular method of financing an adoption.
    Photo credit: MorgueFile

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