Friday, August 31, 2007

Adoption 101: Why is Adoption So Expensive?

Found this post on the adoption blog site...I thought it is valuable to those adopting, questioning adoption or even against know the reason it's so expensive.

Why is adoption so expensive? That is the million-dollar question. Some people will say it is because adoption professionals are making money off adoptions. However, many agencies are not-for-profit and seemingly have no reason to “rip off” hopeful adoptive parents. For example, I truly believe that Catholic Social Services is seeking to do what they believe is best for the child as part of a ministry for the Catholic Church.

However, even a not-for-profit adoption agency is incredibly expensive. Our agency, which is not-for-profit, had a base cost of $11,000 back in 2000, not counting any payments for the expecting mother (such as medical bills, food, or housing). If nobody is profiting and the expecting mother is not being “bribed,” then why does adoption cost so much money?

Here are some of the expenses that contribute to the cost:

  • Advertising adoption services to expecting mothers and hopeful adoptive parents
  • Rent, utilities, etc.
  • Salaries of social workers and other office staff
  • Literature for expecting mothers and hopeful adoptive parents

Does this add up to $11,000+ per adoption? It is hard to say from the outside, although I am sure the agency would assure us that they are not making a profit.

Our agency had additional expenditures that may or may not be included in other agencies' services:

  • Expenditures paid toward anticipated adoptions in which the expecting mother ultimately chose to parent
  • Facilitating communication between the birthmother and the adoptive family both before and after the adoption
  • Hiring an adoption attorney for contested adoptions (such as a birthfather contesting an adoption at the 11th hour)
  • Lifetime counseling for birthmothers who place through the agency
  • Parenting classes for expecting mothers who choose to parent
  • Private investigator fees to locate birthfamily or adult adoptee

Our agency provides all of these services free of charge, so somebody has to pay for them. The agency passes these expenses along to the adoptive parents as part of the adoption fee.

Knowing that our agency provides these additional services helped me to feel better about the adoption fee. However, many adoption agencies do not offer these services. For those who do not, I have no explanation for why the cost of adoption is so high.

As for international adoptions, you have two agencies that are charging for their services. You also have another country that might be using part of the fee to subsidize its orphanages or foster care system. A portion of the fee is going to be out of the hands of the domestic agency.


Tishslp said...

our agency gave us an itemized list of fees; we knew exactly how much was owed and where it was going...

For those who are critical of adoption, the cost of adoption is a BIG slate on which to tabulate their frustrations.

Here's the thing, though. When a birthmom has picked a couple, been provided with counseling/rent assistance/assistance with hospital and doctor fees, lawyer fees, etc where is the money coming from? Ethical treatement of all members of the triad is necessary and is EXPENSIVE.

In order to have a system which DOESN'T coerce women to place, there has to be a way to successfully absorb all the myriad of costs involved when an expectant mom chooses to parent, instead. Otherwise, the agency goes out of business. How does an ethical agency going out of business help the situation?

In order to have a system which provides counseling to parents, but especially birthparents, there has to be a bucket of money to pay those who do the counseling and the materials they provide.

Should social workers work for free? Should they spend their 50, 60 or more hours ensuring rights are met for everyone without pay? Or do they, like the rest of the free world, deserve compensation for doing a thankless, long and harrowing job? Does anyone see social workers driving Humvees or living in mansions? No. Social workers, like teachers, do the world's hardest job and receive compensation that is more often than not a poor excuse for a living wage.

Like it or not, a QUALITY adoption program (and that is all there should be) costs money. Most birthparents are not in a position to pay for their own expenditures (some are, I know), but pre-natal care and unbiased counseling and hospitalization cost money AND have a significant impact on the unborn child's life. Most agencies, if they paid these costs "themselves" (rather than sharing costs with adoptive parents) would go out of business.

I think it would be fabulous if we could lower costs and raise quality and ethics in adoption. I've heard a lot of talk about needing to do that, but I haven't heard any workable ideas for how to achieve it.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Governement funding, perhaps? (although that brings a whole load of trouble in itself.....). A payment plan spread over more time?

Anonymous said...

Petunia and tishslp: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Some people were griping about "non-profit" adoption agencies and how much revenue they netted.

It is important to know that the statue "non-profit" has nothing to do with how much money is made, or netted. It has to do with whether or not the company works for the "greater good."

Some people - who will not be named, but are ignorant anti-adopters - argued that adoption agencies do not work "for the greater good" because they "break up families" (which is bs).

The government does consider adoption agencies to work for the greater good because they provide services to people who do not pay for them (rent assistence, counseling for pregnant women, etc.) and do not require the pregnant woman to pay back the costs of those received services if she decides to parent before or after the birth.

The fact that birth moms don't have to pay anyone back for the assistance they received is one of those conviently forgotten facts.

LeRoy Dissing said...

I agree that there is a lot of administrative/support overhead to run an agency that provides adoption services. What role do you play in your agency Petunia if I may ask? Are you a social worker?

petunia said...

Leroy, I'm a Gerontologist...I work with old people. I found our agency in our city and really liked that they were small and really cared about each bioparent.

petunia said...

One of the Anti-crowd wrote
"I better stop talking, I don't want to be a venomous hate-spewing broken record".... wow, that's exactly what they sound like...

Tishslp said...

"venomous hate-spewing broken record".... wow, that's exactly what they sound like... "

Well, they do seem to be pushing a fairly agressive and personal-experience-driven agenda. It's unusual, in my experience with the "anti's" for them to be self-reflective enough to realize what they sound like to others......

Heather said...

I understand what you're saying about costs but I'd like to know why some kids (usually the more desireable ones) are more expensive than other kids (usually the less desireable ones) Like why is there a scale of fees? White kids seem to be more expensive whereas you can pay less for a black or special needs kid. I would have thought the costs of a special needs kid would actually be higher than that of a healthy white child.

I'm just curious about this surely the fees should be the same and equal for all children IMO

petunia said...

No, it is not right - it makes it seem that AA kids or kids with disabilities are not "worth" as much as other kids, their lives don't have as much value and that is just not true. However, there are government grants and money available to help those kids get adopted because they are harder to place. The fees are subsidized with the agency we used.... it's not that the fees for the lawyers and social workers etc. are less.
All children need a home and to be loved...why can't it be easier? why do we have to convince people to do it? If it didn't cost so much - period - we wouldn't have as much trouble finding kids homes.