Deciding to expand your family through the gift of adoption is one of the biggest decisions you will probably make in your life. However, I can tell you it is one of the most beautiful and rewarding experiences as well. If you are anything like me, you are probably a little shocked at the “sticker” price that comes along with it. And you are asking yourself, “What kind of financial assistance is available to cover adoption fees and where should I go to find it?” I am here to hopefully help you find the answers. First and foremost, I want to advise you that this article does not constitute as legal advice, rather it is written using my own personal experience and research. Let’s take a look at what kind of financial assistance is available to cover adoption fees and where you should go to find it.
First and foremost, every adoption story is unique, which means every adoption does not cost the same. In fact, the cost is all over the board. It depends on if you are adopting internationally, domestically, or from the foster care system. To read more about how much adoption costs, check out the article here.
Federal Tax Credit:
With that being said, there is a federal adoption credit available to you if you live in the United States. The adoption tax credit is a non-refundable tax credit. Which means the credit is limited to your tax liability for the year. The tax credit for 2018 was $13,810 and it seems the tax credit for 2019 is $14,080. As you can see, this amount does not stay the same every year. Make sure to check with your accountant for the most up-to-date information regarding the tax credit amount.
If you have qualified adoption expenses, your tax liability can be “reduced” by the tax credit until you reach the maximum amount. For the sake of simple math, let’s say you had paid in federal taxes in the amount of $7,000 for the tax year 2018. Your tax liability would be reduced by that amount and you would still have a remaining $6,810 to carry over for the next tax year. I know in our personal experience, it took us two years to use the entire tax credit up.
I believe it is important to mention what expenses are covered with the federal adoption tax credit. Expenses that are included may be adoption fees, agency fees, home study fees, court costs, attorney fees, travel expenses, meals and lodging required while traveling, and other directly related fees. It should also be noted that these fees must be associated with the adoption of an eligible child who is under the age of 18 or is physically or mentally incapable of caring for themselves. If you have incurred any expenses related to the adoption of a stepchild, those fees do not qualify. Be sure to clarify all expenses with your tax preparer.
Employer Adoption Benefits:
Some companies also provide adoption benefits for their employers. These benefits will look very different for each company. Usually, the benefits will include informational resources, financial assistance, and parental leave. The informational resources may include referrals for licensed adoption agencies, access to adoption specialists, and help with special adoption situations. The financial benefits may include a lump sum payment, a payment of certain fees related to adoption, and/or reimbursement for expenses. The average payment is usually $4,000. Some employers pay benefits per adoption and some pay per child adopted. It is important to talk to your human resources department about what forms of adoption assistance they offer. Federal law requires companies with over 50 or more employees to offer mothers and fathers up to 12 weeks of leave for the birth or adoption of a child. Also, many states require employers to offer parental leave for adoptive parents. Some companies allow employees to take more than the 12 weeks of unpaid leave and use any accumulated vacation or sick time to extend their time “off” to bond with the child. If you are lucky, some companies offer paid time off for parents leave as well. Again, make sure to talk to your human resources department to discuss what they offer in the form of adoption assistance.
Another excellent way to find what kind of financial assistance is available to cover adoption fees and where you should go to find it is adoption grants. One adoption grant you can explore is a fundraising grant. A fundraising grant allows people to make a tax-deductible donation towards your adoption. There are several websites that you could use. I would suggest doing your own research regarding what fundraising platform would work best for you.
Fundraising grants allow people to make a tax-deductible donation towards your adoption. There are several websites that allow this to be accomplished, this is usually called adoption crowdfunding. I highly suggest you do your research and choose the site you feel the most comfortable with. We started the adoption process back in 2012 and started fundraising with an organization called Ordinary Hero. They have changed the way they fundraise a bit since then but it is a great fundraising tool. You sign up to be an affiliate with them and whenever someone makes a purchase from their website, you receive 30 percent of the sales. Back when we first started, they offered “bonuses” for whoever raised the most money during a certain period of time. We added a letter to our Christmas letters that included the link for the website and explained to our family and friends that we were adopting and this was a great way to help contribute to our family. Some people find it hard to “raise” money while adopting because if you were having a baby the “traditional” way, you wouldn’t be asking for money from people. There is nothing traditional about adoption, so why would there be a traditional way of paying for it!
I have also attended events that were meant to raise funds for their adoption. Some other ideas include bake sales; garage sales; hosting dinners; hosting a 5k running event; selling T-shirts, jewelry or any other item. Get creative and don’t be afraid to try different things out.
There are several direct adoption grants available. A simple Google search will result in several hundreds of different direct adoption grants. Each grant will have its own set of rules and regulations for applying. They will also have their own policy for payment and the amount you may receive. My biggest piece of advice is going to be, be prepared. There is usually an application that is associated with every grant. This will take time to complete, but if you have the information readily available, it will make filling the applications out that much easier. Here are a few of my favorite direct adoption grants.
A Child Waits:
A Child Waits is a foundation that provides grants for international adoptions, and it just launched a pilot program for domestic adoptions—ages 2-17, special needs adoptions (any age), and sibling groups. The grant may cover agency fees, attorney fees, and travel costs. The grant may award up to $7,000. There is a $20 application fee with A Child Waits but there is no strict deadline on applying for the grant. A Child Waits also offers adoption loans. The maximum loan amount given out is $10,000 with an interest rate of 3 percent. For more information about A Child Waits, check them out at https://www.achildwaits.org/.
Gift of Adoption Fund:
Gift of Adoption Fund awards monthly grants of up to $10,000 for adoptive parents in need. They also do not have an application deadline. To receive their grant, you must have completed your home study and not finalized your adoption. Gift of Adoption Fund provides grants to families who are pursuing both domestic and international adoptions. You must be a U.S. Citizen and must show a clear financial need. For more information on Gift of Adoption Fund, check them out at https://giftofadoption.org/apply-for-a-grant/
Help Us Adopt:
Help Us Adopt awards grants four times a year, which means they do have an application deadline. The deadlines for postmarking your applications are December 7, March 23, June 8, and September 7. To receive their grant you must be a U.S. Citizen, have a completed home study, cannot be pregnant, working with a licensed adoption agency or attorney, demonstrate a financial need, and not yet finalized your adoption. For more information on Help Us Adopt, check them out at https://www.helpusadopt.org/apply
Also, I recommend talking to your adoption agency to see if they have any adoption grants available. Our agency offered a small $500 grant. It may seem small, but every dollar counts!
Unlike most grants, adoption loans are paid back but usually with a lower interest rate than a traditional loan. However, I suggest this as your last option for obtaining the funds necessary to adopt. Adoption can be overwhelming and stressful at times, having the added stress of having to pay back a loan will only add to the burden. Make sure you have exhausted all your other options before going down this route.
SoFi is an online personal loan provider. You can obtain a personal loan of up to $100,000 and interest rates start at 5.99 percent. This is a quick and easy way you can obtain the funds needed to cover the costs of adoption. However, the interest rate will depend on the amount requested and your credit history. Be sure to pay attention to interest rates as it may get harder and harder to pay back the amount borrowed. For more information about SoFi, check them out at https://www.sofi.com/.
ABBA Fund is a Christian organization offering interest-free loans for Christian families who are pursuing the gift of adoption. The loans typically do not exceed more than one-third of the total cost of the adoption. Their average loans range from $6,000 to $8,000. Their application approval takes approximately six to eight weeks. Their review committee bases each application on the following: “heart for adoption, spiritual wellness of family, education and parenting values, financial stewardship.” For more information on ABBA fund, check them out at https://www.abbafund.org/.
I read a statistic along the way that somewhere around 79 percent of Americans interested in pursuing adoption are concerned about the cost. That is a high percentage of people who are worried about the financial hardship adoption may cause. I don’t want you to be one of them. It pulls at my heartstrings to know that there are people out there who will not go through with the adoption process because of the cost. I urge you to read this article, do your own research and explore other ways you can save for an adoption. As I mentioned earlier, get creative. Check with your local state to see if they have any state-funded programs that are available to you. Share your story. Start a blog that could potentially be used as a fundraiser. Host a social media fundraiser; this could be with a product or service. Crowdfunding is always an option too. We wrote letters to our family; social media wasn’t as prevalent back then! Whatever you do, just know that it is worth it in the end. The gift of adoption is beautiful, so don’t let the price stop you from achieving your dreams.
As mentioned above, I do not have any affiliation with the above-mentioned grants or loans but found them to be able to answer your question, “What kind of financial assistance is available to cover adoption fees and where should I go to find it?” I encourage you to do your own research and see what grants you may find. There are hundreds, probably thousands of them out there. A little work (actually probably a lot) will go a long way in helping you afford your adoption. Good luck to you in the future and I hope you found this article helpful. I hope you are able to find ways to offset the cost of adoption.
Jessica Heesch is an avid runner and fitness guru by choice, occasional writer by coincidence, loved by an amazing husband, and mother to an incredible boy, Jackson, by the gift of adoption.