Adding a child to your family through adoption is one of the most amazing lifelong journeys one can take. Often, we are asked questions such as: How do you adopt a child? Do I qualify for adoption? How much does adoption cost? How long will the adopt process take? These are all excellent questions. But how do you decide if adoption is right for you? Adoption can be an emotional rollercoaster full of questions and paperwork. Although it can seem overwhelming at first, hopefully some of the following information will help you navigate the process.
Firstly, adoption is a process. There is no instant gratification and the process can seem overwhelming at times. However, there are very specific steps necessary to prepare to become an adoptive parent.
Once you are approved as an adoptive home, you will
- Seek a match/be chosen by a birth mother
- Prefinalization visits
Do I qualify for adoption?
The qualifications for adoptive parents to adopt are based on both state law and agency requirements. The basic qualifications for adoption as are follows:
- You must be at least 18 years of age to adopt
- At least one person in your home must be a US citizen
- You must have an approved homestudy assessment
- You must have enough income to meet the basic needs of those living in your home and for those you adopt
- You must obtain a criminal and child abuse background check
Every state has different laws for adoption. Be certain to review the laws in your state regarding adoption requirements.
How much does adoption cost?
The cost of adoption depends on the type of adoption. If you choose to adopt a child from the state foster care system, an adoption can cost anywhere from $0 to $10K. This depends on whether you adopt directly through the county in which you reside or through a private agency. A private agency can assist you with locating a child that is waiting either in or out of your state of residence; whereas your county agency will seek children within the local county.
If you are seeking to adopt a newborn the fees will be determined by the state in which you adopt and the adoption laws. There are many variables in the cost of adoption, such as:
- Birthmother living expense limits: For example, in Ohio living expenses cannot exceed $3K. While in Florida the law states to not exceed 5K, but there can be an exception to exceed this expense limit if the court approves additional reasonable funds such as rent, clothing and utilities.
- Legal fees: Ohio legal fees usually range from $3K-6K, but legal fees in Florida can be $5k-$10K
- Court costs due vary from county to county
- Homestudy services: Ohio averages $1,600 but in other states the fees can range from $1,000-$5,000
Even though an adoption can cost you $25K in Ohio and perhaps $35K in Florida you may be able to recoup some of these expenses through the adoption tax credit. The federal tax credit is $14,080. In addition, many states have an adoption tax credit you can utilize also. Ohio has a state adoption tax credit of $10K.
How long does it take to adopt a child?
Adoption can be very time-consuming and stressful. It’s also unpredictable in that it may take a few months or several years. Waiting is absolutely one of the most difficult parts of adoption. When considering how long it takes to adopt a child, there are few major factors to take into consideration including the age or race of a child and the type of adoption.
- The type of child you seek is the largest impacting factor. There is a much longer wait for infants than for older children. Many older children, special needs children, and sibling groups wait for years without ever finding an adoptive parent. Being open to adopting children of more races/ethnicities means your profile will be seen by more Birth Parents, which may help in minimizing your wait time. Even being gender specific, only wanting a boy or girl, can increase your wait time. Many times, a birth mother may not yet be able to know the gender of her child prior to choosing an adoptive family.
- Financial factors can weigh in on the wait time as well. Do you have a budget to allow you to adopt from more than one state? If you limit yourself to adopting a child from only one state, it may take longer. If you choose to look in multiple states, the time may be shorter but cost more due to state laws and different factors such as birthmother living expense limits.
- The level of openness you are willing to have with your birth mother may also be a contributing factor. Most adoptions today are open or semi-open in which the birth mother may request photos and letters or even, in rare cases, a visit. Some birth mothers may prefer a closed adoption, but typically the adoptive family will at least establish some communication with her prior to the birth of the child. Only opting for a closed adoption may limit your opportunities.
The wait time can be dramatically affected by your own personal desires and wants in your adoption plan. Being flexible in your requirements for a child can decrease the time required to be matched.