The Adoption Process: Adoption Costs and Requirements

by | Aug 9, 2023 | Adoptive Families Blog

Affectionate adoptive couple learned about adoption costs & requirements before adopting baby girlThere are many reasons why people want to bring a child into their family through adoption. Arriving at that decision requires a lot of decisions, including thought and consideration about adoption costs and requirements.
 
Adoption can be a beautiful way to begin or expand your family. However, adoption can also be challenging. There are complex steps to complete, adoption laws to follow, and challenging emotions to navigate. You can count on Lifetime Adoption to help you overcome these challenges and fulfill your dreams.
 
Feeling anxious about the details is a normal response, especially when it is something you’ve never done before. There are a lot of different questions that will pop into your mind. But don’t worry! You are not alone in feeling a little bit overwhelmed at what the journey toward adoption will be like.
 
Here, we will answer some common questions about adoption costs and requirements we’ve gotten from families considering domestic adoption in the United States. (Currently, Lifetime does not offer services for international adoptions.)
 

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Adoption Costs and Requirements – What does the process look like?

When considering adoption, think about what type of adoption you are most interested in.
 
First, determine how old you want the child to be. Do you prefer bringing home a newborn? Or perhaps you are open to a toddler or school-aged child. Or maybe you have always thought about adopting an older child or a sibling group. All these adoption options are available.
 
Newborn or infant adoption is usually the most common request we get at Lifetime Adoption from adoptive parents.
 
Toddler adoptions do happen as well. These children are between one year old and three years old, and they are placed for adoption for a variety of reasons. If you choose this option, you will be given the child’s history, in addition to important medical and developmental information that you’ll need to know about.
 
Adopting an older child is a great option for families who want to bypass the newborn or toddler phase. Oftentimes, older kids are placed in the foster care system, so choosing this type of adoption will give a child a loving, permanent home in which they can continue to grow and mature.
 
A big part of the adoption process is completing an adoption home study. This typically involves a criminal background check, personal references, and a social worker’s visit to your home. There will also be a review of your financial situation and medical history.
 
Your Lifetime coordinator has referrals to qualified home study providers nationwide. If you are in Florida, we would be thrilled to complete your home study ourselves!
 
Working with an adoption agency will also require some different paperwork. Your Lifetime Adoption coordinator will make sure you know what paperwork is involved so you can get everything submitted on time and to the right people.
 

What are the requirements to adopt?

We, along with the expectant parents, are looking for families that can provide a healthy, stable life for a child. Applicants must be at least 21 years old and demonstrate a stable lifestyle.
 
We will have you fill out an application and will review it in detail. Lifetime Adoption limits the number of families we work with monthly. This ensures that each family gets the personalized attention they need.
 
After the screening process, we will determine if you are selected to contract with us to start the adoption journey.
 
You’re well on your way to adopting a baby!
 
Once you have been cleared to meet with expectant parents, you will be able to start the match process. After a birth mother decides to match with you, you will work with her as well as the adoption coordinator to create a plan of action that covers the hospital and birth plan, plus details like contact during and after pregnancy.
 

Can we adopt a newborn?

Yes. Infant adoptions are common. Every day we have prospective birth parents calling our team at Lifetime Adoption. We work with expectant mothers as well as those that have already given birth to their child.
 
We will help you create a family profile that will be presented to birth mothers. Each birth mother has different qualities that she is seeking in a family. If she selects you to talk to, you can start the process of getting to know each other to see if it’s a good match.
 

Are we too old to adopt?

While there is typically no maximum age for adoptive parents, age will be considered during the adoption process. Ultimately, this is because everyone is looking out for the best interest of the child. The birth parents and adoption professionals want to make sure that adoptive parents are healthy and will be able to handle the child as she grows up.
 
Will the adoptive parents be able to run after a toddler or manage a rebellious teenager? If a child has behavioral problems or special needs, will the adoptive parents be able to devote the physical and emotional energy needed to support the child? And will they live long enough, through the child’s 20s and beyond?
 
At Lifetime Adoption, we review applications thoroughly and will give prospective adoptive parents honest feedback if we feel age may be a concern. Many birth parents prefer to place their babies with younger adoptive parents, so prospective adoptive parents over 40 hoping to adopt may experience longer waiting periods. We want to offer contracts to those we feel confident we can help, so we may limit older prospective adoptive parents if we are not able to foresee a reasonable wait.
 
One of the biggest concerns about parents hoping to adopt later in life is the age difference between adoptive parents and their child. Can middle-aged adoptive parents be active and hands-on with their child for 20+ years? Will illness or disability decrease the quality of life for the family?
 

How do we know if we’re ready to adopt after experiencing infertility?

We know that your path to considering adoption was not easy. Adoption after infertility is very common. According to a National Council for Adoption survey in 2021, more than one-third of adoptive parents said they were inspired to adopt after experiencing infertility. Adopting after infertility brings with it a unique need for preparation given the grief and loss that many infertile couples have experienced.
 
To answer the question about adoption readiness, think about why you are hoping to adopt. Are you making this decision because you feel hopeful and ready to welcome something new? Or do you feel that adoption is your only choice?
 
While there are no right or wrong answers, being honest with yourself is important. Couples who have spent years experiencing infertility and failed fertility treatments need time to process the grief and loss of not being able to have a biological child. Adopting a child won’t automatically resolve this grief and loss, and adoption shouldn’t be looked at as a cure for infertility.
 
Processing grief is a difficult, yet crucial first step in adopting after infertility. Even though this grief may never go away entirely, you should be able to manage these feelings in a healthy way. It’s in the best interest of you, your spouse, and the child that you adopt if you can avoid rushing this step. By taking the time you need to work through these emotions, you’ll be emotionally ready to prioritize the child that you will adopt. If you feel that you have fully processed your grief, you are likely ready to pursue adoption.
 
Every person’s experience with infertility is unique, but you always deserve respect, care, and compassion. As a trusted adoption resource, we can provide you with comprehensive information customized to your needs and outlook as someone who has already walked a difficult road toward starting or growing your family.
 

Is adoption expensive?

The costs of a domestic adoption vary and are based on many different factors. The average cost of an adoption can range anywhere from $5,000 to $70,000, although it can be much less costly than that. In other words, adoption does not have to be cost-prohibitive; you don’t have to be a wealthy family to adopt a child.
 
There are different methods you can raise that money, too. For example, there are adoption tax credits available. In addition to saving your own money and budgeting for an adoption, fundraisers and other adoption benefit events are very common ways to plan for adoption fees.
 
Lifetime works with people of all kinds: teachers, nurses, truck drivers, daycare workers, business owners, and much more. Adoption requires some financial planning, but keep in mind that many adoptive families are often working-class folks who simply have a heart for bringing an adopted child into their home.
 
Still, there are monetary considerations, especially if you think you may need financial support to pay for independent adoption attorneys or agency fees.
 
The bottom line is that when it comes to adoption costs and requirements, you are not alone. Many people have traveled the road you are on right now. Many of them were able to achieve their dream of adopting a child despite what they at first perceived to be a daunting process and financial obstacles.
 
The best approach is to address those obstacles honestly and with an open mind. Only then can you begin the work of overcoming those obstacles in order to put together a plan that works best for you and your family.
 

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on May 26, 2021, and has since been updated. 

Heather Featherston

Written by Heather Featherston

As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.

Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.

As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.

Read more about Heather Featherston

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