One of the first questions many families have during the adoption process is associated with its cost: How much income do you have to make to be able to adopt a child?
Though the income requirements for adoption don’t necessarily specify a certain dollar amount for adoptive parents to reach, adoption can be expensive, and an adoptive family’s finances will be considered as part of the screening and home study process. Parents wishing to adopt will have to prove that they are able to cover the expenses associated with adopting a child and, at minimum, most adoption professionals require prospective adoptive parents to make an income above the federal poverty level.
Whether the adoptive family is brand-new to parenting or has experience in financially supporting a child, this means that the process of adoption requires a significant amount of financial planning.
To understand whether you are financially prepared for the adoption process, you can learn more about adoption requirements with American Adoptions here. In the meantime, we’ve outlined some information that may help you better assess your financial readiness to adopt below.
Understanding Adoption Costs
Families choosing to adopt an infant are also choosing to make a big financial commitment. If a family is adopting within the U.S., the total cost of their adoption will depend on a number of factors, including the professionals they work with and the state where their adoption takes place. On average, a private domestic adoption will cost adoptive families $35,000–$50,000. With American Adoptions, these costs include the following services necessary for a successful adoption:
- Professional services for adoptive parents such as counseling, educational preparation, and general case management
- Professional services for birth parents, such as initial screening, 24/7 support, and post-placement counseling
- Birth parent expenses including delivery and hospital costs not covered by insurance
- Newborn care and services
- Legal expenses
- Investigative expenses such as state and local background screenings
- Adoptive family and birth parent correspondence
- Media and advertising across the country to ensure adoption opportunities
While these adoption costs can sometimes seem overwhelming, it’s important to understand that every fee involved in the adoption process serves an important purpose; there are many services and professionals necessary to ensure the most successful adoption possible.
There are also less expensive forms of adoption families can consider if they don’t feel prepared to meet the financial requirements for an infant adoption. For example, foster care adoption often costs very little — and sometimes, nothing at all. For families who are open to adopting an older child or sibling group, but who are not prepared to spend as much on their adoption, adopting from foster care can be a wonderful solution.
The Financial Requirements of Adoption
To make sure you are prepared for the financial commitment of adoption, your financial situation will be considered as part of the adoption home study. All states require that the adoptive parents undergo a home study process, which assesses hopeful adoptive parents to make sure they’re emotionally and financially prepared to welcome an adopted child into a stable, loving home. The evaluation of the parents’ finances will vary depending on the professionals they work with and their state’s requirements, so be sure to ask for the specific income requirements for adoption when choosing the home study professional that is right for you.
In general, most home studies will include an evaluation of the following documents:
- A report of overall family income, assets, and debt ratio
- Verification of family income (through a tax document such as a 1040 or W-2 form)
- Proof of health insurance
- Breakdown of monthly living expenses and other costs
- A credit check
The main goal of this evaluation isn’t to determine that an adoptive family is wealthy, but to verify that they are living within their means and maintaining enough of a surplus to cover the financial responsibilities of raising a potential adopted child.
Covering the Expenses
If a family falls short of the financial requirements to adopt, they still have several options to help them continue with the adoption process. These include:
- Filing for an adoption tax credit: How much you can claim depends on the type of adoption and the year in which it is completed, so make sure to stay current with the tax credit requirements that match your needs.
- Applying for grants and loans: This type of aid is made available through some insurance policies, religious organizations, private grants, and special loan programs. Do your research to find which ones are right for you.
- Hosting fundraisers: Many families have successfully raised money for their adoptions by holding community events such as car washes, ice cream socials, and bigger events like a 5K run or walk.
- Considering other forms of adoption: If an adoptive family doesn’t have the financial means to afford an infant adoption, they might consider adopting from foster care; total foster adoption costs are often $2,500 or less, and some expenses may even be reimbursed by the state.
If you’re worried about how much money you have to make to adopt a child, the financial hurdles of adoption can be made more attainable by preparing your finances ahead of time. Setting a budget, living within your means, and setting aside savings early can help prepare you for the financial responsibilities of adoption and ultimately, to care for your new child.
To learn more about the income requirements for adoption with American Adoptions, call 1-800-ADOPTION today or request free adoption information.