In my previous post I broke down the fees that we have paid for our adoption so far ($14,755). That’s a lot less than $40,000 (the estimated total for our adoption). So, where is the rest of the money going?
Our next step is a home study update in December. Our home study has to be updated by our in-state agency yearly until we receive a referral. The fee for the actual update is $1,000. To have our home study updated, though, we also have to have medicals done again (blech!). We recently switched pediatricians and when our new doctor heard that we were getting physicals done for an adoption, she graciously gave us a huge discount on the children’s exams. She normally charges $200 per new patient, but she only charged us $135 for all three of our children! Such a blessing! Joshua and I still have to get physicals done (with more lab work) and I’m not sure how much that will cost yet, but it could be another $900 if it’s close to what it was last time.
Once our home study update is complete, there are no more fees until we accept a referral (unless, of course, it takes more than year to receive a referral, which would require another update). When our agency presents us with a referral, they give us all of the information they have on a particular child they think would be a good match for our family. We have some time to review the details and seek advice from a doctor on any special needs the child may have. Once we accept a referral, there is a $12,000 fee which goes toward supporting the orphanage, maintaining the agency's foreign licensing, program costs, and supporting other humanitarian projects. Thankfully, we have been blessed with two grants which cover this fee. (If you are in the process of adopting, look into applying for grants from Show Hope and the JSC Foundation – they are great organizations!).
At the time of referral, we also owe our placement agency a final processing fee of $3,200. This money covers in-country representation, foreign office maintenance, dossier translation, document registration, court fees, a birth certificate and passport for our child, authentication fees, our child's medical exam and background verification, as well as caring for our child post referral.
After we accept a referral, it can take up to three months to get everything in order for travel. During that time we will attend an educational seminar to help prepare us for bringing our child home. The cost of that seminar is $200.
After that, most of the money goes toward travel costs. Ethiopia requires two one-week trips. During the first trip we will meet our child and have a court hearing. On the second trip, which is usually about two months later, we finally get to bring our child home. For these trips there are passports to apply for ($120 each), airfare to buy (costing anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 per person, per trip), Ethiopian visas to obtain for us ($40 each), and a U.S. visa to obtain for our child ($230). In addition, we will have in-country expenses such as lodging (roughly $700), food (estimated at $200 per person), and transportation ($500). It’s hard to get a good estimate of what the airfare and in-country expenses will total. A lot depends on what time of year we travel, and how much things change between now and the time we accept a referral. For our total travel needs, we are budgeting at least $12,000. These travel costs are not set by the “adoption industry.” These are fees set by airlines, governments, and private business owners and have nothing to do with taking advantage of orphans. They are simply prices that anyone traveling to Ethiopia would have to pay. It’s just that adopting from Ethiopia requires travel, and traveling happens to cost a lot of money.
When we return to the states, we will have three post-placement visits with our home study agency at a cost of $900. This is something that the Ethiopian government requires and will be the final stage of the process. After that, the adoption will be complete and our little one will be legally recognized as our child!
God has blessed us with the money to cover all of our expenses so far, and enough money has been raised for the next step of having our home study update. Thanks to the grants we received, we only owe $867 at the time of referral. That plus the seminar, travel costs, and post-placement fees are basically what we have yet to cover. We are over halfway funded and are currently aiming to raise $15,000 more to be sure we have enough to complete our adoption, leaving room for any increased travel costs and unexpected in-country expenses.
I hope these posts help alleviate some concerns about the cost of international adoption. It is NOT all about child trafficking. Not at all. International adoption is about caring for vulnerable children. Does it cost a lot of money? Yes. Whose fault is that? Well… it isn’t the “fault” of one single person or organization. An international adoption requires the cooperation of many different entities. Adoption agencies, governments (local, federal, and international), medical teams, and transportation companies are all involved in bringing a child into this country to be adopted. They all set their own fees, many of which are not adoption specific.
International adoption is crazy expensive. I'm not arguing otherwise. When we first started researching, I didn’t think there was any way we could afford it. But the more we prayed and considered, the more convinced we became that there is no price too high to give a child a home. Every child deserves to be brought up in a safe, loving, Christian family. International adoption is not the only method of providing that, but there truly is a huge need there. Children are waiting, all over the world. What will you do to help?