Monday, March 26, 2007

The Price of a Child

My next-door neighbors are adopting a child from Ethiopia. The people across the street are about to bring home a new daughter from Columbia. And then there's Angelina, Madonna, and Meg Ryan. It seems like everybody's doing it. You know, adopting third-world orphans.

I am not angry or indignant that these well-meaning people are adopting internationally as opposed to saving the poor kids in our own over-crowded foster care system. In fact, I even went online myself and investigated the possibility of adopting a child after seeing my fifth article/Oprah episode/PBS special on AIDS orphans in Africa. I'd convinced myself that it was my duty and obligation to save a child from the horrors of such a life. I even got my husband to consider the possibility...Until I saw the price tag attached to saving such a life.

Almost every website I checked out estimated the cost of an international adoption to be between $15,000-$22,000! I know the price tag on human life should be in the multi-millions, but how in the world can a person with good intentions but empty pockets be expected to come up with that kind of money? On one website, they actually addressed that issue and suggested such possibilities as "Ask friends or family for a loan." And " Take a second mortgage out on your house." Gee thanks. And then what? Bring your new child home to live in First World poverty because you just spent your whole life savings just to get them in the country? Some websites offer suggestions for coming up with the cash, but the underlying message is that if you want a child badly enough, you will come up with some way to pay for it and ultimately the sacrifice is worth it.

I might be the only person though who thinks that the cost of international adoption is insane. Indeed the number of international adoptions in Ethiopia is skyrocketing, so much so that some agencies are warning of an increased wait time to be assigned a child because of the demand. But who is doing the adopting? Even though Ethiopian social servants claim to prefer placing their orphans with Black families, the number of Black families looking to adopt is small. Is that because of the financial burden or are Black people just not as interested in international adoptions? I'm going to hazard a guess and assume that money has something to do with it. But maybe not.

I'd love to hear from someone who has some experience with international adoptions. How do people pay for a child? Should there be financial aid for colored folks to adopt colored babies? Would that be like Affirmative Action? Let's hear it?



owlhaven said...

We tried to adopt a baby from the US. After a year of waiting, an expectant woman chose our family, only to change her mind after the baby was born and after we flew across the country to be there.

Totally within her right and I support that decision. But very sad for us nonetheless. (BTW, we would have paid about $13,000 for that adoption, had it gone through.)

It is more affordable to adopt through the US fostercare system, if you are fortunate enough to have the system work out for you.

I have a good friend, an experienced mom, who got a homestudy and prepped to adopt out of fostercare. She and her husband were hoping for a sibling group of 3 older children of any color. They waited two years. Their homestudy expired twice. They were matched to one sibling group for over a year, suffering delay after delay after delay.

Finally the social worker told them that the foster family 'didn't think the kids were ready to be moved'. The foster family didn't want to adopt them, mind you. They just wanted to tie the kids up so no one else could. My friend finally gave up.

In contrast, I have adopted four children internationally, two from Korea and two from Ethiopia. the longest adoption took eight months, and each cost in the range of $12,000-$15,000.

Twice we refinanced the house (at a lower, better interest rate- our house will be paid off in 9 years, Lord-willing). Once we got an inheritance, and once we sold a large piece of equipment.

Many people put that amount of money on a vehicle loan, sometimes after just a day or two of thought about the indebtedness. We are investing our lives and our resources in people, and we are eternally grateful for the privilege.

Mary, mom to 8, and planning to adopt again in 2008, Lord-willing

lori said...

Thanks Mary for your throughtful and infromed comment.

I still wonder if some people are deterred by the initial price tag attached to international adoption? Hearing your story it sounds doable, but I'm sure many folks assume that they just won't be able to come up with the funds.

I suppose the old adage, "where there's a will there's a way," must really come into play, because ultimately there really is no price for a child.

Thanks for reading the Meltinpot!

Kari said...

There is an adoption tax credit that is around $10,000. But, if you are adopting internationally, you can't claim it on your taxes until the year the adoption is final. So you still need to be able to pay for everything, but some of it will come back to you later.

The costs for adopting are spread out over the length of the process, so that helps. But generally I would say the cost is difficult and could be a barrier to many people. There are organizations out there that provide grants, though. But I don't think your average person would know about them unless he/she was already pursuing adoption.