Like many families who choose to add to their family through adoption, I have a few side-hustles and fundraisers that I work hard at to help off-set some of the costs. Inevitably I receive a few messages/comments saying these things:
"It should not cost so much to help a child"
"Foster care is free. It's ridiculous to spend that much money to adopt a child from another country."
"What about the kids right here in America??"
"Must be nice to have that kind of money laying around. I would like to adopt, too, but I am not rich."
"If you can't afford to adopt, then you just shouldn't instead of begging for money..."
And honestly, it's been enough years that the questions don't bother me, except for the fact that I think adoption is so misunderstood and I think that keeps the children who most need a loving family without one.
So from time to time, I like to address these topics because at the end of the day, perhaps you will find room in your home and heart for a little person!
1: It does not cost so much to help a child.
You can volunteer, mentor, foster. Adoption, though? It's a legal process and *yes* it absolutely should include a tremendous amount of oversight.
This is one that was never really hard for me to understand, even though the sum makes me choke, because all legal processes are costly.
No one is making $30,000 from an adoption! The "people" involved are being paid $16,000 divided between two agencies in two countries, for a year or more worth of work. That is $21 a day per agency to make sure all criteria are met for an ethical and legal adoption process, handle immigration, court, orphanage oversight, medical and visa appointments, hire translators for two trips, etc.
2. Foster care, actually, is only "free" to the family.
Those same legal fees are still accrued but the taxpayers pay them instead. So, actually, *I* paid for my international adoptions and *you* paid for us to be foster parents. Which we were. For years.
3. We love the kids right here in America. And we love the kids everywhere else, too.
We've opened our home to both, and we just love the kiddo in front of us, however they arrive. Our family has reached a size now, though, that we are no longer eligible to foster so from here on out it will be international adoption.
4. I wish I had 30,000 laying around, too, but I don't.
I do still acknowledge that it is a privilege to be able to adopt our kiddos and that we are fortunate that we are able to make the ends meet. I also work really hard to be able to do so. I also share our story in case others are inspired to walk alongside us, and that opens my family up to tremendous, and sometimes seemingly unending, criticism. We aren't rich or special, just the luck of the draw granted us a secure financial position and we are hard-working and not afraid to ask for help.
5. I both agree and disagree with the notion, "If you can't afford to adopt, then you just shouldn't instead of begging for money...".
I frequently say that if someone has no financial plan for an adoption, they should wait to begin one. I also had no plan this time and we are nearly funded, so I see that God moves mountains.
When we committed to the child we are now in-process to adopt, our plan was to divert all of my income to our adoption, which would have covered it by year's end. We, of course, did not see Covid coming so that plan was completely sabotaged and the Lord covered it all.
I can say, though, that the cost of raising our youngest daughter, Rosie, is high. Two hospitalizations, a feeding tube, four therapists and a team of specialists adds up even with awesome insurance. Her insurance-billable medical bills topped one million dollars last year. She came home on December 14, 2018 and we hit our deductible before year's end and again by mid January. The reason I share this is because I think that, more than the cost of the legal process, *these* are the expenses that more families need to focus on and prepare for when deciding to adopt and I think the reality of parenting children with special needs gets lost in the focus of the first $30,000.
I think families need to ask themselves: "How will I cover the adoption fees?" but even more so, "How will I cover the ongoing costs of raising a child with extensive trauma and medical needs?" Somewhere in there, for those who are able, also needs to be the question "What will happen to this child if I don't?" and for us... that was the greatest "cost" of them all.
We chose a route with dead ends... family or orphanage forever. The cost of "orphanage forever" is high. Someday soon, we will travel to bring our newest son home to a bright future and loving family. There is no price tag attached to that.
Stephanie McFarland is lucky to parent eight permanent members and a handful of former foster youth and teens who still call her "mama". Her family is in-process to add a ninth little sweetheart, a tiny guy from Eastern Europe who is rocking a set of designer chromosomes. Their dossier is complete and they are just waiting for the world to re-open their borders, and in the meantime are fundraising through their handmade soap shop, the longer table apothecary. She makes great stuff!