Once an individual or couple embraces the idea of international adoption a flood of questions flow from the imagination. Often at the top of the list is the “money thing” the seemingly “big money thing” that generally evokes a wide variety of reactions. From the “well healed”, “ okay, those are the cost, what’s the important stuff? “. More often the response might be, “ gee! that’s a lot of money for this noble undertaking.” On my journey as a one-man advocacy group I have learned the following:
1. When talking to others never say, “oh, about 25 grand”. I now volunteer the money issue up front, something like; “a few bucks for a home study, a couple hundred to the INS, donations to the orphanage, vacation travel expenses and of course the all important fees for professional assistance along the way”.
2. Every time I have stepped up and made an adoption commitment the financial requirements were satisfied by a conventional, prudent plan with a small touch of recklessness. And each and every time the results have far outweighed the risks.
3. This is not a financial emergency; the third letter from the IRS is a financial emergency. These fees will be due and payable at different intervals over a period of as much as 12 to 18 months. Re-shuffling priorities, hedging a bit here and there or simply taking a positive, proactive attitude toward the day by day plan to bring your child home will aid in your ultimate success.
4. Never say never!
When considering the costs it is extremely important to see the “big picture”. The understanding that the means may come from a variety of options is very important. Tax deductions, employee benefits, grants, loans, credit cards, even frequent flyer miles etc. should be considered as optional parts of the plan. The following information should be used as a starting point as you will most certainly discover that your effort and original ideas are directly proportional to your dreams.
Adoption Agency’s and Professionals
First you will select an agency as your representative during the adoption process. These professionals will generally provided you with an estimate of all costs related to your program choice. The breakdown should also provide timeline information you can use to determine payment amounts and intervals. If this is not included in your information packet be sure to request the breakdown and payment schedule. You should also request that your agency provide you with information regarding financial programs, loans, grants, etc. that may apply to your particular circumstances.
Scheduling the Costs
Once you have determined the program and the related expenses create a calendar including the months until anticipated travel. Breakdown your expenses into short term and long-term costs deducting any employee benefits and travel related discounts available. This is the “when” and the “why” the “how” is obviously a bit trickier. Looking at your expenses in the long term often times helps couple income projections with the expenses over the entire period.
· Employer Sponsored Benefits and Programs
A large number of U.S. Companies offer benefits ranging from paid leave to cash grants up to $5,000.00 and occasionally more in the certain circumstances, i.e. Wendy’s International increases the benefit if the child has special needs. Check with your personnel department or check the RK resources for a partial list.
· Tax Credits
Uncle Sam has a deal for you. The government has recently increased the adoption tax credit to $10,000; this is not a deduction but a tax credit. This credit reduces the tax burden dollar for dollar of adoption related expenses. For more information call you tax person or see the IRS instructions. You should also inquire about similar credits offered by state and municipal governments.
· Grants and Loans
There are a number of organizations with programs that offer small grants and loans specifically tailored for International Adoption. These programs usually will provide assistance for a portion of the expenses. The funds are normally offered for final expenses, rather than upfront cost, this is to insure full participation by the client or recipient. There is a partial listing of the institutions offering financial options at RK resources.
If you have no children the decision to adopt will be the most important choice of your life. If this will be your fifth child it is one of the top five most important decisions of your life. Remember those “major purchases” in your lifetime, car, house, boat, business, etc? Every decision was usually met with some trepidation, sleepless nights maybe even good old fashion panic. Yet as you look back you realize that the fear of new or added financial responsibility was unwarranted, you always found a way. Never lose sight of the importance of the task at hand, your adoption is not a “major purchase” to consider it one would evoke an uproar in the adoption community. It is your “major purpose”. Remember, there is a difference between real and perceived financial difficulties. Using the equity in my home I was able to secure a credit line that financed my first adoption. I have paid into and drawn from that account for three additional adoptions. But the fact of the matter is I would sell everything I own, work three jobs, eat sack lunches, ride the bus, and yes, sell cookies in the rain for the rest of my life just to spend a few moments with any one of my wonderful daughters. If you don’t understand this, you don’t have a child.