May 27, 2014

How Much Does a Baby Cost

Nobody wants to put it in those terms. "Can you put a price on your child?" and other saccharine, useless platitudes come to mind. But let's cut the bullshit and be real: If you are building your family in the "traditional" way, your expenses don't come even close to what those of us on the other end of the spectrum have to consider. And they *must* be considered - weighed in the pros and cons. Because these can be life altering expenses if you don't prepare yourself.

I've been investigating adoption agencies in my area over the past week. For the most part, fee schedules and individual expenses are either listed on websites or easily available by requesting the digital information packet. And this is what I've found:

M and I need to be prepared to spend $29,000 to bring home a baby through domestic adoption.

Twenty-Nine THOUSAND dollars.

I knew adoption was "expensive" in that vague, generalized way that most people think of a sports car being expensive. But when you're watching Top Gear and they tell you that the Bugatti Veyron costs 1.5 million Euros, the word "expensive" almost doesn't cover it.

To be fair, on average, the adoption agency fees only add up to $19,000 (haha, "only" is so relative, isn't it?). The other $10K comes from two expense categories: Birth mother living expenses and Birth mother medical expenses. In my state, Birth mothers are allowed to request up to $3,000 in living expenses from the adoptive parents before the baby is born/placed. A few websites I found indicate that medical expenses, if not covered by an insurance plan or Medicaid, are to be paid by the adoptive parents and you should budget $7K for an average in-hospital, vaginal delivery. Let's not even think about complications, emergency C-sections, etc. Fortunately, the baby gets Medicaid coverage (at least as far as I can tell), so there are no additional expenses when it is born.

Now, we are doing pretty well, financially, for a couple from our generation. I graduated from college a year before the economy tanked and we got married during the worst year of the recession. Due to a number of factors (many of them not of our own doing), we have managed to pay off my student loans, kept M's to a minimum, and had money already set aside for a mortgage down-payment so we could get a house as soon as M got a job. We have relatively low debt for our socio-economic cohort and have very healthy savings accounts. If we wiped out every cent of savings we have, it would not cover half the expense to adopt.

This is not to say that the full $29K burden rests on our shoulders. We do have to pony up the cash up front, but both of our employers have adoption expense assistance benefits and, combined, we can be reimbursed $9,000 after finalization. And most people know about the adoption tax credit which can be used for the tax year the adoption is finalized or up to 5 years after. For 2013, I think the credit was $12,500 or so and it goes up incrementally every year or so (I don't know for sure).

So now that the money talk is out in the open, I have to revisit a question: Is this worth it? I felt that IVF was emotionally as well as cost prohibitive - is this any different? Would we be better off throwing our savings at more medical expenses trying to have a biological child? A fresh IVF cycle at my clinic costs $12,000. You can complete a series of 3 for like $20,000 (bulk pricing?). ::sigh:: It is just so expensive to be on this side of family building. "Normal" parents gripe about their hospital bill, but here we are shaking imaginary money trees just to *try* to have a kid. No one is promising that it will work, whether we choose IVF or adoption.

Honestly though, I suspect our odds of bring home a baby are better if we go the adoption route. I'm very wary of our chance of success with IVF considering how every other medical intervention was one epic fail after another. I still think there is an un-diagnosed issue with either myself or M and if we don't know what that issue is, IVF may not work either. And then what do we have to show for our $12,000? More heartbreak. Even if a birth mother chose us and the placement fell through, we don't lose all the money we spent. Agencies will even refund some money if a match doesn't result in placement. You don't have to start aaaaaaaall over again, you just go back to showing your profile. There is still heartbreak, but the financial sting is lessened and you can jump right back into the pool of prospective parents without laying out another ten grand.

I know there are books and websites and Youtube serials all about how to adopt with no debt, but, to be honest, I have no energy or interest in hosting a hundred yard sales, bake sales, church fundraisers, etc. just to collect a few hundred dollars to *slightly* off-set the cost of adoption. I work full time, so does my husband, and we are tired bums half the time as is. If I tried to do that, I really would give up on adoption. (I would much rather make requests for help with furnishing our nursery and gathering the supplies to care for an infant.) And I already know we would not qualify for any special grants from non-profits or government agencies because we are planning on a private infant adoption. I can accept that. The adoption benefits from our employers and the federal tax credit are far more financial support than we have or would *ever* receive for infertility treatments.

Maybe we will match with a birth mother who has insurance. Maybe we will match with a birth mother who needs an emergency C-section. Maybe we will have to renew our home-study 3 times before we are matched. So be it, I guess. I want to go into this with eyes wide open. It doesn't change that $29,000 price tag, but if M and I make the conscious choice to commit our money to this, then I know we will get through it. God has provided through my whole life, it's not like He's going to ditch me *now*.


  1. Wow. I had no idea that expensive was THAT expensive!

  2. So I'm gonna tell you something a little scary...we budgeted for $30,000. And in the end we spent $40,000. Disgusting no?

    Our situation was odd though. Our birth mother originally signed with one agency, the ended up also signing with our agency so we had to pay double agency fees which added up to about $8,000 more than we planned. We could have said no because of this and waited for another baby but we knew this was the one. We paid around $10,000 for our birth moms hospital expenses. She had a vaginal birth and a 2 day hospital stay. The baby was covered under our insurance from the moment she was born which was a relief.

    The tax credit is currently $12,500 and we qualified for the whole amount. However we won't receive it till next year because you get it the year the adoption is finalized which was 2014 for us. It definitely helps but we still paid way too much. This is what is so frustrating when people say "Just Adopt" Oh...okay! I will just pull that extra 30 grand out of my pocket and go get me a baby!

    I feel like the adoption business definitely takes advantage of adoptive parents. I had no problem paying my birth moms fees. It was the least we could do. But the fees that went to the agency where huge. Adoption shouldn't be a business but it is.

    1. There is one agency in my area that I feel strongly drawn to because of the way it appears that they handle birth mothers. They actually flat out say "you can choose to parent your child". I want to interview them to learn more, but I think the cost would be more acceptable to me if I knew it was going back into an agency that genuinely cares about helping expectant mothers make their parenting decision and honestly offering up that they can choose to parent and that is completely okay. I think a lot of places may feel that goes without saying, but really it doesn't! People who are emotionally vulnerable need to be reassured of the validity of *all* their options, not just the one that benefits the adoption agency. Can I ask how you and your husband chose to finance your adoption? You can email me if you don't want it on a public comment.

  3. That is an incredible amount. I wish adoption was not so ridiculously expensive.

    With that being said, you will need to budget more than that for every year of college your plan to pay for for your child.