It’s no secret that raising a child isn’t cheap. And the cost to adopt can be significant. According to a survey conducted by Adoptive Families magazine, domestic (United States) newborn adoptions cost an average of $37,000 and international adoptions averaged about $42,000. Here in Maryland, the average cost of adoption ranges from $20,000 to $50,000 and varies depending upon the circumstances of the adoption. This is why financial stability is one of the criteria looked at during the adoption home study. So, it should come as no surprise that many hopeful adoptive parents wonder, “Can I adopt if I have debt?” Well, it all depends on your specific circumstances.
Can I Adopt if I Have Debt?
More than “60 percent of adopted children in the U.S. are adopted by middle- and lower-income taxpayers,” says Jim Daly, president of Focus on Family. So, debt is certainly not an automatic disqualifier for adoption. Agencies expect that most hopeful adoptive parents have a debt history. It’s just a fact of modern-day life. Between student loans, credit cards, mortgages, and car loans, very few people are debt free. We know “adoption agencies look at financial information,” explains Tomasa Duenas, adoptive parent. But what exactly are they looking for?
While your adoption agency isn’t necessarily checking your credit score (though some do) before you adopt a child, they will take a look at how you manage your finances. While you don’t have to be wealthy, or even debt free, you do have to demonstrate a stable income and the ability to provide for your growing family. After all, even after adoption fees, it still costs nearly $15,000 a year to raise a child, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
During the home study process, hopeful adoptive parents are required to turn in certain documents to assess financial stability, including their most recent income tax return, employment verifications (letter from employer or most recent pay stub) or non-working spouse statement (if applicable), proof of insurance (home, health, auto, life), etc. The agency may also review your monthly expenses or bank statements, as well as savings, investments, and, of course, debt. Combined, all of these factors will give your adoption social worker a pretty good understanding of your overall financial situation. So, debt is only one piece of the overall puzzle. As long as you can show you are in a good situation, even with debt, you will pass your home study (assuming no other red flags pop up during the process).
Financial Options to Help You Afford Adoption
“Sure, there are thousands of creative, boring, and downright ridiculous ways to save money for adoption,” writes Lori Resmer, Fund Your Adoption. However, we are sticking to a few key ways to help fund your adoption here in Maryland.
- The Adoption Tax Credit – $14,890 per child in 2022 – has helped make the adoption process not just affordable, but possible for countless families. “You qualify for the Adoption Tax Credit if you adopted a child and paid out-of-pocket expenses necessary to the adoption,” explains Dawn Davenport, Creating a Family. And if you do not have enough tax liability to use up the credit in the first year, you can carry it over for up to five years.
- There are a number of Adoption Grants available to help offset some of the costs associated with adoption. “Before awarding a grant, they review total household income, expenses, assets and liabilities, and want to see that you have demonstrated financial stewardship and commitment, which may include a second job or earning extra income, budgeting, fundraising, applying for several grants and anything else that shows your willingness to save money for adoption,” says Resmer.
- Some employers also have Adoption Benefit Programs, including financial reimbursement for adoption fees and paid leave. “Few employers advertise adoption benefits,” writes Michele Fried, The Penny Hoarder. “Don’t hesitate to dig a little deeper to see what might be available.”
- Click here to review the information about the Maryland State Adoption Assistance Program and the benefits that may be available to families who adopt children from foster care in Maryland.
Still Have Questions? Talk to an Adoption Counselor
The professionals at Adoption Makes Family have many years of experience in adoption services, and will walk you through every step of the adoption process. We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland, and our experienced adoption counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Call Us Now at (410) 683-2100
If you have any questions about saving for adoption, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our online contact form.