I always advise individuals to research each avenue and find the most suitable option for them. Adoption can be one of the most satisfying experiences of one’s life and should be pursued carefully.
The most underutilized form of adoption is through the foster care system. In Georgia alone, there are currently more than 1,000 children in custody with a goal of adoption. Many of these children have been classified as “special needs” because of mental, physical or behavioral disabilities, their age or simply because they are part of a sibling group.
People often write off the possibility of adopting a “special needs” child, simply due to the fear of the costs that might be associated that child. However, individuals fail to realize that it is federally mandated that states provide adoption subsidies for “special needs” children.
These monthly payments typically run until the child turns 18 and ensure that a prospective parent is not deterred from adoption because of potential expenses that could be incurred. This coverage typically includes tutoring, day care, psychological counseling and medical assistance.
If one adopts a child through the foster care system, one should expect an out-of-pocket expense of $0 to $2,500. However, it should be noted that, if one adopts a “special needs” child through Georgia’s foster care system, up to $1,500 per child can be reimbursed under Georgia’s Adoption Assistance Program after the adoption has been finalized.
In more recent years, international adoption has been on the rise. Today, it is not uncommon to see parents with a Chinese, Haitian, or Ethiopian toddler in tow. Adoptive parents often choose this route because the wait is frequently shorter, the fees can be lower, and the outcome can be more certain.
There are various agencies that handle inter-country placements. What very few people realize is that each country has requirements that must be met, and that it is not uncommon for individuals to be disqualified by a country or two. For example, if you’re an older couple or single individual, be prepared for fewer options when it comes to international adoption.
Since international adoption involves costs in two separate countries, and the fact that you will more than likely be required to spend some time in that specific country, international adoptions typically cost anywhere from $7,000 to $30,000.
Another popular option is for individuals to look for a child on their own. In an independent adoption, people typically start the process by mailing resumes to attorneys and obstetricians, creating a website or even running an advertisement in a variety of newspapers.
However, it should be noted that independent adoptions can be risky, and that a significant number of independent adoptions are never completed. This is simply due to the fact that birth mothers often have a change of heart and decide to keep the baby.
The total cost for an independent adoption usually ranges between $8,000 and $40,000. Of course, if you were to advertise extensively, or were to offer to pay for the medical expenses of the mother or child, then your total could easily be in excess of $40,000.
Finally, some individuals choose to use a domestic adoption agency. Not so long ago, families wanting to adopt put their names on a list and waited for a social worker to match them with a child. However, things have changed over the years, and now birth parents get much more of a say in choosing their child’s soon-to-be adoptive parents.
Today, most agencies send biographies of prospective adoptive parents to the birth parents to let them look over and pick who they are the most comfortable with. How open the adoption ultimately becomes depends on the agency and on the wishes of the birth and adoptive parents. This form of adoption is referred to as an open adoption.
If one would rather have no contact with the birth parents, they should look for an agency that still conducts closed adoptions. These days, most agencies encourage open adoptions and, if you insist on a totally closed adoption, your wait may be longer.
Typically, agency adoptions range from $5,000 to $40,000. As one can imagine, fees vary widely around the country and are affected by the types of services offered.
Accordingly, no matter what kind of adoption one chooses, working with an experienced adoption attorney is a must. The laws governing the adoption process in Georgia are complex, and there are specific limitations and requirements that prospective adoptive parents must fully understand. Thus, choosing an attorney who exhibits the highest degree of competence in the field of adoption is only to your advantage.
Trey Goodwin is a Partner with Goodwin & Goodwin, Attorneys at Law, LLP in Canton. He is a native of Cherokee County, and a graduate of Florida State University and Oklahoma City University School of Law.