Financial Resource Guide for Parents Adopting Transcultural and Transracial Children

Adoption can be an amazing, blessed way to grow your family. However, it is not the kind of activity that you take on haphazardly or with a half-hearted attitude. Each adoption should be carefully considered and thoroughly researched, and adopters should be financially prepared for the event.

Adoption is a lengthy, one-of-a-kind process that includes many different steps, such as:

  • Choosing a professional to help you;
  • Going through a home study to prepare both your home and yourself for the adoption process;
  • Choosing a birth parent or child from a waiting list;
  • Bringing home the child and petitioning to adopt them;
  • Finalizing the adoption.

Before this process starts, it’s important to consider your financial preparedness. The adoption process is not a predictable expense. However, there’s no doubt that it is an expensive activity. Fortunately, there are many factors you can research to help prepare for those costs.

A key part of the financial preparations comes with considering what kind of adoption is right for you. This can include foster-adopting, domestic infant adoption, relative adoption, and international adoption. International adoption is particularly expensive and complicated.

In addition, both international and domestic adoptions can be transracial and transcultural. While this adds an extra layer of complexity to the acclimation process as well as certain expenses, it doesn’t change the fact that adoptions of this nature remain one of the most powerful ways to help children in need around the world.

There are countless benefits that come with transracial or transcultural adoptions, in particular. For instance, adopting a child from another culture creates a more diverse home environment.

The experiences and perspectives that someone — even a child — brings with them from another culture become a valuable addition to your home dynamic.

Transracial adoption can help your child confront differences within a healthy environment and develop effective coping skills for their adult life. This helps them (as well as the rest of your family members) mature and cultivate confident, positive identities that are rooted in self-esteem and unconditional love for those around them.

Additionally, adopting your child from another culture helps other populations that are less frequently adopted. For example, domestically, African American children often spend more time as legal orphans.

On an international level, U.S. adoptions plummeted 81% between 2004 and 2018. Adopting transcultural and transracial children into your home can help to ameliorate these ongoing struggles.

If you’re seriously thinking of trying an adoption of this nature, it’s an admirable consideration. However, it’s important that you do your homework to make sure that you’re personally and financially prepared for the adventure.

Readiness/Preparation

There are many steps in the adoption preparation process. Some of these are outlined below, with a particular emphasis on the financial readiness required.

Keep in mind that there are many other factors that also should be considered. Emotional and mental preparation is key. What are your reasons for adopting? Are they healthy, long-term objectives that will help sustain your family as you go through the transition of an adoption?

It’s also wise to prepare any biological children for the upcoming changes in your family’s dynamic. You’ll want to consider things like getting ready for a home study.

For now, though, here are some of the major financial considerations that come with a transcultural or transracial adoption.

Adopting in the U.S. or Internationally

The first question that should be answered is whether you want to adopt in the U.S. or internationally. This is an important distinction, as the processes are very different.

As a rule, domestic adoption is an easier (though still very complex) process, whereas international adoptions tend to feel like an insurmountable feat that includes:

  • Long and unpredictable wait times;
  • Countless forms and paperwork;
  • An endless need for witnesses and notarized documents;
  • Personal documentation and identification;
  • Intense logistical planning.

It’s wise to take the time to thoroughly investigate the adoption process in a child’s country of origin to help you prepare for any additional hurdles you may face.

As a quick aside, regardless of whether you’re thinking of adopting domestically or internationally, there’s a good chance that an adopted child will come from another culture. If that’s the case, it’s always a good idea to learn more about the customs and lifestyle of their home culture.

Travel Requirements and Costs

As you consider whether you’ll adopt domestically or internationally, consider the travel requirements and costs involved in the process.

For instance, you may be enamored with the idea of adopting a child from Nigeria. If so, it’s essential that you forecast the costs of buying plane tickets, hotel and lodging, and other various expenses as you travel back and forth completing the adoption process.

This shouldn’t be a deal-breaking consideration. However, it should certainly be in your mind as you consider the potential costs involved.

Adoption Budget

At a certain point, you’re going to want to start creating an adoption budget. It may not feel right putting your emotional dreams of a bigger family into dollars and cents, but this is a critical part of a successful adoption.

As you decide on what kind of adoption to pursue and mull over potential travel expenses, begin tracking the costs to create an adoption budget.

Domestic and international adoptions can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 on the lower end and $40,000 to $50,000 on the higher end, respectively.

The final costs depend on a variety of factors, such as:

  • Legal counsel;
  • Court expenses;
  • Agency costs;
  • Educational preparation;
  • Counseling;
  • Home studies;
  • Medical expenses;
  • Travel expenses.

Many of these costs will vary depending on the kind of adoption you’re considering. However, there are some budgeting factors you should review within your own life, as well.

If you have a traditional family with two parents, much of this process will be fairly straightforward. However, if you are a single-parent household, it’s important to consider the unique challenges that the adoption process will present. For example, you will want to go above and beyond to:

  • Demonstrate that you have consistent and competent income and money-management skills, respectively.
  • Ensure that your home passes the home study process with flying colors.
  • Show that you’re open to a diverse range of adoptive needs.

As a single parent, it’s essential that you show you’re capable of handling the adoptive process on your own in order to maximize your chances of becoming an adoptive parent.

Medical and Mental Health Needs

There are many medical concerns that must be addressed throughout the adoption process. These include physical, mental, and emotional needs. As is the case with most financially related adoption considerations, domestic adoption tends to be simpler to navigate. Medical records are easier to find and it’s easier to get healthcare coverage.

When you’re adopting internationally, medical history is often sparse or inaccurate and the child may require a complete physical examination as well as a comprehensive laboratory screening.

This will focus on nutritional, environmental, ethnic, and infectious disease risks. Often, health concerns like hepatitis or HIV will be a unique concern for international adoption candidates.

This involves multiple screenings, including an initial examination before they leave their country of origin. Immunizations will also be required along with visual, audible, dental, developmental, and other screenings.

Many of these will be more time-consuming and invasive than a traditional child’s wellness visit. They also may not be covered by a normal healthcare plan. However, some of the costs may be covered by an employer’s adoption subsidy or some other form of financial aid (many of which are covered below).

While medical costs are just another part of the adoption process, they often are very expensive and can extend far beyond the point when the official adoption is complete.

Financial Assistance

Up until now, everything has been focused on the expense of adopting a child. However, that doesn’t mean that the financial aspects of adoption need to rest solely on your shoulders.

Below are several recommendations for various ways that you can finance the adoption process with the help of governments, charities, and even your friends and family.

Government Grants and Loans

Right from the get-go, there are many government grants and loans that can help offset the costs involved in the adoption process. The most popular of these is the adoption tax credit, which can help to pay for legal fees, adoption fees, and even travel expenses.

There are also benefits that are offered to those who are adopting a child with special needs. However, there are certain eligibility requirements that must be met. In addition, federal laws require employers to extend your family’s health insurance policy to also cover a newly adopted child.

You can learn more about the available federal adoption credit and assistance programs on the IRS website.

Adoption Assistance Available by State

Along with federal aid, there is often financial help offered on a state-by-state basis.

For example, Illinois has set up the SASS (Screening, Assessment and Support Services) program. This offers a statewide system that helps children going through a mental health crisis.

Hawaii’s Department of Health, Family Health Services contracts with agencies throughout the state to help with supportive services such as counseling, as well.

Each state has its own offerings, many of which can be beneficial once your adoptive child is living with you and functioning as part of your family. It’s important to thoroughly research what your particular state offers.

Scholarships

Offsetting the expense of your adoption shouldn’t be your only concern. After all, the costs that come with raising a child can be astronomical whether they’re adopted or not.

Fortunately, there are many ways to find financial assistance in other areas of life, as well. Scholarships specifically geared toward adopted children are a prime example of this.

Take, for instance, a child adopted from foster care after the age of 13. When this happens, they can apply for educational funding via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This allows them to qualify for funding regardless of their adoptive family’s income.

With a transcultural or transracial child, there are several unique scholarships that you can consider, as well. Many of these are tailored to particular regions, cultures, and ethnicities. It’s always worth looking into what forms of multicultural and international adoption scholarships are available for your child to utilize in their educational journey.

Nonprofits Offering Assistance to Multicultural Adoptive Families

The list of adoption funding programs extends beyond government credits and educational scholarships. For example, here are a few of the most prestigious organizations offering adoption assistance:

  • Mixed Roots Foundation offers adoptee mentoring, sports events, and grantmaking services.
  • Pact is an adoption alliance that helps children of color and their adoptive families gain access to critical support and services throughout their lives.
  • There are many other groups, such as the Gift of Adoption Fund and A Child Waits Foundation, that also offer nonprofit assistance to multicultural adoptive families.

There are formal paths to take for big-ticket items like the adoption process and your child’s education. However, independent organizations like these can help you round out the financial- and resource-based gaps that come into focus as you adopt and raise your child.

Crowdfunding and Fundraising

If you find that the traditional paths to funding are either inaccessible or simply not enough, you can also turn to crowdfunding and fundraising as an alternative.

Organizations like AdoptTogether and A Family For Every Child specialize in orchestrating fundraising events for adoptions and helping to turn crowds into adoption communities.

However, it’s important to realize that the crowdfunding option should be approached very carefully — if at all. Though this can help ameliorate the issue of funding, you must be careful to avoid exchanging your adoptive child’s privacy to cover their expenses.

This is much like the fact that many bloggers will avoid using their childrens’ names or talk about their personal lives online. Though a community can help offset the costs of adoption, be aware that it naturally invites a large group of individuals into an otherwise very personal activity.

Additional Financial Options

As a final recommendation, you can also borrow funds to help with your adoption. If you’re sure that you can pay back the funds and you’re simply looking for some operating cash for the short term, this option helps streamline the logistics involved in the adoption process.

There are multiple kinds of loans that you can utilize to get the funding you need:

  • A personal loan is a lump sum of money that you can borrow from a bank or other lender and pay back in installments.
  • A home equity loan is similar to a personal loan but is based on the equity of your home.
  • A personal line of credit is a revolving account that you may borrow from as needed, rather than getting all of the funds at once and then paying interest on the entire amount.
  • A home equity line of credit is also a revolving line of credit that is, once again, contingent on the equity of your home.

Along with loans, you can also use a credit card to offset minor expenses. However, if you find yourself opting for this, don’t treat it as an easy way out. If you do, you’ll simply be kicking the can of your financial responsibilities down the road.

Instead, make sure that you’re familiar with how to use your credit cards properly. Don’t open a new card or expand your credit limit simply because you’ve already spent your available credit. Instead, use your card thoughtfully, set up automatic payments, and make sure that you aren’t stuck paying hefty, interest-filled bills down the road.

Finding Online Support and Additional Resources

As a final bit of helpful advice, it’s also wise to consider your own emotional and mental longevity throughout the adoption process. Take steps now to create a support network that will bolster you, help you cope with emotions, and provide crucial knowledge at the right moments.

Online Support Groups

There are many online resources for those who have adopted children. Many of these offer excellent support for transcultural and transracial adoptions, in particular.

For example, Adoptive Families has an entire portion of their site dedicated to multicultural adoption support groups. They also provide a smorgasbord of road-tested resources that can help with challenges such as overcoming language and culture barriers.

Other sites, such as American Adoptions News and Child Welfare Information Gateway, offer listings of support groups for adoptive parents and families. This can provide critical emotional support and camaraderie from others who already have or are still going through similar experiences.

Education and Training Groups

Finally, along with general support and resources, there are also organizations that offer educational resources and training groups.

FRUA (Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption) offers both online and offline educational resources for its members.

Adoption Learning Partners offers an online webinar series and training to meet the Hague’s requirements for international adoption.

C.A.S.E. (Center for Adoption Support and Education) lists books, publications, webinars, and other resources as well.

Whatever your particular adoption needs, there’s a good chance that you can not only find emotional support, but even formal training to help you meet them.

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