Yes, you’d think adopting a child should be free, but unfortunately, most international adoptions average somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000. Cost is the number one deterrent for people who would consider adoption. In fact, 33% of Americans would consider international adoption, but only 2% of those people who consider it actually do it (AbbaFund).
That’s a sad statistic.
Money is a touchy subject. Mostly, because it’s highly personal. We don’t really want details broadcasted like how much we have or don’t have, how much we give away, or how much we spend on ourselves. You try to keep that stuff private. Until you adopt that is. Somehow your adoption agency, your social worker, the US Department of Citizenship and Immigration, the Ethiopian government, the orphanages they operate, and the 50 non-profits we’re requesting grants from all know the intricate details of our net worth, annual income, monthly family budget, and weekly expenditures, not to mention the last 2 years of tax returns, W-2s, and 1099s.
You sort of begin to lose your sensitivities toward talking about a touchy subject, which is probably why we’re willing to write this blog.
So why does adoption cost so much?
Some people think you save up for a long time, stash the cash in a sealed envelope, and take it with you to a foreign country where you trade off at the orphanage for a child. Not true. To quote Adopted for Life, “The money isn’t rung up on a cash register at the end as someone scans your baby’s leg across an electronic reader.”
The sum is paid over the length of the entire adoption process. In ethical adoptions, the payment is for services and legalities, not for the child. And to break it down in the simplest form, it works like this…
About one third will go to our agency for their services in guiding us through the entire process and conducting our home study. No, they don’t profit from this. They are a 501c3. We pay them for their time over a 2-year period (or longer). And if you’re needy clients like us, that’s a lot of time.
The second third is due to the placing agency operating in Ethiopia at the time of referral. The last third is for us to travel to Ethiopia two separate times. The first trip is for a court date and the second trip is to bring our child home.
The US government also has its fair share of fees like passports, record searches, document authentications, immigration applications, etc.
In a nutshell, that’s why adoption costs so much. But by our gauge, none of that actually matters. Because here’s what God thinks:
“Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15).
We have been called and commanded to adopt (James 1:27). The culture of our family and our faith rejects the lies of the culture in which we live. What we accumulate says NOTHING about how much we are worth. Having more things will NOT make us feel any more fulfilled. God has not blessed us financially in order to indulge our consumerist binges.
Adoption, and the sacrifice required to make it happen, is a part of the Great Commission and a sign of the Gospel itself. Why it costs so much and how in the world we’ll pay for it matter little. No, matter none. The financial roadblocks that stand in our way are tiny stones that God will step over.
Let’s revisit Adopted for Life. “If God means for you to adopt, he’ll give you what you need to do so.”
May God use our family and the community supporting us to redeem the life of one child. Not to be seen or admired by men, but to lend credibility to the proclamation of the Gospel.