An unfortunate reality of adoption is that the associated costs are often quite high for an average family. This leads many Floridians to believe that they cannot afford adoption, which is tragic both for the adoptive family and children in need.
However, there are many potential funding sources for adoption. Further, not all adoptions are associated with sky-high prices. Below, we cover some tips for Florida families who may be grappling with the costs of adoption.
Adopting a Waiting Child in Florida
Adopting infants independently or through an agency is notoriously costly. However, adopting a waiting child can dramatically reduce the costs of adoption. That means adopting a US child currently in foster care through a public agency. This is one of the most cost-effective forms of adoption.
Generally, the state will cover the costs of the home study for potential adoptive parents of a waiting child. The state may also provide adoptive parent preparation classes, and may cover the costs of post-placement supervision.
Similarly to adopting a waiting child, foster adoption involves few costs to the adoptive family. However, there are substantial levels of risk and openness involved with children first entering foster care, and we advise that you familiarize yourself with the foster system if you are considering foster adoption.
As a foster parent, you will receive a monthly allotment to cover costs associated with caring for the child, and the child will receive medical assistance. If you adopt the child, you will continue to receive this assistance.
Some agencies require a separate home study for foster parents versus adoptive parents, while other agencies provide dual licensing, allowing families to complete one home study for both fostering and adoption at no cost. Post-placement supervision can be provided by the same agency supervising foster care, and may also be free or low-cost.
Many employers now offer adoption benefits to their employees. Check with your employer’s HR department to find out if you have adoption benefits.
Benefits may include:
- Adoption information and referral services
- Legal expenses or supplemented legal services
- Agency fees
- Medical expenses
- Post-adoption counseling services
- Leave time for the adoptive parent
Some agencies offer a sliding scale for fees, in which the fee is based on the family’s income or ability to pay. If you are considering working with a private agency, ask if sliding scale fees are an option, even if they are not mentioned in the agency’s literature.
A sliding scale can reduce costs of the home study, parent preparation classes or post-placement supervision for low- or middle-income families. This allows families to focus their financial resources on raising their children rather than only on adopting them.
Most adoption agencies do not expect for the full cost of the adoption to be paid up front. Many agencies break payment into portions to be paid at different states of the adoption, or offer payment plans. This can make the costs associated with adoption more manageable.
Loans and Grants
Loans can cover large immediate expenses associated with adoption. The National Adoption Center provides adoption loans, and funds need-based grants for adoptive families. Some banks also offer adoption loans.
You may be able to get assistance with adoption-associated travel through a travel agency. Further, some airlines offer special fares for adoption-related travel.
The US military provides a reimbursement cost of up to $2,000 per child to most active duty personnel. The maximum annual reimbursement amount is $5,000 per family, even if both parents are in the military. This reimbursement is paid after the adoption is finalized.
If the adopted child has a disability, the family may also be eligible for up to $1,000 monthly under the military’s program for persons with disabilities. Also, the military’s Exceptional Family Program ensures that families of children with special needs are assigned to posts where the child’s needs can be met.
Recent federal legislation has increased tax credits and exclusions for adoptive families. The Hope for Children Act provides an adoption tax credit of $10,000 for all adoptions, and a tax exclusion of up to $10,000 for employer-provided adoption benefits.
A tax credit is an amount that is subtracted directly from your tax liability. This is more valuable than a tax write-off, which is subtracted from your taxable income.
Families may therefore be more able to front costs for attorney fees or court costs, as these expenses will later be offset by the tax credit. Tax credits can also be used to pay off loans.
Affordable Florida Family Lawyers
Not all lawyers are created equal – especially where costs are concerned. All of our experienced family attorneys have agreed to work for a reduced fee, which therefore lowers your cost burden.
Learn more about our services and how we can help you by getting in touch with one of our convenient local offices throughout Florida.