Hoping to adopt but the costs seem too high? A free adoption can happen. There are multiple ways to reduce and make up for costs in adoption.

Free Adoption

Is it possible to adopt for free?

We all think that adoption is an incredibly expensive process, costing tens of thousands of dollars. This can be true. Private domestic and international adoption can be a major financial burden. Families can be overwhelmed with the information they see regarding adoption costs and give up before they even really begin.

What if you can’t afford to pay thousands of dollars to an agency or an attorney to help you adopt? You dream of parenting but financially cannot fathom the journey to becoming parents.

It is possible to adopt for free or for very minimal expenses. For many, the idea of free adoption hasn’t even crossed their minds as we have been conditioned to associate high cost with adopting. However, there are some ways to lessen or eliminate the financial burden we expect and make the journey to adoption affordable for any family.

The most affordable way to adopt a child is by adopting from the foster care system. Adopting this way may result in a free adoption or an adoption with minimal expense. There are many children in foster care waiting for a family to call their own. Thousands of children are legally free for adoption RIGHT NOW hoping to find their family. Most children legally free and waiting are older children, ages 3-18. If you are open to older child adoption, please contact your local foster care coordinator, and find out what steps you need to take to begin the process.

In most areas, the licensing process for foster care is free, as are the educational classes needed. You do need to complete requirements in order to be licensed and take placement of any children. When applying for licensing, it would be important to note that you are a hopeful adoptive resource. Knowing this information will help you get the placement of children who are either legally free for adoption, or those who are considered “legal risk” cases. A legal risk case is a child that is still working on a reunification plan with their biological parents, but that has likely been in foster care for an extended period of time and also has a concurrent goal for adoption in place. Putting your interest in adoption on your profile will also help you to be considered for infant placements that may result in adoption.

Our family was able to adopt an infant placement as well as an older child placement. Foster care adoption can be a long wait to finalization with no guarantees that the child will stay with you until finalization occurs. It can be a slow, stressful, and uncertain journey. However, the end result of adding a child to your family is worth the commitment and time.

There may be some initial costs in a foster care adoption. Typically, the most expensive part is the adoption home study. A home study can cost up to $2,000 in some areas. On a positive note, many places will discount or offer reimbursements for foster care adoption home studies. There may also be fees for some of the educational classes required to become a potential adoptive home. Again, these fees may be reimbursed. If the option for reimbursement is not available, then take comfort that these costs will be minimal.

In many cases, an attorney will need to be hired to help with your adoption. I found, however, that in our area this was not a requirement. We were able to fill out all of our paperwork, with help from our social worker, on our own. Be sure to check your local laws to see if you are able to file your petition to adopt without legal counsel. The process to file the petition was much less complicated than I would have anticipated, and I am glad we were able to do so without hiring an attorney.

Another important aspect of the possibility of free adoption is the adoption tax credit. Be sure that the person preparing your taxes is aware of the adoption tax credit and how it can be applied. This credit and how it can be applied can change year to year, so be sure that your preparer checks for updates on the tax credit. While this may not cover all costs, it can be a significant amount of money available to help with your adoption debts.

What if you don’t think foster care adoption is the right choice for you? What if you have an interest in adoption, but you are only interested in infant adoption? While infant adoption is possible in foster care, it is not as common as older child adoption. There is typically a long wait to the finalization of an infant adoption when going through the foster care system as most cases require lengthy attempts to reunify the infant with their biological families if at all possible. There are some cases that involve the voluntary termination of parental rights that may move more quickly. In cases of babies placed due to the safe haven laws, the biological family may be unknown, and the finalization of the adoption can be achieved in a shorter amount of time.

 Is it possible to find a way to have a free adoption in the private domestic or international adoption world?

It is possible to find free adoption options. However, to pursue free adoption when choosing private domestic or international adoption is not easy and will be a networking challenge.

Many people have begun fundraising to offset adoption costs. Of course, if you have good networking skills, maybe you could collect all the money needed for the adoption and be able to have a free adoption experience. While this would be a challenging thing to do, it is possible. With websites devoted to collecting donations for a good cause or issue, there are places to fundraise online that could result in complete strangers helping to fund your adoption journey. This type of crowdfunding is sometimes frowned upon by agencies, so if you are looking to have the help of an agency be sure they are comfortable with your fundraising plans. Free adoption can be possible, but it will take some time and effort. Crowdfunding online can be difficult, but it could result in many monetary donations to help offset adoption costs. If you aren’t good with social media then ask friends if they can help. Write a profile and share your story. Place your profile on adoption fundraising websites and other places that allow crowdfunding profiles and fundraisers. Be sure to check into the details of each website. Some websites offer services but require you to pay a percentage of your funds to them. It is beneficial to read the fine print of these sites to see what percentage they will receive from your fundraising efforts. Not all crowdfunding websites are the same and some take a higher percentage than others. When crowdfunding, be sure to know all the details and be comfortable with how that site works if you plan to post there.

If you are motivated to do local fundraising, oftentimes communities will rally behind you to help raise money for the costs of adoption. Maybe your church can do a brat fry or bake sale after a meeting and donate the money to your adoption fund? Or maybe they can take a special collection for you during the service? Or, if church isn’t your thing, maybe a local club or business could hold a fundraiser in your name? Could a local restaurant host a special evening meal with a portion of the proceeds going to your adoption? Or could the local ice cream shop sell a specific flavor that will benefit your adoption fund? Would the local school district allow you to sell baked goods outside a sporting event to help raise money?

Many fundraisers now include a 5k walk or run. Would you be able to set up a route in your area, and get people to sign up and pay to participate with the fee going toward your adoption costs? Maybe you can put out a jar at the local grocery store for donations?

Many people are now hosting craft parties for fundraisers. Could you do a wooden sign painting fundraiser or a canvas painting fundraiser? These fundraisers allow the participants to go home with their project while a portion of the fee is donated toward your costs. Would others in your neighborhood hold a yard sale to help benefit your adoption fund? Could you find businesses to donate products or services to put together baskets for a silent-auction-type raffle? When products are donated, there is no cost to you, and sometimes these types of silent auctions can bring in bids that are above the actual values of the baskets.

Find out what rules apply in your area for fundraising, and begin raising money with the help of your community. Even when the donation seems minimal being persistent and working hard can add up quickly. It is entirely possible to fund an adoption by hosting fundraisers. The time it takes to raise the amount needed will vary for everyone. While some may be able to raise the money quickly, others may take a few years to do so.

Have you explored your benefit package with your employer to see if they offer any financial assistance with adoption? Some employers have begun assisting in reimbursing some costs of growing your family through adoption. This is not available through all workplaces, unfortunately. While all employers may not have this written into their benefit plan, by taking the time to ask about this you may jumpstart a plan addition that your employer hadn’t considered that could benefit you and others in the future. Some benefits will also include help with legal fees! Take time to go over your full benefit package to see if you can find any financial assistance is given by your employer.

If you have area support groups, join. They may have ideas on how to help with the financial burden of adoption. Support groups are also good for finding others who are dealing with the same types of situations you are. Having others who understand your situation who can provide advice and help is essential during these trying times. Hearing the strategies of others and learning from their coping skills can ease the stress of your adoption journey. Sometimes, the emotional toll of adoption is as much of a burden as the potential financial toll. Emotional support throughout the journey can keep you feeling positive and moving forward. Finding an emotional support system is important for clarity in this process when looking at the daunting financial requirements. Finding a good support group, and being able to share ideas, stories, and advice can be a valuable way to spend your time.

Did you know there are many grants you can apply for that can help fund your adoption? With the cost of adoption, many families turn to grants to help. There are many places online you can apply for grants with a wide range of how much financial help they offer. Take some time to prepare an application form for any grants that may apply to your family. Read the specific qualifications for each grant to be sure you qualify. You can apply for as many grants as you like—provided you meet the criteria for them. Of course, applying isn’t a guarantee you will get the grant, so feel free to apply to several different places that are awarding grant money for adoption. If you receive one or more, you are closer to a free adoption.

While free adoption can be possible, unless you are motivated to adopt from foster care, it is still time-consuming to achieve. You will likely be responsible to pay some costs. Crowdfunding, fundraisers, and grants can be a huge help though, and they can really lessen the burden. If you are great at networking you may be able to raise all the money required to adopt. Anything is possible with hard work and determination!

Considering adoption? Let us help you on your journey to creating your forever family. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.

Jennifer Kaldwell

Jennifer is a mother to 3 children (one biological, two adopted). She is also a mom to numerous pets. She enjoys volunteering in her children's classroom, reading, and crafting in her spare time. She has been married for almost 15 years.