Adopting as a single parent: Can you afford it?

Consider these tips to help you make parenthood via adoption possible.

If you’re single but want to know the joys of raising a child, you may have decided that adoption is right for you. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the challenges that lie ahead. Will you be able to adopt without a partner? Will adoption agencies work with you? And can you even afford to adopt?

The good news is that single person adoption is possible in most states and on the rise in general.1 It comes with unique challenges, like having to navigate the process on your own and wondering if you can afford it. But, understanding the costs of adoption—and creating a savings plan—can help you be one step closer to realizing your dream.

Adopting as a single parent

While some still consider single parent adoption2 unconventional, many have successfully navigated the process on their own. Consider reaching out to single parents who have already adopted to get practical advice, guidance, support and an intimate understanding of the process—both logistical and emotional.

Single parents who adopted may help you better understand the different adoption paths, so that you can figure out which is best for you—and get a head start on planning and saving:

  • Agency adoption

    The average cost of adopting through an agency is around $40,000.3 An adoption agency can help you identify and select a birth mother in the U.S. They manage the entire process, plus they offer extra support services such as counseling for both the adoptive parent and the birth parent. Many agencies offer valuable training so you feel ready to tackle your new parenting role.

  • Independent adoption

    Independent adoption may save you about $5,000 compared to the cost of agency adoption.3 This path lets you identify a prospective birth mother on your own. You can then work with an adoption attorney to make it legal. Expect to take on more of the responsibility (and control of the process) in exchange for the lower adoption costs.

  • International adoption

    International adoption costs range from $36,000 to $46,000.3 To adopt from another country, you’ll need to work with an agency or attorney. There are some extra steps and expenses, such as traveling overseas to bring your new family member home. Though the travel is an added expense, it comes with the benefit of visiting your child’s birth country: You can better understand your child’s heritage and culture, which could help you connect and bond with your new child.

  • Foster adoption

    Adopting from the foster care system is generally the least expensive path to adoption, though costs vary by state.3 Foster adoptions often involve longer wait times, since the birth parents have to relinquish parental rights so that you can proceed with the legal process. But it also comes with the satisfaction of providing a permanent home to a child who may not otherwise have one.

How to pay for adoption costs

When you’ve got a good feel for which adoption route will be best for you, you can begin to tackle how to pay for it.

Tap into these resources to help make adoption possible for you:

  • A savings account gives you a dedicated place to store money until you need it.

  • A federal adoption tax credit4 is a refund of the federal income taxes you have paid. In 2016, the total credit available was $13,460 per child.5 (Heads up: If you earn more than $200,000, the credits will begin to phase out).

  • Grants and loans are available for single parents. Both National Council for Adoption6 and American Adoptions offer resources for financing your adoption. A home equity loan may also be an option.

  • Adoption benefits, like financial assistance or paid or unpaid leave, may be available from your employer. Nearly 50% of U.S. employers now offer some adoption benefits.7

Adopting as a single parent may be a journey like no other you’ve experienced. Yes, there will be ups and downs along the way and challenges to overcome.

But, planning ahead and saving for adoption costs can help you fulfill your dream: Bringing your child home.

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