Adoption may be your second choice, but it is not second best. Adopting is a beautiful way to grow your family, and unlike infertility treatments, having a baby is almost guaranteed to happen. However, you must carefully consider your options to determine the route that is best for your family. Following is an introduction to the different types of adoption to consider as you begin to research this exciting process.
A private or identified adoption is when the adoptive parents network on their own to find a birth mother. The advantage to private adoption is that often many thousands of dollars are saved by not using an agency, but it also has some challenges. The greatest challenge in Georgia is very strict laws about advertising to find a birth mother. Couples are limited to only writing letters about the desire to adopt to individuals they already know, while some other states allow couples to post flyers and even advertise in the classifieds. Private adoption is still a legitimate option for many couples, but it is best to first consult with an adoption attorney to understand the law and discuss your options. A private adoption can often be completed for as little as $5,000 – $10,000.
Georgia adoptive parents may work with an in state agency, or an agency located in another state. Agencies locate birth mothers, and they also provide counseling and other services to assist birth mothers during and even after the pregnancy. Some agencies have a sliding scale of fees based on the income of the adoptive parents, and there are agencies who will ask the adoptive parents to pay certain expenses for the birth mother in addition to agency fees – such as transportation, clothing, rent, and/or medical expenses. A few agencies have one flat fee, and adoptive parents will never be asked to pay birth mother expenses. It is important to be thorough in your research about each agency to understand the fee structure, what services the fees include, and the agency’s policies. A typical wait time with an agency is 12 to 18 months, and cost can range from $18,000 (less for adopting an African American child through certain agencies) to $35,000+ (average is $25,000).
Adoption consultants (not to be confused with facilitators, which are illegal in Georgia) provide valuable education, advice and guidance about the adoption process, including recommending a number of domestic adoption professionals to work with given your personal needs and desires. Consultants also have connections with adoption agencies and attorneys all over the country, and frequently hear of adoption situations for their clients to consider. Using an adoption consultant can lead to quick placements, often in just 3 – 6 months, but is also typically an expensive option. While the consultant herself is not expensive, the situations most likely require out of state travel and often birthmother expenses, creating an overall cost that is often higher than using a local agency. A typical range of cost for an adoption with a consultant is $25,000 to $40,000+, including travel expenses.
Often couples who choose international adoption do so because they feel drawn to adopting from a certain culture or nationality. Others choose this option because there is virtually no legal risk, with the children available for adoption already living in orphanages and no chance of a parent changing their minds about the adoption. However, there are also disadvantages. Newborns are not available through international adoption, and some countries have strict requirements of adoptive parents regarding issues such as weight, age, history of depression, and past divorces that may make it difficult for some couples to qualify. Additionally, international travel makes this an expensive option. A great place to start research about international adoption is to request information from a reputable international adoption agency, such as Gladney Center for Adoption. Fees are similar to that of a domestic agency adoption, but the cost of international travel (with some countries requiring two trips, and up to a one month stay) must be added to the total adoption budget.
Foster to Adopt
Fostering to adopt is a very affordable option for growing your family. However, it also has the most legal risk, as the goal of DFCS when removing a child from the home is almost always reunifying the child with the parents. Foster parents must be prepared to say goodbye to a number of foster children before a child becomes available for adoption. The majority of children available are older (infants are not frequently available to adopt), African American, part of a sibling group that needs to be adopted together, or have special health or behavioral needs. If you are interested in fostering to adopt, contact the Georgia Department of Human Resources to inquire about attending an orientation session. An adoption through foster care can cost as little as a $2,000 fee to an attorney to finalize the adoption.
If you desire to do further research on these options, a valuable source of information is the book Adoption for Dummies by Tracy Barr and Katrina Karlisle. Additional information about adoption can also be obtained through a consultation with Jeanette L. Soltys of The Soltys Law Firm, LLC.
Atlanta Divorce Law Group