5 Ways to Afford Adoption

5 Ways to Afford Adoption - Costtoadopt.comI once heard of a wealthy businessman who would end every new suit purchase by asking a simple question of his sales associate, “Now…which complimentary tie will you be throwing in today with the purchase of my new suit?”


The sales associates would inevitably pause…open their mouths…and then close them…waffle…shift their weight…but without fail — they would direct him to a display case or cabinet where he could select his new “complimentary” tie.

Lesson to be learned? You’re never going to get a deal (or even something for free!) — if you don’t ask for it.

Or, in the wise words of Wayne Gretzky “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Adoption and money can be a tricky, in the least because there are no liquidation sales on babies and haggling for toddlers is frowned upon in most circles — but adoption costs money, sometimes a lot of money, and pretending the elephant/stork isn’t in the room doesn’t make him disappear.

Here are five big picture strategies to afford adoption. Many families end up using a combination of all of them to help pay for adoption costs.


First of all, check with your employer to see if your company offers any grant or subsidy for adoption. Many companies do (any may also offer some time off). The Dave Thomas Foundation compiled a 2014 list.

Adoption grants are the golden goose of adoption funding and are *free* money from charities, foundations, businesses, or non-profits — they do not require repayment. However, they usually require filling out a grant application and meeting certain criteria of the funding organization. Some people find grant writing to be a frustrating process as some found online are no longer active, or don’t have funds and available and most have extensive applications. Finding out on page four that the grants are for Texan vegans adopting from Greenland can be discouraging.

Some grant criteria include: state specific, certain religious denominations, first-time parents only, special needs adoptions, married couples, income caps, association with a licensed or non-profit agency, sibling groups, older/hard to place children or ethnic groups. Some grants are due on a quarterly basis, semi-annual or twice a year, annual or are accepting applications on an ongoing basis. Fees can range from none to $50 to submit an application.

Some resources for researching grants include a subscription grant database, and various lists compiled on adoption sites:


There are two types of loans: 1) an adoption specific loan from a bank or credit union that handles them or 2)a home equity line or other personal loan. The adoption specific loan, like those from America’s Christian Credit Union, may offer loans with a lower interest rate or payback period but may require certain adoption milestones, e.g. home study, already contracted with agency, or already matched with a child. The more traditional equity or vehicle loan will need to be secured by certain property, and may have a higher rate but with fewer, if any, adoption restrictions (would be a better fit at the beginning of the adoption process). Most loans can be used for travel for international adoptions.


There are hundreds of ideas for fundraising, some ranging from traditional charity events like silent auctions, pancake breakfasts, car washes, garage sales, bake sales to using social media to raise awareness through a gofundme  or YouCaring campaign. Some families will become a distributor or consultant for a product and put that money toward their adoption. Some companies let you partner with them to design your own adoption t-shirt or product and encourage family and friends to buy it and support your cause. Others might look to their neighborhood, community, or church group to help them raise money. Some lists to get started:

Tax Credit

2014_federal_tax_credit_graphicFor adoptions finalized in 2014, there is a federal adoption tax credit of up to $13,190 per child. The 2014 adoption tax credit is NOT a refundable credit, so you only get the credit if you have federal income tax liability for that year. However, you can “carry” the credit for 5 years, so if you finalize in 2015 you have up until 2020 to use up your credit.

The credit is paid one time for each adopted child, and should be claimed when taxpayers file taxes for 2014 (typically in early 2015).

To be eligible for the credit, parents must:

  • Have adopted a child other than a stepchild — A child must be either under 18 or be physically or mentally unable to take care of him or herself.
  • Be within the income limits — How much of the credit parents claim is affected by income. In 2014, families with a modified adjusted gross income below $197,880 can claim full credit. Those with incomes above $237,880 cannot claim the credit; those with incomes from $197,880 to $237,880 can claim partial credit.

For more information, read the IRS guidelines.

Adoption Subsidies

Almost every state has some subsidy available for families who adopt hard-to-place children like those with special needs, in siblings groups, or in certain ethnic groups. These subsidies can make it possible for children to find their forever families. Some estimate that nearly 115,000 children are available to be adopted from foster care.


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