Why is adoption so expensive? Aren’t there lots of orphans in the world?
First of all, children are priceless, no matter where and under what circumstances they become part of a family. The adoption process, however, can be expensive because of the services provided to birth mothers (medical care, counseling, living expenses), in addition to the overhead of agencies who are providing services regardless of how many birth mothers are “placing” for adoption.
International adoptions can add to that cost because of travel, country processing fees, in-country waiting periods, and additional agency/orphanage expenses. International adoption has also become more expensive, with longer wait times, as some countries have restricted inter-country adoption outright, or made it more difficult because of preferences/requirements for intra-country adoption for orphaned children, or adoption within their home countries.
But, let’s be honest — talking about money and the cost of children, especially babies — makes us really uncomfortable. And it should — we are talking about human beings. Perhaps the costs of adoption seem staggering to many because some of the underlying assumptions are misguided– e.g. that deciding that a child is available for adoption is a straightforward, simple, cheap or easy process. The truth is far from it. The procedural safeguards in place for someone to raise another’s child are extensive and every step needs to be as thorough as possible.
Perhaps the costs of adoption seem staggering to many because some of the underlying assumptions are misguided– e.g. that deciding that a child is available for adoption is a straightforward, simple, cheap or easy process. The truth is far from it.
Some of the high costs of adoption and long wait times are due to problems with “supply and demand.” The reality is that healthy infants are in demand for families looking to adopt and they are in short supply around the country and globe. Let’s remember that ideally — there would be no children available for adoption because they would all have their loving families to care for them. Baby selling, and anything approaching it, is universally illegal, so agencies (and prospective adoptive parents/PAPs) need to be careful they are providing “services” to birth mothers — not “paying them off” for placing a child, or lying to them to procure relinquishments. (this includes providing the incentives for other people, agencies, any “finders” to do this lying and manipulating for you). This means counseling, medical care, advertising, and other services may be offered and provided for many birth mothers who decide to parent. And that’s wonderful! But it also means some parents find themselves waiting, and waiting, while paying for processes, paperwork, and services that may or may not end with the successful placement of a child with their family.
Let’s remember that ideally — there would be no children available for adoption because they would all have their loving families to care for them.
Adoption is the heartwarming solution for a child who needs a family — not for organizations, however well-intentioned, to provide a child for a family.
As for the orphan crisis – the numbers used to rally funds for AIDS and malaria assistance need to be carefully examined. Yes, there are many orphans in the world, but probably less than your think. While UNICEF uses the figure 132 million children orphaned, their definition includes children who have only lost one parent. (see paper from Schuster Institute). A more extensive study of children and their care arrangements after parental loss shows that there around 13 million children who have lost both parents. Evidence also shows that the vast majority of these double orphans or “true” orphans are living with a surviving parent grandparent, or other family member and 95 percent all orphans are over the age of five. While 13 million children is no small number, the realities of informal kinship and the priority of family preservation need to be considered alongside “Orphan Crisis” pleas.