Article adapted from this
U.S. News and World Report article by Susan Johnston
Domestic and international adoption can cost
thousands of dollars, but grants, tax credits and fundraising can offset costs.
If they take advantage all the financial resources
available, moderate-income families can adopt a child debt-free.
Each year, U.S. citizens adopt over
100,000 children, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway. Costs
can range from very little for adopting a child from foster care to $40,000 or more for a private domestic
adoption, says Nicole Witt, executive director of The Adoption Consultancy in
Here’s a comprehensive look at
strategies that adoptive families use to cover costs.
Adoption tax credit: For 2014, the IRS gives adoptive parents a maximum adoption
tax credit (to offset qualified adoption
expenses such as legal fees and travel costs) of $13,190 per child, which
phases out for modified adjusted gross incomes between $197,880 and $237,880.
“If you adopt twins, then you can claim double the tax credit,” Witt says. “Or
even if you have a [domestic adoption] situation that falls through, you can
claim it towards the expenses that you've lost.” The credit cannot exceed your
tax liability, but you can carry any excess credits into the following year.
Consult your tax preparer if you're unsure of how this applies to you.
Adoption grants: Jeremy Resmer and his wife raised over $47,000 so they can
adopt twin girls from Congo debt-free and about two-thirds of that money came
from grants. (The Congolese government has put all adoptions on hold, so
Resmer, his wife and their 3-year-old son are currently living in the Congo bonding
with the girls and waiting for the adoption to finalize.) The pair did
exhaustive research on adoption grants, and Resmer wrote and published an
e-book called “Fund Your Adoption: A Step-By-Step Guide To Adopt Debt-Free.”
“We had to look in a million different places to find all the grants,” he says.
“Sometimes income eligibility requirements will come in. Some organizations
will only provide grants for domestic adoptions.” Because the application
process can be time-intensive (collecting letters of recommendation, for
instance), the couple applied for 10 grants that they felt they most closely
fit the award criteria, and also looked at grants with the highest award
ranges. They were awarded six of them.
Not everyone will qualify for grants
because some are income-based. However, a growing number of employers now offer
adoption assistance. In fact, a 2012 Aon Hewitt survey of 1,000 major U.S.
employers found that over half offered this benefit, compared to 12 percent in
1990. Fingerman says these benefits can range between $2,000 and $10,000
depending on the employer.
Loans: Sometimes people take a short-term
loan to cover adoption costs and use
their tax return (with the adoption tax credit) to repay the loan. “There are
adoption loans out there, but I always tell my clients just because a loan has
the word ‘adoption’ in front of it doesn’t mean it has most favorable terms,”
Witt says. “Explore a general loan, home equity loan and see what the best
terms are.” Not everyone has home equity they can borrow from, but Witt says
having a line of credit ready to cover adoption expenses can be smart (so long
as you're realistic about what you can afford). “You don't know exactly how
much you're going to need and when you're going to need it,” she explains.
Some people also get a gift or
interest-free loan from parents who want to be grandparents. “People sometimes
have to travel to other parts of the country where the birth mother lives, so
families have given them frequent flier miles or points to the Marriott,”
Fundraising: Many people saving up for adoption take
on a second job or plan fundraising events – Resmer
did both. Friends, family and members of a religious community have long been a
source of financial help for adoptive families, but online crowdfunding for
adoption costs puts a 21st century twist on this tradition, which Witt says can
be controversial. "On the one hand, it can be great because people love to
help," she says. On the other hand, some parents worry contributors could
"say something inappropriate in front of the child about how they helped
pay for them," she says.
Witt has seen other families sell
adoption T-shirts to friends and family members or temporarily rent
out the room intended as a nursery for extra
cash. Resmer's family raised several thousand dollars through an adoption
carnival hosted by a local church. "They had dunk tanks, carnival rides,
all sorts of food and a bake sale," he says. They also solicited donations
from local businesses and held a silent auction at the carnival.
By tapping into all available
resources, even moderate-income families have been able to make adoption a
reality. "Most people who adopt don't have $40,000 sitting in their bank
account," Witt says. "Most people I work with are typically
middle-income families, and they find ways to make it happen."
Looking into adoption but need assistance with financing or
any other aspect? We’re here to help! Feel free to reach out to us here at the
Orphan Care Initiative at 949-609-8555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another great resource is our monthly information seminar
“Thinking About Adoption or Foster Care.” Come get your questions answered by
families in our church who have already walked this road. The next Thinking
About Adoption or Foster Care will be Wednesday night, February 4th,
from 6:30 to 8:30pm in the MO2 gathering room of the Lake Forest Saddleback
Are you an adoptive or foster family looking
for parenting insight? Join us for a special two-day event designed to offer tools and
help specifically for you!
The Empowered to Connect Conference on Febraury
13 & 14 at Calvery Chapel Costa Mesa is designed for foster and adoptive
families, ministry leaders and professionals who want to deepen their
understanding of how to connect with at-risk youth and children from hard
Using trust-based parenting and proven
techniques developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis, the conference will equip, empower
and encourage you with tips, tools, and knowledge.
Early bird registration ends Friday – so sign
up soon at
And be sure to use code FOCUSGUEST for 50% off!
Humans are built with a natural
longing for interaction. A couple shares about their individual days at work, a
teenage girl cries about a breakup as her friend comforts her, and a group of
men share about their recent shots in a golf game. In the same way, children
are in dire need of response from the moment they are born. But what happens
when this need is not met? What occurs in the brain when expression is met with
empty stares and immobile response? Although it is easy to overlook the problem
of neglect, it is important to be aware of the gravity of children who are not
receiving sufficient attention, because the foundation of healthy societies is
built upon the proper development of interaction between children and
recent research from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, psychologists study the cause and effects of this issue.
The problem of severe neglect is
associated with abnormalities in the structure and functioning of the
developing brain. This can start as early as infancy. During the first stages
of childhood, there is a refining of the brain’s neural circuits that are being
formed. While in this stage of life, the process of “serve and return” is
essential. This is the concept that children naturally interact through facial
expressions, cooing, and gestures, then the caretaker responds with similar
expressions and gestures. If a caretaker fails to respond, the formation of the
child’s brain may be interrupted, which can cause future damage in learning,
conduct, and health.
Even more disheartening is the
growing population of children inhabiting institutional settings. These often crowded
children’s homes foster a sort of “assembly-line” system of caretaking.
Children are looked after by shifts of caregivers, never being able to
establish reliable connections, and only participating in minimal serve and
return interaction. Even though they may be receiving sufficient basic living
needs (such as food, shelter, and health care), they are robbed of the basic
psychosocial communication that encourages healthy brain stimulation.
In tests of electrical activity in
the brain, children from institutional homes, along with those with histories
of neglect, show a lack of ability to react properly to stimulation, such as
recognizing different facial emotions. Not only is the area of the brain that
identifies emotion stunted, but the prefrontal cortex, which regulates roles
such as planning, observation, problem solving, and behavior, has been noted to
function on a lower level than those without a history of neglect.
Furthermore, the systems in a
person that assist in handling stress and anxiety may be severely damaged as
well. For example, in a typical healthy child, the stress hormone, cortisol,
shows high levels of activation in the morning, acting as a boost for the body
to function during the day. As night approaches, it gradually decreases. But in
neglected or institutionalized children, this hormone displays low levels in
the morning and continues a flat pattern throughout the day. In the long run,
this lack of cortisol regulation has been seen to permanently damage the
construction of the brain, causing hearth rhythm inconsistencies, depression,
So how can this problem be
alleviated? Ultimately, a nurturing family system where relational connection
can happen is imperative. Every child’s recovery depends upon the severity of
the negligence and timing of rescue. The immediate shift of moving a child from
a negligent home to an encouraging one is important, but the process of healing
requires long-term and consistent relational support. Even after being removed
from an unhealthy situation, a child is still prone to lack of recovery if they
are not surrounded by relationships where they can build attachment.
The Orphan Care Initiative seeks to
help every child remain in family, reunite with family or regain a family of
their own, by equipping the local church to act as a key support. In Rwanda, we
are mobilizing churches to get children out of orphanages and into families, as
the country works towards the goal of zero children living in orphanages.
Read some of the incredible stories
children in Rwanda are leaving the orphanages for families of their own. Learn how you can sponsor a family in Rwanda to have the extra boost
needed to adopt a child out of the orphanage
Ten years ago in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city, an
unspeakable tragedy left a young unmarried girl, Joselyn, pregnant with a baby
boy. She felt ashamed and broken.
Shortly after she gave birth, Joselyn’s aunt took the newborn
and sent him to an orphanage hidden in the mountains miles from Joselyn’s home.
Her aunt told Joselyn if she tried to find her son she would be arrested for
Last month, diligent orphan care volunteers from local
churches near the orphanage began to unravel now ten-year-old Eric’s history.
The story slowly unfolded. They found out this child living without hope of a
family actually had a mother. When Joselyn learned that her Eric was
waiting—parentless—she found new hope that she could reunite with her son once
The orphan care volunteers talked Joselyn through the
potential challenges of raising her son. Undeterred, she made the bold decision
to bring him home. In the course of their conversations and parenting training,
the volunteers asked Joselyn if she knew about Jesus, how He cared for her, how
He had come to redeem her pain and make her whole. Joselyn accepted Christ that
day in her home. She realized that her current accommodations—a small house
doubling as the community bar—was no place for a child, and she chose to move
down the street to a humble mud home, one with an extra room for Eric.
Local church members paid Joselyn’s way to make the grueling
six-hour bus ride to the orphanage where she and Eric were finally reunited.
Tears rolled down their faces as they embraced each other at last. As Joselyn
dried her son’s eyes using her traditional Rwandan skirt she spoke to him with
the soothing, tender words Eric had waited so long to hear, “ I love you. I
can’t wait to care for you. I can’t wait to hold you.”
Mother and son are now back home in Kigali, adjusting to
their new lives as a family. Through the generosity of sponsorship donors,
Joselyn has the means to provide a better home and a smooth transition for her
son. Eric will receive love from his own mother who can now provide medical
insurance, school fees and the home he never knew. He will hear and experience the love of Jesus
in the arms of his mother, with a family of his own.
This month, members of the local Rwandan church have decided
to take a local PEACE trip to fix up Joselyn’s home, making it more suitable
for their little family. They plan to paint the walls and add windows to the
small rooms. Through the love, care and provision of Saddleback sponsors and
members of the local church in Rwanda, Joselyn’s painful experiences have been
redeemed through their miraculous reunion, and a little boy’s future is forever
You can help children leave the orphanage! If you are interested in helping families like Joselyn and Eric reunite, visit saddleback.com/sponsorship for more information.
Laurence is a 17-year-old girl living with HIV in Rwanda.
Lawrence’s parents died when she was just two years old, and she was sent to
live in the orphanage. For fifteen lonely years, Laurence didn’t have access to
the care she needed, and at times the painful skin condition she developed from
her disease kept her out of school and isolated from other children in the
Laurence lived depressed and without hope. Because of her
age and her HIV status, the orphanage claimed she was unadoptable—that no one
would want her. Laurence couldn’t see an end to her loneliness.
However, that is not how Laurence’s story ends. Five
hours away from the orphanage, a woman named Kabibi also lives with HIV. Kabibi
lost two children in the genocide, and though she heard God whisper that she
would one day have a family again, but without a husband she couldn’t see how
that was possible. She asked God, “Will you make me laugh like Sarah?”
Through the Global HIV&AIDS Initiative and the Rwanda
Orphan Care Initiative, Kabibi learned about Laurence, one of the last children
left in the orphanage, and her heart broke. Kabibi knew God had redeemed her
pain so she could redeem others, and she decided, no matter the opposition, she
could be a mother to Laurence.
As they met for the first time, Kabibi embraced her new
daughter. Tears streamed down both their faces as Kabibi told Laurence, “I’m
going to be your mother.”
Laurence saw that after years of living without a family,
she could finally have a home with a mother who loved her deeply. She decided
to go with Kabibi.
With the help of the local church and Saddleback
sponsorship, Kabibi has been able to
adopt Laurence. Just a few days ago, Kibibi went to the orphanage to get
Laurence. At last, Laurence left the orphanage and came home to a family of her
own – to a mom who will love her and make sure she gets the HIV care she needs.
Half of the children who lived in orphanages in Rwanda
when we began two years ago now have a family of their own. Together as a
church, we can reach the goal of zero children living in orphanages in Rwanda.
Did you know you can sponsor a Rwandan family who is
willing to adopt a child like Laurence?
For just $38 a month you can bring a
child out of an orphanage. Please visit www.saddleback.com/sponsorship
for more information.