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November is National Adoption Month: For those considering adoption, help may be available

iStock_000022194839XSmallWhat do actress Melissa Gilbert of Little House on the Prairie fame and Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas have in common?  They were both adopted.    So was figure skater Scott Hamilton, as well as Apple founder Steve Jobs.   You probably know someone who was adopted, even if you aren’t aware of it.

You may also not be aware that November is National Adoption Month.  It started in 1976 as Adoption Week, established by the  Massachusetts governor as a way to highlight the need for adoptive families for children in foster care.   In 1984, the first National Adoption Week was declared, and in 1995, November was declared National Adoption Month.

Adoption provides a stable and loving home to a child without one.  Adoption adds a special new member to a family ready to love.  Adoption brings together people who want to have children with children who desperately need parents.  But there are significant obstacles to adoption, many of them financial.

The costs of adoption vary, depending on the type you seek.  International adoptions come with very high administrative fees and travel expenses.  Traditional adoptions can also be very expensive, to cover the cost of parent evaluations, home visits and legal fees.  A less expensive route to adoption is through the foster care system, which not only provides foster parents with a monthly stipend while the children are being fostered, but also waives all fees associated with adopting those children.

So how do prospective parents overcome the financial hurdles to adoption?  There are numerous ways it can be done.  Many turn to family for assistance.  Others hold fundraisers like raffles or dinners to help offset the cost.  Some adoption resource agencies, such as The National Adoption Foundation, offer  grants and loans, as well as assisting families in setting up online fundraising campaigns with sites like  Kickstarter,

Employers can help as well.  At Susquehanna, one of the benefits offered to employees is a $5,000 adoption subsidy that can be used twice in the employee’s lifetime to cover costs of adoption.  Employee assistance programs, like the one Susquehanna and many other local workplaces provide, also offer guidance and resources to families navigating the adoption landscape.

I asked my fellow employees to share their adoption experiences, and I got some wonderful stories.  One family looked into traditional infant adoption and quickly determined  the costs were out of their range.  Undeterred, they turned to the foster-to-adopt program in Pennsylvania, and fostered several children temporarily.  This summer they celebrated the adoption of their little boy, after fostering him for almost a year.

Another co-worker, Lori, who spent more than  $10,000 on what turned out to be a fruitless effort at an international adoption, told me a wonderful story about helping another family hoping to adopt.  As a lender, she met a family who’d spent many thousands of dollars to adopt a child from Korea.  She asked if they would do it again, and they admitted they wanted to, but simply couldn’t afford it.  Lori didn’t stop with that, though, and crunched the numbers on their mortgage, and called them to offer a refinance that would give them the cash they needed for another adoption.  As she told me, “it was the best day when they brought that little girl into the bank.”

Adoption elicits strong feelings in many people.  Take a spin through the website www.adoptpakids.org, and you’ll see many smiling faces of children who need a stable home and a family to love and support them.  If you’ve considered adoption but shied away because of the cost, consider the resources available to you that may bring that dream into your reach, and a child into your family.

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Posted in Financial Education, In the Community.

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