Adoption is a gesture that comes straight from the heart, an act of immeasurable kindness and love. But while the emotions and bonds that adoption conjures are priceless, the process itself is not. In fact, it can be quite expensive. Which is why adoptive parents need a practical plan for handling the expense of adoption, one that takes into account every stage of this potentially lengthy and costly — but hugely rewarding — process.

Here are suggestions and insights from advisers who have first-hand experience planning for the adoption process, both for clients and for themselves.

  • Once you’ve resolved to adopt, devise a projected adoption expense budget, taking into account legal costs (you need an attorney so the adoption is legally airtight), agency costs, travel, housing and food costs (for adoptions that require travel out of town or out of the country). Also factor in any lost income due to time away from work, attending to adoption matters. The numbers can add up quickly, especially if it’s an international adoption, says FPA member Jeffrey A. Carbone, CFP®, and himself an adoptive parent. “First you have to be certain you have the proceeds available to make it happen. I always tell people to expect it will cost $25,000 to $30,000 or more.”
  • Start putting money aside to cover adoption expenses. Carbone recommends establishing a dedicated account or accounts to house funds earmarked for covering adoption expenses, separate from your day-to-day accounts. He favors conservative, liquid types of accounts for that purpose, including interest-bearing savings accounts, CDs and short-term Treasury bill and/or short-term bond investments. Consult a financial planner for help evaluating those options.
  • Pick the brains of parents who’ve gone through the adoption process. Their unique insights and info can be invaluable in the planning process.
  • Adjust your household budget to accommodate a new member of the family. From medical expenses to baby gear (if adopting an infant), your expenses are bound to increase post-adoption. Of course, it’s worth every penny! 

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