The Financial Crisis and Adoption Rates

Joe Veix

As more children are given up for adoption, will other parents be able to afford to adopt?

There’s another "in these trying times" story today, this time exploring how the financial crisis will affect adoptions. With job loss reaching record levels, including over 650,000 jobs eliminated in February alone, it’s worth wondering if people will be willing to spend the $20,000-plus to adopt a child through a private agency, or if they’ll instead adopt from a more affordable, state-run foster care system.

Then there is the obvious problem of being able to afford to care for a child after you adopt them. Wendy Bethancourt, a mother planning to adopt, says in the article:

"It’s like this domino effect. Once you bring home a baby, the expenses just start," Bethancourt said. "It’s not just paying for the next adoption. It’s paying for the next child’s college and medical expenses."

And Bethancourt’s just talking about the long-term. Let’s not forget about the cost of rasing a child, including food, diapers, strollers, and pediatricians. We have to expect that this would affect adoption. But how? Some agencies are "reporting an influx of birth mothers choosing to have their child adopted."

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There is the obvious problem with analyzing current adoption rates, as it’s still too early to find trends. The best we can do is make educated guesses.  The article does find, at least according to Mardie Caldwell at the Lifetime Adoption Facilitation Center, that since the stock market started to fall, "the number of birth mothers now planning to put their babies up for adoption…has tripled to 378." It’s a little depressing. Caldwell elaborates:

Some of the women already have two or three children and say they can’t afford to feed another mouth. Some are turning over newborn twins or even sibling groups.

The other big question is whether the number of parents who are planning to adopt will decrease. So far, there hasn’t been a decrease, though Lifetime has recently implemented payment plans. The article shows us a hopeful side, though, showing how parents are mustering up the funds to afford adopt:

On the Web, parents-to-be discuss holding bake sales and garage sales. Others solicit donations online to offset costs. Some are forced to look for alternatives, because their homes and 401(k)s, which are typically borrowed against to cover adoption fees, are in the tank.

Another website,, gives grants to families planning to adopt. We’ll see a trend soon enough. One has to hope that it won’t be bad news.

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