How to Budget for Domestic Infant Adoption

Learning how to budget for domestic infant adoption allows you to save up the full amount in less than two years without taking major financial risks or fundraising aggressively.

How to Budget for Domestic Infant Adoption

I don’t need to spend a lot of time explaining that domestic infant adoption is expensive. Depending on the agency or attorney that you work with and the circumstances of the adoption, the expenses will be between $30,000 and $60,000. For an out-of-state adoption, that figure doesn’t include travel costs. For most couples pursuing adoption, the expenses are significant and require a lot of disciplined saving.

Learning how to budget for domestic adoption will allow you to save for it within a two-year time frame without doing extensive fundraising or taking drastic financial steps, such as applying for a second mortgage on your house.

Get an accurate estimate for your adoption expenses from your adoption agency or attorney

Every reputable adoption agency and attorney will provide an upfront expenses estimate so there are no surprises. If there is a chance for an out-of-state adoption, factor in travel expenses as well, including gas or plane tickets, lodging, and food.

Once you have your adoption expenses total, divide it by 12, 18, or 24 months

Now that you know how much you’ll need to save, create a time frame for reaching that savings goal. With a monthly savings target, it’s much easier to stay accountable and ensure that you’re contributing enough money to your savings account on a consistent basis.

I know that the monthly goal may still seem overwhelming. If you can’t imagine hitting it, start conservatively with a two-year time frame. Once you get going and start meeting that goal, you may feel comfortable increasing it slightly.

Open a savings account

I highly recommend opening a separate account for your adoption savings. With a dedicated account, you’re much less likely to spend that money. Having a separate account also makes it straightforward to see how much you’ve saved at any given time.

Determine if there’s a certain amount you can set aside from each paycheck right away

The easiest way to start saving for adoption is to take money right from your paycheck and deposit it in your new savings account. Plan to make a transfer the same day that you get your paycheck. The more money you’re able to set aside as soon as it comes into the bank, the less you’ll have to budget for elsewhere.

Evaluate your entertainment subscriptions and make a few cuts

Calculate how much you’re spending each month on cable/satellite, movie/TV/sports streaming services, recurring video game charges, and other entertainment expenses, such as trips to the movie theater. Be honest with yourself about which services you aren’t using frequently or could go without for a while. Once you’ve turned off a few services, start putting the money you’re saving into the adoption savings account each month.

Calculate your eating-out budget. Cut it in half, and put the half you’re not spending right into savings.

Cutting your eating-out budget in half gives you extra savings for adoption while still giving you a few chances for meals out each month. If you’re reluctant to decrease the number of meals you eat out, consider ways to adjust your routine, such as eating out for breakfast or lunch instead of dinner, which tends to be more expensive, or getting takeout and having soda or alcoholic drinks at home.

Create a dedicated spot for loose change

Collect all of your loose change for your adoption savings account. Make a dedicated spot for it in your house, and encourage all family members to use it. Once a month, take the change to the bank, grocery store, or other location that counts coins. Then deposit or transfer those funds to the adoption account.

A few other ways to cover/offset adoption expenses

Consider taking on a side hustle or second job

I don’t appreciate the constant push in our culture today to turn every passion or hobby into a side hustle. But there are definitely times when a short-term side hustle or second job can be well worth it, and saving for adoption is one of them. If possible, take on extra hours or shifts at your current job. Consider second job opportunities that are local or online with manageable or flexible shifts, such as teaching a few afternoon or evening classes. If you want to pursue side hustles, Mailerlite has a great round-up of the best side hustles to do from home to get you started.

Sell your stuff

Instead of donating items this year, sell them on Facebook Marketplace or local Facebook groups. If your neighborhood has an annual rummage sale, plan to participate in it. You’ll clean out lots of items in your home that you no longer need while earning some much-needed cash.

Look into adoption grants

You need an in-progress or completed, approved home study to apply for adoption grants. If you’ve been waiting to start the home study until you’ve figured out your finances, go ahead and start that process.

Lifesong has a great resource with the most popular adoption grants. The post breaks down everything you need to know about applying for them.

I also encourage you to look into local opportunities for grants and other financial assistance. Lots of couples apply for the same national adoption grants. You’ll have less competition with local organizations.

Look into employer contributions

Some employers offer direct contributions for employees or will provide reimbursement up to a certain amount following a successful adoption. It’s always worth asking if there are any adoption contribution or reimbursement opportunities with your employer(s).

Make sure to take advantage of tax benefits

There is a federal tax credit for adoption. Learn more about the federal tax credit on the IRS website. Many states have their own tax credits as well. I recommend hiring a reputable CPA for any tax year that includes an adoption and explaining your situation in full to ensure that your taxes are filed correctly and that you get the maximum benefit available.

Strategies to avoid

There are a few financial strategies that I strongly urge you to avoid as you determine how to budget for domestic infant adoption.

Borrowing against your assets

Above all else, please don’t take out a second mortgage on your house. A mortgage payment is a significant expense. Having a second mortgage payment is a long-term commitment that most people are not prepared to cover. Not making your mortgage payment puts you at risk of damaging your credit score and, in dire circumstances, losing your house.

Withdrawing money from your retirement account isn’t advisable, either. The withdrawal is subject to being included in your gross income plus an additional 10 percent tax penalty. [Source]

Taking part in pyramid or get-rich-quick schemes

True pyramid schemes are illegal and should be avoided at all costs. While network marketing or multilevel marketing (MLM) is not illegal, it’s important to understand the risks of it. Even when the company is legitimate, there is no guarantee that you’ll make money. Many people engaged in network marketing actually lose money. Additionally, numerous MLM products are not FDA-approved, which has the potential for all sorts of other liability.

Aggressive fundraising

I know that adoption fundraising is a touchy subject. Personally, I don’t think that it’s anyone else’s responsibility to fund your adoption. People don’t fundraise to cover birth/hospital expenses. There’s nothing wrong with family and friends helping you with adoption costs. But I urge you to limit your fundraising efforts and focus on providing the majority of the costs yourself. If you do plan a fundraiser, make it a one-time event. Don’t spend months hounding your friends and family.

Pin this post for easy access to the how to budget for domestic infant adoption resource later!

Simple Steps for Creating a Domestic Infant Adoption Budget

More adoption resources:

Visit the adoption section of the blog to learn more about our adoption story and access lots of additional adoption resources, including waiting to adopt and open adoption resources.


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