There are some adoptions that are state sponsored and generally speaking these kinds of adoptions do not cost adoptive parents anything. However, this is not because there are no costs in the process. In reality, there is no such thing as a free adoption. Someone is always paying for services. The question is, who?
Who pays for state sponsored adoptions?
State sponsored adoptions are very different from the kinds of adoptions provided by private organizations like Adoption Center of Illinois (ACI). State sponsored adoptions involve children who are available for adoption because the rights of their legal or genetic parents, in almost all circumstances, have been involuntarily terminated through a legal process. This means that regardless of the child’s age, and whether or not they have siblings or interested relatives, the court system has decided that it would be in the child’s best interest if they were placed for adoption with non-related individuals.
Although state sponsored adoptions may involve out-of-pocket costs for the adoptive parents, ultimately these are reimbursed by the state or through the adoption tax credit. All other costs and expenses (legal fees, cost of foster care, clothing and food, salaries for DCFS and court staff, mileage and sundry expenses, etc.) are ultimately paid for by citizens of the state through their tax dollars.
If one were to add up all these costs they would find that state sponsored adoptions are, in fact, very expensive. Frequently individuals who adopt through the state system receive what are described as subsidies to assist the adoptive parents with attending to their children’s needs. Many, if not most or all, of the children adopted in this manner are considered to have some degree of complex medical/social needs.
How expensive are private adoptions?
Most other adoptions, like those through private attorneys or through licensed child welfare agencies, require that adoptive parents pay fees and expenses. An informal survey of adoption agencies in Illinois shows that the range in fees for a completed adoption varies between approximately $15,000 and $35,000.
The variability in cost depends on the kind of adoption that takes place, the agency’s or attorney’s stated fees, legal cost, the cost associated with marketing, birth parent expenses and whether or not the agency offers any kind of fee modification based on the financial situation of the potential adoptive parents.
How do charitable agencies charge?
All Illinois licensed child welfare agencies practicing in the field of adoption are required by the state of Illinois to be 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. What this designation means is that the organization is governed by a volunteer board of directors who receive no compensation for their services, and that regardless of what fees are charged:
- The organization is dedicated to activities that are charitable in nature.
- None of the agency’s staff is being inordinately compensated for their work.
- Donations to the organization are tax deductible
- The organization’s finances are transparent and available for public review through their submission of an annual independent audit and an AG990 financial statement form.
Unfortunately most people don’t understand what being a true 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization means. It doesn’t mean that no one gets paid a salary, or that there are no bills to pay, or that there are no expenses. What it means is that the organization is focused on meeting goals and objectives that are recognized as being charitable in nature. Organizations in this situation, in addition to earning revenue from providing services related to its mission, also rely on the generosity and support of its community of families and friends.