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Adoption Blog: Our Family Grows With Love

How Much Did It Cost for You to Get Your Son?



"How much did it cost for you to get your son?"

There it was again. Recently, my neighbor Sally asked me one of those questions that my husband and I are so often asked when people learn our son was adopted. I’m sure many adoptive parents can relate when I say one of those questions. We've all been asked those questions by our Great Aunt Millie, our son’s preschool teacher, a nosy neighbor, or a cubicle buddy at work. Insert the name or title of most anyone else you can think of here, and more than likely, this person has asked you a personal adoption-related question in the course of a seemingly normal, everyday conversation the moment they found out that your child is adopted. For me, asking about the cost of adoption is one of the most commonand troublingquestions I'm asked. (Look for others to appear in future blog entries.)

Don't get me wrong: I enjoy speaking about adoption and the life-changing impact it has had on me as both an adoptee and as an adoptive parent. I like to think that if someone's questions are being asked for reasons other than sheer nosiness or curiosity, so I am fairly open about my experiences. In fact, I could even be accused of oversharing. I’m certain I have caught a person or two off guard when they ask me what seemed to be a very basic adoption-related question. I often end up providing them with such a detailed response that at some point, they give me the deer-in-the-headlights, eyes-glossed-over, information-overload stare.

So why does it bother me so much when someone asks me one of these common adoption questions? When it comes to the question of money, costs, and finances, my discomfort stems from feeling that whoever is asking the question looks at my son and sees nothing but the cost associated with our adoption rather than the amazing child my son is. I want them to see the sweet little boy I put to bed every night who always asks me to send his daddy back so he can give him goodnight kisses too. I want to talk about the little boy who will share every one of his toys, even his beloved Mr. Froggie. I want to tell them about the little boy who, when asked what little boys should be, will tell you that they should be "kind." I want to focus on the little boy who loves fruit snacks as much as he loves broccoli and the little boy who has helped turn my husband and me from a couple into a family. He's the little boy who walks around with my heart in his beautiful, perfect little hand. Questions about the cost associated with his adoption make me feel as if the parent-child relationship shared between my son and me is being discredited in some waythat when someone looks at my son, they see a dollar sign instead of a child.

Obviously, there are costs associated with a private adoption. To be honest, for our family (like many other families), the cost of our son’s adoption was a financial hardship. But the payback is worth more. It comes in the form of sweet little boy smiles, endless giggles, and midday dance parties to a CD of silly kids’ songs. It comes in the form of bedtime stories and good-morning cuddles, building blocks, and blowing bubbles. It changes through the seasons of running through the sprinkler on a hot summer’s day, jumping in a huge pile of leaves in the fall, and building snowmen with the first significant winter snowfall. Our payback is falling in love all over again as my husband watches me become a mother and I watch my husband become a father.

When people ask me, "How much did it cost for you to get your son?" I want to tell them that they're asking the wrong question. Instead of asking about the cost of adopting a child, I wish strangers would ask me how much richer my life is since becoming my son's mother. Now when this question comes up I have developed a go-to response. I simply smile and say, "Max is priceless."

Answering Tough Adoption Questions

  • Where Is He from? Does He Speak Spanish? Surprising Adoption Questions
  • To Find the Birth Parents, or Not?
  • What Adopted Means
  • Are You Their “Real” Mom?
  • How Well Can You Prepare for an International Adoption?
  • Do You Love Her Like Your Own?
  • Is Saying "Brown" OK?

  • Top Adoption Myths—Debunked

  • Adopting Does Not Improve Fertility
  • Adoption Failures vs. Infertility: By the Numbers
  • Adoptive Children Aren’t the Only "Lucky" Ones
  • Do You Love Her Like Your Own?

  • Related Posts on AdoptiveFamiliesCircle

    17 Comments

    Normally, this isn’t a topic to which I would respond.  However, things have changed in the last year, and I’m going to take a different angle than you’re probably expecting.

    With the new tax refund, the average taxpayer could easily see the cost of adopting as very much their business.  The government is paying people to adopt.  I think you’re going to see questions about the cost increase.  I’m sure the tax refund is nice, but the person who didn’t adopt will have a different opinion.  In fact, it won’t set well with many who did adopt.  My adoptive dad read about that refund and flipped a lid. 

    The costs associated with adoption are pretty much a public matter at this point.  That’s just the way it is.

    By Jeanne on Friday, July 01, 2011 at 5:25 pm.

    Thank you for your feedback, Jeanne!

    By Maximilian's Mommy on Friday, July 01, 2011 at 5:42 pm.

    I know what you mean about those questions. It seems sometimes as if people feel free to ask questions that are personal and intrusive simply because a family was clearly created by adoption. I don’t know why that is. Like you, I have learned to give vague answers to questions I don’t want to answer. I love to talk adoption with potential adoptive parents and I have no problem answering questions when I feel they come from a place of sharing and not mere curiosity or nosiness.

    As far as the tax, while I understand what Jeanne is saying, I don’t go around asking people who have food stamps at the grocery store how much they make or don’t make, why do they not have a job that pays enough or why do they have so many children if they can’t afford them. Some questions are personal even if my taxes pay for their food. It’s just a matter of respect and compassion. I can look up the income required to receive food stamps and people can look up the average cost of an adoption. That information is public. Just don’t ask me how much I paid. That’s a bit rude, I think.

    By Gaby on Friday, July 01, 2011 at 5:48 pm.

    Gaby,

    I do see your point, and I’m not trying to give an opinion of what’s right or wrong.  Personally, I wouldn’t ask anyone (except my own father) how much their child cost.  If I wanted to know, I would call an agency.  But I don’t think it hurts to be aware that several articles have run boasting $50,000 or $60,000 refunds when people are finding themselves in need of food stamps.  As I said, I normally wouldn’t comment on this subject, but I do think it’s worth mentioning at this particular time.

    By Jeanne on Friday, July 01, 2011 at 9:06 pm.

    Let me qualify that statement since both of my fathers adopted.  I would only ask the father who adopted ME how much his child cost.  smile  I would not ask my natural father how much it cost him to adopt.  That would not be any of my business.

    By Jeanne on Friday, July 01, 2011 at 9:12 pm.

    Oh, I completely understand, Jeanne. I was commenting on the fact that often people feel entitled to ask questions and this whole tax thing seems to give another opening. I would like to know how people are getting such huge refunds! Gee! smile

    The tax thing is actually supposed to expire this year and there has been not talk of renewal, so we may see this come to an end. It has been a life-saver for average joes like us that could not have afforded to adopt our two kiddos without some help.

    Thank you for replying. I knew what you were saying. I was giving a different side of the same issue smile

    By Gaby on Friday, July 01, 2011 at 9:14 pm.

    Jeanne and Gaby,

    Thank you both for your feedback.

    Jeanne, I do understand what you are saying as well. I do get questions about the tax credit as well. Like Gaby I would like to know how people are getting such huge refunds, LOL! But yes, I do agree that has increased the questions surronding the financial side of adoption.

    Gaby, Yes, the vague answers seem to work best for me too. I TRULY enjoy speaking about adoption so long as I feel the information is being requested for reasons other than just being nosey. Sometimes it is hard to tell, but I try my best to be an adoption advocate in all related conversations!

    By Maximilian's Mommy on Sunday, July 03, 2011 at 2:27 pm.

    I answer simply “There are many fees with the government agencies and that our adoprion agency based their fees on salary. And how much was your salary?”
    Usually stops them dead in their tracts! And they never ask again!
    This is to me the rudest question like asking how much is the child worth.

    By best mom of 2 on Thursday, July 07, 2011 at 5:08 am.

    You could try responding, “Why do you ask?” If someone responds that she’s interested in adopting, you can direct them to your agency for assistance.

    If the questioner is just being nosy, you can turn questions back to her, ie “How much did you spend on hospital delivery? It often runs about the same.”  Or you could just pretend to assume they want to know about adoption and invite them to call you to talk about it in detail…the idly curious and nosy probably won’t call. Definitely deflect the questions if they’re being asked in front of your kids.

    By Sharon Van Epps on Thursday, July 07, 2011 at 9:19 pm.

    Regarding the refund - my understanding that the maximum amount paid per family (maybe per child, we only have one) is $13,000.  The remainder of any expenses can be deducted at 100%, so there’s incremental benefit there.  So the $50k-$60k claims seem overblown to me.

    And as many of you probably know, the US government is not parting with the money easily….

    Sorry to divert from the very important focus of this post.  I agree that the financial cost of adoption is best addressed when our kids aren’t part of the conversation.  For people who ask about it because they’re considering adoption, I think it’s important to be frank about the considerable expense.  But for the looky-lous, I tell them it cost us nothing.  If it goes further than that, I’ll admit to paying for services so that we could find our son.  But it’s an investment in his life (and ours) that has high upside for returns that can’t be quantified.

    By T Elliott on Friday, July 08, 2011 at 7:16 pm.
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