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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


    Questions about the cost of adoption, while intrusive, bother me less when they are are phrased generally, rather than specifically. So for example, “Is adoption really expensive”? or “How much does adoption cost”? are acceptable to me, but “How much did it cost to adopt your son”? or worse “How much did your son cost”? are not. The difference for me is that the former questions are merely nosey, while the latter questions classify my child as a commodity, which is offensive.

    I have a similar problem with the phrasing “Put up for adoption”, which is unfortunately still very common not only in general conversation but in media and professional journalism. The term ‘put up for…’ is associated with auctions, the buying and selling of goods or personal property. Considering the shameful history in the US of human lives having actually been auctioned off as property, it is really pretty disgusting that ‘put up for adoption’ is a term that is readily accepted in our culture.

    But I digress, and am sort of preaching to the choir.

    By Felicia on Monday, July 11, 2011 at 12:41 am.

    I read an article once that stated all children cost money.  Parents who go through childbirth have doctor visits, supplements, hospital fees.  Not to mention the cost of fertility treatments!  So when I get asked that question, that is how I respond!  All children cost money!

    Felicia, I feel you pain.  I wonder why my friend’s children conceived through in vitro fertilization are never described that way while my son through adoption is often described as adopted first.

    By Karen011 on Monday, July 11, 2011 at 1:43 am.

    gqqfier15, thank you very much for your response. As we have begun to discuss adopting a second child as well, I understand the frustration related to the cost involved. It is certainly a financial strain for our family as well. Good luck to you and your family!

    best mom of 2, glad you have found your go to response as well. Thank you for your reply, much appreciated.

    Sharon Van Epps, thank you for your response as well. Usually I can determine why the questions are being asked, but at times it is difficult. Great suggestion to offer to have them call if they want additional info.

    T Elliott, thank you for your response. I agree, the investment in our sons life as well as ours, has been immeasurable!

    lisaadoptedachild, thank you for your response! I like your response as well!

    By Maximilian's Mommy on Monday, July 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm.

    I love the answer to the cost question “Max is priceless” - I’ll definitely be using that!  I’ve used the deflection “well, adoption costs about the same as a hospital delivery” myself on several occasions.  And when I can tell the people are genuinely curious, I usually give the full range of possible costs through our agency.

    As for how families are getting $65,000 refunds?  That’s a simple one.  They adopted a sibling group, so they’re getting $13,000 per adoption.  At least, that was the case in the last article I read on how difficult some people are finding it to get their refunds.  The article focused on several families, but the headline (grabs attention, dontchaknow) was written about one family which had adopted 5 siblings.

    By Thalas'shaya on Monday, July 11, 2011 at 7:05 pm.

    Thalas’shaya, wow what an interesting article you must have read about the people who adopted 5 siblings. That is so wonderful and completely amazing! So inspirational! Thanks for sharing!

    By Maximilian's Mommy on Monday, July 11, 2011 at 7:20 pm.

    I find this entire conversation fascinating and I think there may be a few additional angles we could consider.  Everyone who has commented so far has been right, since there is no wrong answer. There are just different perspectives. 

    I too have had people ask me about my son’s cost (I love the “priceless” response and with a smile that usually settles it).  But, I have also found that many people are asking because they have at one time, or are now, considering adoption.  And with the overwhelming and inconsistent information they get about the costs of adoption, they genuinely want someone to give them a bit of guidance about what the numbers are.  So, in addition to telling people that my son is priceless, I also gently explain that if they are interested in some detailed information on the subject, they may want to check out this web site.  It’s a nice way to send them in the direction of some real facts if they are considering adoption and don’t want to reveal that to me. 

    Also, with regard to the tax credit (which I think sadly will sunset after 2012 unless some very good lobbyists can turn things around) there is another avenue that can provide more assistance to potential adoptive parents.  And that is corporate America.  There are over 2 million companies in this country and only about 200 of them provide adoption assistance to their employees.  I commend those companies that have taken the proactive step to offer adoption support.  I also think there’s an opportunity for all of us to help spread the word.  If the tax credit does indeed go away, employers could play a bigger role in helping families and children achieve their dreams.  Their current assistance programs are driven by the tax credit.  However, it doesn’t have to be. Employers could continue to offer adoption assistance independent of the government.  There are some great and free materials available to employers who would consider offering assistance and it’s one of the easiest benefits for an employer to administer.  The benefits of employer adoption assistance programs are probably as great for the employer as they are for the employee.  We just need more of them to recognize the positive impact they can have in helping people and to consider doing it without the government’s insistence.

    By A. Grant - USAdopt on Friday, August 05, 2011 at 5:10 pm.

    My first response would be a question: Why do you want to know. This gives me a framework. Are they genuinely curious or simply incredibly naive and rude? If they’re considering adoption, I would agree to discuss it at an appropriate time out of the hearing of my children. Nosey and or rude individuals need direct education. In my experience, subtleties are lost on them.

    Since many people are unaware of how hurtful these types of questions can be to an adopted child who overhears them I would also take the opportunity to educate them.

    My now adult children remember hearing people how much they cost or why their birthparents didn’t want them. It took lots of reimprinting to undo the harm of these insensitive interactions.  Every time we educate an uniformed person we are preventing other adopted kids from being injured by such unaware and nosy people.

    By Gayle.Swift on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 8:30 pm.
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