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Birthparent living expenses?


Hi all -
I’d love the group’s input on the amount of birthparent living expenses you’ve paid. We are in the very fortunate position of being in a good relationship with our daughter’s birthparents, and an even more fortunate position of them wanting us to adopt our daughter’s sibling that our birthmother is giving birth to this fall. Our agency recently informed us that this time around, the birthparent living expenses are quickly depleting, and the birthparents are asking for more. We were prepared to pay the $5000 in birthparent living expenses that the agency estimated (which is more than our last adoption), but because we are still several months from the birth, I am waiting for the agency to get back to me with a new number. I’d love this group’s input so that I’m prepared for that discussion. Also, our birthmother and I talk often, but I obviously try to avoid talking directly about finances ... I’d also appreciate any advice from those of you who have had these types of discussions directly with birthparents.  Feel free to reply to this post, or to message me directly. Many thanks, everyone!

Replies

We paid 7,000 in bm expenses. Ours covered the month before birth and the 6 wks after. I would gladly do it again! We paid for her cell, her hotel room, her food, her toiletries, her clothing…the whole nine yards. our agency handled it. We did get a receipt afterwards and were given a 200 dollar refund of what was not used. Ask and see if you will get a refund if the amount is not used. Good luck!

Posted by MotheringBoys on Jul 17, 2012 at 9:10pm

One thing I hear birth mother groups ask is, How would they be paying the bills if she WEREN’T pregnant?

If there are other resources available to the expecting parents, they should tap into those first instead of to you. If you are paying living expenses rather than pregnancy expenses (which is admittedly, a fine line), it’s possible that the pregnancy is coming across as a meal ticket, which is icky in so many ways.

Paying expenses is such a slippery slope. It blurs ethical lines. You have to go into it having no expectations of getting anything for your $5K. If you can look at it as a gift, go forward with it. But if you see it as a transaction, a quid pro quo, proceed with caution. In your mind you will have encumbered them to place their baby with you.

Posted by Lori Lavender Luz on Jul 17, 2012 at 10:41pm

bklvr:
Adoptive Families surveys over 1,000 families each year on the actual cost and timing of their adoptions.
Birthmother expenses averaged about $4,000 in the last survey which you can find here:

http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/articles.php?aid=2350

Of course, these are just averages…so half were well above this number and half well below. 

I’ll be interestd to see how members of AFC’s experiences fit with our survey.

As I"m sure your agency is aware, birthmother expense payments are regulated by state law and case law in each state…...
Best,
Susan

Posted by SusanC on Jul 17, 2012 at 10:50pm

I tend to agree with Lori Lavender Luz.

For our first adoption, we paid about $3K in birthmother expenses. Basically, we paid 3 months’ rent. At first, our son’s birthmother didn’t want anything at all. However, unemployment over Christmas meant that she couldn’t make her rent (the month before Jackson was due), so we paid that. Then, she had to have an “emergency” C-section, so she couldn’t even look for new work for 6 weeks. So, we paid 2 more months’ rent. I didn’t mind paying this at all.

For our second adoption, I really felt like we were paying for the baby. It’s a long story, but we ended up giving the lawyer about $2500 for birthmother expenses. Nothing was paid directly to my daughter’s birthmother.

Posted by rredhead on Jul 17, 2012 at 11:18pm

Expenses are such a weird/awkward thing. We paid very little the first time around and I feel very uncomfortable about it. How can it NOT be coercive?
Your situation is tough because this is someone you have a relationship with and WILL have a relationship with no matter what.
I agree with what is posted above. What would they do if there was no pregnancy? What will they do afterwards?
I know that community resources are really slim these days but maybe finding agencies that deal with specific concerns they have (either to keep the power on, or to put food on the table) and helping them navigate those agencies might be better than paying the expenses. Of course this is my two cents. What will happen if you say no?

Posted by Farmerjoan on Jul 18, 2012 at 12:28am

Everything, even a small item, should go through your agency/atty.  You do not want to be in a position of expectant parents claiming that they were under duress to accept funds and place their child with you.  There are legal guidelines that differ from state to state.  The most important focus should always be the continued good health of the expenctant mother and her developing baby.  Doctor’s visits, prenatal vitamins, emotional support, and the like. 
The examples I have to share are on the very high side:  our first open domestic adoption, living expenses over $15K, same birthmother, a year later, another $15K to provide support while pregnant with a full bio sibling she asked to place with us (she decided to parent this child) and $6K in living expenses for our second successful adoption.  These numbers can be all over the map, my friend was able and glad to help out her daughter’s birthmother to over $50K—all expenses approved by legal counsel.

Posted by double r on Jul 18, 2012 at 1:16am

double r, Wow! I thought WE paid a lot of expenses!

With our first domestic adoption there were NO bmom expenses. With our second, we ended up paying over 11k (agency bmom grant paid 3k), and we just got ANOTHER bill (baby was born 3/16) from the agency.

The bmom was homeless when she contacted the agency in early October. We were matched in mid-October, so we paid 6.5 months of living expenses. This included rent, utilities, phone, food, maternity clothes, toiletries, and cab fare. She went over the estimate by 5k. The agency covered 3k, but we had to come up with another 2k before the finalization last week. Now a new bill to pay. I have to wonder - when will it end?? At least everything is itemized, and we can see exactly were and to who it went.

Definitely don’t deal directly with the bmom on money issues. Our agency took care of all of that.

Posted by vjanak on Jul 18, 2012 at 3:49am

I think Farmerjoan has made a good suggestion about trying to find housing via community resources.

One idea might be to contact the charity arm of your church and ask them if they provide housing for a pregnant woman as this is often free..  Another idea might be to find independent maternity homes that aren’t affiliated in any way with an agency.  The church charity arms and homes will often help a woman with her life after birth whatever choice she makes.  I know that many HAPs are often concened about the emom’s life after birth and these more independent places can often help rpovide that.  As Farmerjoan says though, whether your agency would go for you finding alternative housing is another thing. 

Btw the fees that you mention sound really high for rent.

The following are the highest rents in the US:

http://www.investinganswers.com/personal-finance/homes-mortgages/15-most-expensive-us-rental-markets-3319

I know of a bmom on another forum who said that the expenses for her rent were about $7,000 for 3 months and she was sharing an apartment. 

Also Farmerjoan did make a good point about what asking happens afterwards.  The above bmom said that after her baby was born and she had to leave the housing, she ended up homeless again and it is only now, a few years later, that she has been able to find housing.

For those who haven’t yet chosen an agency but want to find one without bmom expenses, perhaps finding a Human Services-type agency where the focus is on helping women in need and adoption is only a small part of the service.  I have an AP friend who adopted through an agency like this in the US and she would never go any other way.  It did take a lot longer to be matched than in an adoption only agency (because the majority of emoms parented) but she could rest easy knowing that her child’s bmom had every possible help she could get.

Posted by katiesue on Jul 18, 2012 at 5:56am

Our state sets a limit on expenses, although the agency/attorney can go to the judge to get approval if there is a specific need (e.g., long match time, moving expenses).  You should check the laws in the state you are adopting, and if it is an interstate adoption, you should check both states.  Our attorney handled all expenses, but we agreed on estimated expenses when we matched.

Posted by jszmom on Jul 18, 2012 at 12:55pm

We paid around 5k for 3 months of rent, food, cell phone, maternity clothes, toiletries, minimal furniture for her apartment, etc. Everything went through the agency and approved by our lawyer. Our state has limitations, and yours probably does too.

And to others’ points, you DO NOT want to be in the position of the birth parents claiming they had to place with you because of duress and null the adoption.

I think you are in a very tricky situation, given that the baby is not due for a while. And like others have said, what other resources does she have? I would also ask the agency for an itemized bill on what they are spending the money on, and why it is depleting so fast. Is she having a complicated pregnancy, requiring more care? Is one or the other birth parent out of work (where’s unemployment benefits)? You should be the last resort for support. And I agree with others advice on this too:  under no circumstances should you talk about money with her. That is what lawyers and agencies are for.

I hate to sound cynical, and please do not take offense, but this sounds like a meal ticket waiting to happen. After all, they are ‘giving’ you the full birth sibling, why shouldn’t you go above and beyond to pay their expenses? Maybe the think they deserve a higher standard of living, given their pending placement of their child with you. I am not saying this is your situation, and I am not pretending I understand your whole story. And ultimately, it is your choice (bounded by the law of your state).

But this happened with my girlfriend, who adopted the half-sibling of the birth-mom. She was constantly harassed for money afterwards, and the birthmom tried to guilt her into more money (both before and after).

I find the whole thing birthmom expense thing distasteful in general (I only had peace about ours because I had VERY detailed receipts from the agency, and I knew I wasn’t becoming a victim of fraud), so maybe I am jaded.

And even after the adoption, I had to turn down our birthmom’s continued requests for money (which is actually against the law in our state for me to do).

Just be careful. I would like to believe the best in people, but sometimes you have to be prepared for the ugly.

Posted by Melissa_Joy on Jul 18, 2012 at 9:50pm

This is why we were only open to adopting to states that had a cap on birth mother expenses.  Our state caps at $3000 (I think).  We paid $2500 to our daughter’s birthmother.

Posted by Genevieve's Mom on Jul 18, 2012 at 9:59pm

Thanks so very much for all of your comments and personal messages ... the information has been very helpful, and I really appreciate your candor!

Posted by BookManiac18 on Jul 18, 2012 at 11:25pm

this is one of the things that is cause for reform… drastic reform…

Posted by EST on Jul 20, 2012 at 12:55am

“The bmom was homeless when she contacted the agency in early October.”

Vjanak, just out of interest, where does the child’s bmom live now that she has delivered the baby.  Is she homeless again?  I just ask because, as I mentioned in a previous post, that is the situation with an online bmom I know from another site - she was homeless, she lived in bparent housing during her pregnancy, and was homeless again after birth.

“One thing I hear birth mother groups ask is, How would they be paying the bills if she WERENT pregnant”

That’s a good point, Lavender Luz.  Taking that further, if a woman was homeless and jobless and NOT pregnant, she would probably go to an organisation that helps those in need to ask for help and she would hopefully get the counselling, help to find resources and training she needed to improve her life and get back on track. 

In NSW, the same organisations that help woman in need who AREN’T pregnant are the same ones that help women in need who ARE pregnant.  After receiving the counselling, help to find resources and training they need to improve their own lives, they are then in a much better place overall to make a decision about their baby’s future - whether it be parenting or adoption.  Adoption is often less required because many of the reasons for considering adoption are overcome by the aforementioned counselling, help to find resources and training and thus there end up being less reasons for the woman to consider adoption. 

“Double R”:  These numbers can be all over the map, my friend was able and glad to help out her daughters birthmother to over $50Kall expenses approved by legal counsel.”
What would have happened if the adoption had not gone through, would she have lost the whole lot?  Would she have been prepared to lose that amount?

“Paying expenses is such a slippery slope. It blurs ethical lines. You have to go into it having no expectations of getting anything for your $5K. If you can look at it as a gift, go forward with it. But if you see it as a transaction, a quid pro quo, proceed with caution. In your mind you will have encumbered them to place their baby with you.”

Lavender Luz makes a good point there.  There is one golden rule in adoption - do not spend any money you cannot afford to lose.

In general (and I’m not just talking adoption here), people only spend money they can’t afford to lose if they feel that by doing so, they can guarantee the outcome.

Posted by katiesue on Jul 20, 2012 at 6:30am

This is one of the reasons why I think the Australian adoption model is far superior to the American model. All adoptions are done through the state, there is no such thing as pre-birth matching, babies stay in foster care until the revocation period is over, adoption agencies do not make money from placing babies and the only money changing hands covers legal fees and processing of paperwork. It just stops there being any kind of grey area with money changing hands and people feeling obligated and people feeling ripped off if a mother changes her mind and decides to parent.

Posted by EriSycamore on Jul 20, 2012 at 9:49am

“This is one of the reasons why I think the Australian adoption model is far superior to the American model. All adoptions are done through the state, there is no such thing as pre-birth matching, babies stay in foster care until the revocation period is over, adoption agencies do not make money from placing babies and the only money changing hands covers legal fees and processing of paperwork. It just stops there being any kind of grey area with money changing hands and people feeling obligated and people feeling ripped off if a mother changes her mind and decides to parent”

I agree.  Below is how it happens in NSW (an Australian state).  It is through the government but there are 3 NGO “agencies” also licensed to do adoptions - however, the 3 agencies are not adoption agencies per se - they are human service agencies that provide help to people in need (as shown above):

http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/parents_carers_and_families/fostering_and_adoption/adoption.html

There is no real reason for there not to be a similar model in the US.

Posted by katiesue on Jul 20, 2012 at 10:21am

Birthparent expenses can be legit. However, check with the state and find out if there are restrictions/stipulations.  And NEVER hand money directly to an expectant mother.  It can come back to bite you. It can imply coercion and you have no record.  Any money that is required should go through an agency or atty and be disbursed for specific needs. 

Our agency (in OR/WA) always counsels the emoms that while aparents will pay necessary expenses, it’s important to understand that (a) that money will stop coming in at some point and (b) it can impact relationships (if it’s an open adoption and funds are wasted/misused/etc).  They always get them enrolled in state/local aid/programs, and then expenses are listed for things that aren’t covered.

We paid a little over $2K for expenses to our son’s bmom.  We actually had to MAKE her take some of the $$, as she didn’t want it. However, some of her necessities weren’t being met just because of the situation, and the hospital was a few miles away, so when she was VERY pregnant, we paid for cab fare for appts (no public transport available in her town).

We also made sure that our agency knew of meals, little gifts, etc. that we paid for, just in case.  We did cover meals when we were out, and helped with a few sundries here and there, and entrustment gifts that weren’t terribly expensive, yet very meaningful.  But the point was to make sure it was something OK’d/within the state guidelines. Our home state is very specific about what can change hands from one side to another, and without the proper procedures can possibly create a mess.

But in the end, the importance comes down to taking care of the woman who is carrying your baby, and making sure that she has (within reason) the things that she needs.

Good luck and congrats!

Posted by bobby102 on Jul 27, 2012 at 11:09am

But in the end, the importance comes down to taking care of the woman who is carrying your baby, and making sure that she has (within reason) the things that she needs.

Not to nitpick- but this woman is carrying HER baby until the relinquishment papers are signed.  And yes I understand the want and need to help in these situations… I just see this as being a very sticky situation and am sorry for all involved- especially the kids.

Posted by EST on Jul 28, 2012 at 11:36am

I can’t 😞 believe what I am reading from some of you people . My name is Kechia, for all the adoptive parents that help your birth mothers I’m proud of you and your post. For the rest of you speaking of meal tickets, you need to be ashamed of yourselves. Alot of you speak of money and for what, people of today are so selfish. For the record I want everyone out there reading and replying to this blog to know I am a birth mother and have experienced adoption privately as well through an agency. You never know what a pregnant woman is going through till you can walk a mile in their shoes. I mean you can’t take the money with you when it’s your time to leave this earth. The money you all are complaining about can never be paid enough for that mother’s lost to your gain, which is the child. And if you are in the position to help someone why not your birth mom during and 4-6weeks after the pregnancy. She is giving you, your family the greatest gift she can give, life. That should be what’s important. Don’t miss understand me, never be anyone’s fool or atm if you’re feeling that way. Always protect yourself and your family. However get a grip God makes things happen and you cross paths with people for a reason. Also for the adoptive parents that understand what I’m talking about keep doing what your doing, money isn’t everything do whatever you can do if you are able to ensure you have a healthy baby and birth mom. Thanks for reading my opinion.

Posted by keckia on Apr 16, 2015 at 11:16pm

bobby102 brought up an important point—each state has very different restrictions on what can be paid for, how much can be paid, and how the money needs to change hands. I actually spent a great deal of time researching this so that we would be ready for a potential inter-state adoption. I made a spreadsheet of all of the states and what they allow, and shared it on our adoption blog.

Feel free to check it out if anyone is looking for that info: http://whenthestorkgetsconfused.blogspot.com/2015/06/birthmother-expenses.html

Posted by JessRG on Jun 12, 2015 at 11:47pm

My heart goes out to those parents who choose to adopt for what ever reason! My question is it more costly to get a surrogate are in vitro? I know this is a place to vent but most birth Moms wouldn’t choose adoption if they maybe was able to afford taking care of a child! I feel the birth Mom deserves a little of a helping hand! Good thing there is laws in the amount on what too give! It seems a agency will be best to consider!

Posted by Ellen6 on Jul 05, 2015 at 2:14am

It really sickens me that ppl actually think that a birth mother is looking for a meal ticket they spend almost ten months of hell caring a child in there womb sleep less nights of aches and pains goes to countless doctors visits to check on the well being of your baby then has to go thru the pain of delivering the baby that she cant even go home with yu really thing she does all that for a couple thousand dollars then on top of that the emotional distress of going home with swollen breast full of milk with no baby in her arms because out of all ppl she chose you to parent her baby and your telling me after all this she doesn’t deserve your help keep in mind financial issues are more than likely the reason she has to give up her baby in the first place so asking the question what she would have done if she wouldn’t have gotten pregnant is irrelevant if this is the way yu think of a selfless woman God forbid one of them ever chooses you to care for their child and if they did they definitely choose the wrong person. If all your thinking about is loss of money obviously you don’t need a child bc they ate expensive on their own. What’s so wrong with lending a helping hand to some one who entrust you with their baby life. A life is PRICELESS since the topic of discussion is money. If yu really ate concerned about how much money your spending point your fingers at these sneaky adoption agencies that charge you for medical expenses and other taxes then turn around and get money from the state and makes the birth mom get on Medicaid then collects the the money yu gave for medical expenses and fees for themselves.!!!!

Posted by Shand on Feb 18, 2017 at 4:42pm

I was truly thinking about putting my unborn child up for adoptio. until I read some of the responses on this blog. It makes me feel so belittled to know how families who want to adopt feel about the birth moms needs and expenses. As if being a poverty stricken pregnant woman isnt degrading enough. I am glad I read up on adoption and some of the ways adopting parents feel. I’d rather live in poverty with my child and beg for assistance from the state and gov, then give my child up to people who have feelnas though you’re lookinv at them like an atm machine. God have us different paths for a reason. If we were all on the same path no one would need help at all. Baby or no baby. Jesus Christ!!! Sick just sick. Who wants to give they"re baby up to people like this. I would be terrified that money wouldnt be the only thing peoe harbor feelings about when it comes to adoption

Posted by Samone on Feb 22, 2018 at 11:16am

I was truly thinking about putting my unborn child up for adoptio. until I read some of the responses on this blog. It makes me feel so belittled to know how families who want to adopt feel about the birth moms needs and expenses. As if being a poverty stricken pregnant woman isnt degrading enough. I am glad I read up on adoption and some of the ways adopting parents feel. I’d rather live in poverty with my child and beg for assistance from the state and gov, then give my child up to people who have feelnas though you’re lookinv at them like an atm machine. God have us different paths for a reason. If we were all on the same path no one would need help at all. Baby or no baby. Jesus Christ!!! Sick just sick. Who wants to give they"re baby up to people like this. I would be terrified that money wouldnt be the only thing peoe harbor feelings about when it comes to adoption

Posted by Samone on Feb 22, 2018 at 11:16am

I was truly thinking about putting my unborn child up for adoptio. until I read some of the responses on this blog. It makes me feel so belittled to know how families who want to adopt feel about the birth moms needs and expenses. As if being a poverty stricken pregnant woman isnt degrading enough. I am glad I read up on adoption and some of the ways adopting parents feel. I’d rather live in poverty with my child and beg for assistance from the state and gov, then give my child up to people who have feelnas though you’re lookinv at them like an atm machine. God have us different paths for a reason. If we were all on the same path no one would need help at all. Baby or no baby. Jesus Christ!!! Sick just sick. Who wants to give they"re baby up to people like this. I would be terrified that money wouldnt be the only thing peoe harbor feelings about when it comes to adoption

Posted by Samone on Feb 22, 2018 at 11:16am

I apologize for sending the above response sooooo many times. I didnt mean to. Please forgive me.

Posted by Samone on Feb 22, 2018 at 11:32am

I’m a birth mother who placed my daughter for adoption in 2014 because I wanted her to have way more then I could give her! never once did the money cross my mind because if money was on my mind she would have never been placed! there is no amount of money in the world that could replace her! I went through weeks of puking my brains out I spent many sleepless nights tossing and turning from ligament pains every time i coughed or sneezed I pissed myself I bled for 6-8 weeks I left the hospital with full breast and empty arms my family disowned me for giving my baby to a stranger and you people wanna complain about the little assistance you actually do provide if you think we are selfish for asking for help then you my friend don’t need to adopt a child because you are mentally unstable to think woman such as myself find pleasure in selling our kids and putting our bodies through hell its been 4 years and my family still don’t talk to me over a decision I made I’ve thought about suicide over my decision I’ve been told for the last 4 years i’m a POS who gave up on my kid so that someone such as yourself could be a parent! you have no right to complain the lousy 4,000 to 5,000 if that you pay for our living because I didn’t have to place my child i could have decided to abort my child and saved my body but I chose to give someone the gift of life think about that when your complaining about doing for the birth mother!

Posted by birthmom214 on Jul 11, 2018 at 7:01am

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