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Can you share your expectant mother expenses incurred?

Husband and I are getting much closer to making a choice on agency.  One detail that seems to be very unpredictable across the board is EMom living/medical expenses.  Is anyone willing to share personal experiences based around this topic?  We’re just trying to get a good idea of the types and amounts of EMom expenses we can anticipate.


For our first son, we paid abt $1500 or so, which was her paycheck for 6 weeks while she recovered from the birth. Paid $4500 which included 1k in car repairs on a baby we no longer have. That agency passed out our money like candy. Our 2nd son we paid nothing.  Our agency (both of our sons) focuses more on helping birthparents get on their feet and being self sufficient.

Posted by lincolnlog on Aug 09, 2013 at 6:31am

@lincolnlog What agency did you use?

Posted by KristyR on Aug 09, 2013 at 7:43am

DS’s birthmother received less than $3K. Basically, it was 2 or 3 months of rent. She didn’t want to ask for anything, but ended up having an “emergency” C-section (the hospital badly mismanaged her labor) and couldn’t work for 6-8 weeks post-partum.

DD’s birthmother asked for $1,550.

We paid $500 for expenses for an emom who chose to parent, and $600 in a scam. I felt that agency handed out money far too easily.

Posted by rredhead on Aug 09, 2013 at 8:36am

@lincolnlog @rredhead since both of your mentioned the agency handing out money easily, can I ask…we’re you able to set a budget for Emoms expenses or were you placing money in a common pot of sorts where the agency pulled from as needed?

Posted by KristyR on Aug 09, 2013 at 8:45am

We paid $0 birthmother expenses.  Our small, non-profit agency works with the expectant parents to get community resources they are eligible for, such as WIC and food stamps.  They also wait until late in the pregnancy to show the expectant parents profiles of adoptive families, once they are confident that they want to make an adoption plan.  I think this is in the best interest of everyone involved.

Posted by Wannabe2 on Aug 09, 2013 at 5:35pm

We just paid $6k in a failed match but it was a long match (5 months). Would have paid more if it worked out for post birth expenses. I didn’t mind the expenses (rent, food, bus pass, phone, etc.) and didn’t feel they were out of line. I also appreciated that at least from our agency I received a detailed estimate at match and an itemization after she decided to parent.

Posted by AdoptiveMama on Aug 09, 2013 at 7:19pm

We used Hope For Families out of florida.  Our Emom expenses were $10000.  We felt the agency tried to manipulate and pressure us into giving even more but thank goodness that we had set this as our cap from the beginning.  they did not encourage the emom to be self sufficient and use this as a springboard to better herself.  They passed out the money to her like it was candy and bottomless, and we were the bad people because as the agency told us, “the birth mom sees your money as love’.  When the birthmom left the hospital with the baby for the next 3 weeks, the agency tried to pressure us to buy the license and insurance on a car they were giving to her.  It was a never ending manipulation and all about money.  We would never recommend them to anyone.  And sadlly after all that money she was no better off at the end of her pregnancy,

Posted by Judy2012 on Aug 09, 2013 at 7:30pm

@AnnaAtlanta Can you share which agency you are working with?

Posted by KristyR on Aug 09, 2013 at 7:54pm

We paid $1000 in birthmother expenses.  Our birthmother is a teenager and just needed money for maternity clothes, transportation etc.

Posted by Danielle1 on Aug 09, 2013 at 10:24pm

We also paid $6000, which was a separate category of “birth mother’s expenses” from the agency fees.  We turned down a match that was estimated at $12,500 before that!  We didn’t decline just for that reason, but that alone would have been a huge factor for us, in terms of financial risk.

We DID specify that we would only accept matches from ep’s with medical coverage (and yet were matched with one without it! but it came through within a few weeks, and we were assured that it would…)

Other states that we looked at had set limits, I believe at $2500 and $3500?

This is the area that I felt most nervous (financially speaking) and conflicted (ethically speaking) about…

Financially, because in our case it was:

* an estimate, but could go up, and of course once you were committed to the match if it continued upwards it would be very hard to leave the match based on that but also could be quite stressful to see it rising with no limit.

* 100% non-refundable - even if the match fell through the day after the payment was made, none would be refundable or applied to next match.  Also, if they ended up needing LESS money for expenses you had already paid it all.

Ethically, because:

* on the one hand we are paying so much to the agencies for all of THEIR expenses (rent, salaries etc) when actually of course we would rather be supporting the expectant family to be in the best scenario they can be in terms of stress levels, living conditions, health and all.

* but it feels so sketchy in terms of the perception of “paying” for the pregnancy, directly, and the concern that the expectant family would feel overt or subconscious pressure to place because of the financial support.  Our DD’s birthparents, I believe, did/do not know that this money came from us directly.  From speaking with others, I think this is fairly common, that they think it is from the agency’s funding?  And in a way this feels clearer, that there is no sense of direct “owing” or “dependence” or having to justify or feel grateful in any way for that monetary contribution.  So when it came up after our DD’s birth that they were so relieved to have a rental car for a few months since the agency paid for it, of course we didn’t correct that perception.

* we were never given an itemized breakdown of the expenses, either for an estimate or for actual use, as AnnaAtlanta was.  I think this would have felt more official and formal.

Another comment regarding helping expectant families access food stamps etc.  There are cases when they do not WANT to go that route in life, and that is one of the reasons for choosing adoption for their child, so in those cases just getting their bills covered and allowing them to allocate it as needed without entering into any dependence on the state may be a preferable solution.

Oh, and then there are always the unexpected expenses - one friend did receive an itemized breakdown of the medical expenses she covered and was surprised to see that she had paid for the tubal ligation that was done at the same time as her DD’s c-section birth. 

It is a complicated area for sure, best wishes as you decide what your comfort level is and make your decisions about an agency.

Posted by mamina on Aug 09, 2013 at 10:56pm

We didn’t adopt through an agency.

When we adopted DS, we told the facilitator how much we were willing to spend on emom expenses. Theoretically, they would only present us to moms within that range.

When we matched with the emom who chose to parent, the agency said she needed X and we believed them. It was within our budget. When the next “emom” had the same expenses, we realized that they basically just gave every emom the state maximum ($4K I think).

When we matched with DD’s birthmom, there were estimated expenses listed and we agreed with them. The attorney tried to get us to just give her the state maximum and we refused.

Posted by rredhead on Aug 10, 2013 at 12:22am

With our 2 private adoptions, we used an attorney and we set the amount at 1k a month or less, that was our budget. That is not a lot for housing, food and living expenses when unemployed, but it is a lot of us on top of our normal bills.

The adoptions happen just a few months apart and this was the breakdown and we did have receipts and attorney approval, which you want to get:

Adoption 1: $8,587 birth mother living expenses, etc.
Adoption 2: $12,057.36 birth mother living expenses, etc.
Additional legal/other: $3,375

I thought the expenses were fair, but had the adoptions failed it would have been very hard financially to start over.

I believe it would be best for birth mothers to be required to use community resources and special government funding so that it is not a factor in adoption, but until that happens I thought our budget was what we could handle.

I think we were lucky because most the agencies in our area ranged from 18K-45K, so doing it private more went to the mother and less to an agency. Because she was housing my baby in her tummy I wanted to make sure she was well feed and taken care of and safe.

Posted by Private And Foster Mom on Aug 10, 2013 at 12:34am

Just a word about “welfare” and other resources: They’re being cut all the time. It’s very hard to qualify for “food stamps” if you’re a single person. In CA, the average WIC monthly amount is less than $70.

There are wait lists for Section 8 housing, and in some places, fewer landlords will rent to Section 8 tenants.

Charities are trying to make up for all of the budget cuts, but with more people being financially strapped, and fewer people able and/or willing to make donations, they really can’t pick up all of the slack.

Basically, if we want to see fewer expectant mothers asking for expenses, we need to ask our Congresspeople to step up and pay for social welfare programs (as well as real sex education and birth control).

Posted by rredhead on Aug 10, 2013 at 7:27am

KristyR - The agency I’m speaking about is A Child’s Dream but I believe you cannot apply directly with them. We are working with Adoption Information Services (consultants, not at all brokers or anything like that, who I highly recommend out of Atlanta but I believe they work with all states). Feel free to shoot me a message if you’d like further information!

Posted by AdoptiveMama on Aug 10, 2013 at 8:57pm

If you are paying emom expenses, you should get an itemized breakdown.  We were told from the beginning what the state maximum amount was, we were given a breakdown by month, and we were updated every few days. 

I do understand that some people have concerns about the ethics of paying emom expenses.  My concern was making sure these women had a place to live that was clean and safe, had utilities and food to eat.  And yes, the emoms we worked with did receive help through our attorney applying for Medicaid, food stamps, WIC, etc.  We were told upfront that emom expenses were nonrefundable unless emom chose another adoptive family after working with us.  We did have a situation where we paid two months expenses only to have emom disappear.  Financially that was not easy, emotionally it was much harder, but we understood it is emom’s right to consider adoption and then change her mind at any point in the process.

Posted by jszmom on Aug 12, 2013 at 6:59pm

I am using an an agency that has pooled expenses.  Every adoptive family pays the same amount.  Anything that the expectant mother needs comes from that one pool.  There are no hidden costs or surprises along the way.  This was a big reason why I selected this agency.  This process is stressful enough with too many ups and downs as it is.  I did not want the added stress of surprise costs.

Posted by kaylababy on Aug 13, 2013 at 5:27pm

I am SHOCKED that people pay expenses of birthmothers. Having domestically adopted our daughter 5 years ago, I thought I understood the adoption process, but I didn’t know people pay birthmothers.  I feel so naive! We adopted our DD through Hope Cottage in Dallas.  The birthmom chose use about 3 weeks before she was due.  The agency had to rush the process with the lawyers and make sure all legal bases were covered and when DD was 10 days old, she came home to us (until the process was completely legal - in this case waiting for birthfather to be contacted to officially relinquish his rights which he verbally committed to weeks earlier - DS lived with a TLC family arranged by the agency.  They do this to protect the adoptive family from getting too attached before it’s a “for sure” thing.  I appreciate that).  In the end, we paid the agency for legal fees and the birthmom got nothing.  I’m surprised birthmoms get paid for “expenses”.  How do we avoid women taking advantage of the system?  From previous posts, it sounds like many do and at the expense of vulnerable families - very unfortunate.
We are very pleased with our experience through Hope Cottage.  They don’t just leave birthmoms hanging.  They provide counseling and social services for birth families.

Good luck on your journey!

Posted by Vloney on Aug 13, 2013 at 6:43pm

This is certainly a tough topic.  We ended up with a agency with not too high of fees but no BM expense pool.  We could set our budget and adjust if our personal circumstances changed.

Our first match failed, was a long match of 7 mo that ended in mo. 6 and about $3500 in BM expenses…original est was about $6,000.  Our agency is conservative and overestimates expenses a little in effort to avoid going over est. budget.

Our second match was an immediate placement of a 5 mo old and we had no BM expenses.

We are now matched again with our son’s BM.  Our expenses are est. at $3700.  Her due date moved up by two weeks so this will likely be less.

Also, our agency fees are never lost…with failed match agecy fees carried over to next match.  Only BM expenses at risk.  Additional fees were incurred, having homestudy updated annually while in matching process.

Disclaimer: I use BM, AM and other “short-hand” for ease of typing and clarification in communication not to reflect disrespect or opinions/attitudes.

Posted by thefabfundys on Aug 13, 2013 at 8:11pm

I used Adoption Circle in Columbus, Ohio. I paid $3000 in living expenses which is the max they allow per birth family.  If you pay the living expenses and its a failed match you lose that money.  However, they are very careful about handing out your money. It’s paid to the agency and then the birth mom has to submit for the money and the agency will only give it to her if its an approved living expense, such as rent, groceries, utilities, etc.  According to my agency, the adoptions laws in Ohio do not permit you to give a birth mom gifts in addition to this $3000 and if you do so it could jeopardize your adoption.  I had given my birth mom a Walmart gift card after the birth of my daughter and the agency had to reimburse me from that $3000 for that exact reason.  I hope this helps and good luck with your journey!

Posted by Smartin3235 on Aug 14, 2013 at 2:17am

I used an attorney, initials KL out of Los Angeles. She asked for $5,500 up front and she said it was “deemed earned” day one. She then required us to pay a minimum of $1,800 to advertise for a baby. We asked that we not be matched with a BM that did drugs. However, she matched us with a woman who did drugs “in the beginning” of her pregnancy. When we found that wasn’t completely true (she gave us the BM’s medical records after she asked us for another $10,000!), we pulled out of the adoption due to excessive drug use on the part of the BM. Our adoption was taken over by another woman who also paid her agency fees, etc. as well as BM expenses. When our attorney decided she didn’t like her behavior, she asked her to pay the hospital bill (BM had given birth by now) and then immediately informed her that she was not getting the baby. We were called back in to possibly adopt this baby as we would now be able to see if this baby had any health issues from the drug use from this BM. She also called in another couple that were not her clients (we’re not sure why she did this). She ended up bad mouthing us to the BM and convincing her (temporarily) to go with the other couple that she barely knew. The BM changed her mind the day after the baby left with the other couple, but my attorney wanted to collect a third set of fees, so she forced (via extortion, lies, threats, kidnapping, etc.) to sign paperwork to give her child to a gay couple that she did not want her child raised by. After all of this, our lawyer kept $16,000 of our money and we have nothing to show for it!

Posted by Mommy Hopeful on Aug 16, 2013 at 8:32am

We are not to that point yet, but because of our budget will have to stay within state we live which is Ohio.  Idk about others states laws but Ohio caps birth mom expenses at $3000.

Posted by Smudra on Aug 17, 2013 at 2:44am

Very helpful everyone!  We are looking at an agency that marches only 3rd trimester so we’re hoping this will help lighten the load of EMom expenses.  The journey continues!!

Posted by KristyR on Aug 18, 2013 at 4:54am

In addition to some of the living expenses others have mentioned we paid for a cell phone with minutes so we could stay in contact. Our attorney’s office was pretty good about monitoring how they handed out the money. I believe there were limits on how much we could provide for clothes, etc.

Posted by Aurora122 on Aug 19, 2013 at 4:43am

FYI everyone…make sure you see an ultrasound before you pay ANY BM expenses. I was almost matched again and the BM showed a pregnancy test but refused to get an ultrasound. Unfortunately, the situation sounded so good in the beginning that I paid $400 to her electric company so that her electricity wouldn’t get turned off, $100 for food, and another $500+ for a Lawyer to go out there to evaluation the situation. We now suspect that she’s not pregnant at all and the pregnancy test was her 20 year old daughter’s test. We are now out another $1,000 for yet, another fraudulent situation. BE CAREFUL!

Posted by Mommy Hopeful on Aug 21, 2013 at 12:37am

This is one of the hardest parts of adopting.  We have had two failed adoptions. One was a very expensive scam.  Consequently, it has taken a while to recover emotionally and financially in order to try again. 

In the meantime, we have been contacted by a couple of BMs both desperate for financial help. 

Is there a way to find out what states have maximum expense limits and how much? 

Good luck.  Ethically, I don’t know where there aren’t more guidelines.


Posted by meljameson99 on Aug 22, 2013 at 11:45pm

meljameson99 I’m so sorry to hear of your troubles.. Can I ask to hear more about the scam, whether you went through an agency and what you plan to do moving forward knowing what you know now?

Posted by KristyR on Aug 23, 2013 at 3:20am

I’m another adoptive parent who didn’t pay a penny to our daughter’s birthmom. We also adopted through Hope Cottage in Dallas, TX. We had a finite amount of money for our adoption, and paying birthmom expenses would have been out of the question. We were never asked for a dime above the agency fee—a sliding scale fee based entirely upon our income. Of course we also paid for our home study and finalization costs, but that was it. Hope Cottage provides resources to the pregnant women that they counsel and that’s one of the things that we love about HC.  They’re a non-profit agency, they do not continually pull money from their adoptive families, and they do truly amazing work!

I wonder if you could contact them and ask if they have any referrals for agencies in your area with similar standards.

Best of luck to you!

Posted by zippity on Aug 27, 2013 at 2:12am

Please do not use Hope Cottage El Paso/Dallas TX!  The mother gave up the baby but my son did not want to adopt the baby.  Hope Cottage did not care they stated the mother was their client and they swiftly and sneakily took away his rights in Dallas - he lives in El Paso.  They did not care the baby was wanted by his family! Sad!!  All they wanted was to adopt the baby to make money off a baby!  Sad but true!  We hired a lawyer but Hope Cottage out smarted her.  They been doing this for a long time and have it down pat to take away the baby.  I called and cried and screamed and begged and cursed and threatened like a mother lion.  They just threatened to call the local police.  Really Hope Cottage!!  Well guess what you can take the baby even though he was much wanted by his family.  But you can not take away who he is.  If he is my son’s he will have curly hair.  You will wonder why as adoptive parents.  He may have blue eyes or a blue baby and you will not no why!  That is because you might have took him away but you can not change who he is - ours!  And guess what Hope Cottage - I do not think adoptive parents want to take wanted babies they want babies that need a home.  They are just raising him for us because he will always be ours! our DNA our family our LOVe

Posted by sheliatiannna on Dec 21, 2017 at 2:38am

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