Valerie Harper, adoptive parentThere’s a saying that,
“Love makes a family.” Money sometimes makes a family on top of
all that love. Or at least a deposit of $4,000 begins the process.
Technically, it’s labeled a “retainer” and we wrote the check
on Saturday morning to a law office in Los Angeles specializing in
We’re buying a baby.
It sounds a bit crass to describe it that way, but that’s what it
boils down to. We were told to budget $25,000 to $30,000 to get our
baby. There are less expensive paths to adoption as outlined by
Adopting from the U.S. foster care system is generally
the least expensive type of adoption, usually involving little or
no cost, and states often provide subsidies to adoptive parents.
Stepparent and kinship adoptions are often not very costly. Agency
and private adoptions can range from $5,000 to $40,000 or more
depending on a variety of factors including services provided,
travel expenses, birthmother expenses, requirements in the state,
and other factors. International adoptions can range from $7,000 to
But we’ve quickly learned that money is another way of ensuring
our preferences. “Preferences” is the politically correct way
of saying we want a white baby. Before everyone pounces, I wrote
about this once before when we were first
considering sperm donors. I used a review of a story line from
The L Word way back in Season 2.
Central to the show is Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals)
and Tina Kennard (Laurel Hollomon), a lesbian couple who, after
seven years of dating, want to have a child by artificially
inseminating Tina. The character of Bette Porter is biracial, of
black and white descent. Bette and Tina struggle to find a suitable
sperm donor until one day, Bette announces that she’s found the
perfect man. Tina is shocked when the donor turns out to be black,
and she realizes that she hadn’t fully processed the possibility
of having a part-black child. Bette is surprised and hurt that Tina
would be so uncomfortable with having a biracial baby, but Tina
finally comes around and she is successfully
What was left out of the review was Tina defending why she thought
they should have a Caucasian baby. In the heat of their debate,
Tina said (this is the paraphrased version because I couldn’t
find the quote online), “Isn’t it hard enough for a child to
grow up with two mommies… why would we want to burden it with
being biracial too?”
It’s strange, but the more we talk with our friends and family
about adopting, race is always brought up in the conversation. Why
In December, we attended a seminar for an
agency adoption. The social worker was wonderful and we learned
more about the process, but we decided that our chances for a match
would increase if we retain the law office with 12 couples on its
wait list versus the 150 represented by the agency.
Of course, there’s a premium for increasing these odds and it
equates to $10,000 more than the agency price. After spending
$55,000 on fertility treatments this still seems like a bargain
and low risk, since we’re practically guaranteed to get a baby.
Or so they say.
There still are financial risks. I’ll refer back to Adoption.com
and its blurb on
Domestic Independent Adoptions:
Adoptive families who pursue independent adoptions
report spending $8,000 to $30,000 and more depending on several
factors. Independent adoptions are now allowed in most states, but
advertising in newspapers, magazines, etc. seeking birth parents is
not allowed in all states. Costs for advertising for birth parents
can be in the $5,000 range.
Adoptive parents may find that they pay birth parent expenses for
birth parents who then change their mind and that money is not
reimbursed. Some couples have had more than one arrangement with a
birth parent fall through. Some states require that adoptive
parents pay for separate legal representation for birth parents, in
addition to their own legal representation. If the child has
medical difficulties, birth expenses can be much
Next step: We need to complete our
homestudy with the State and this will cost another $2,500.
In parallel, we write our parent profile. This is a marketing
vehicle and the primary way a birthmother will decide to select us.
The adoption director at the law office encouraged us to emphasize
that Jeanine is an attorney. He indicated that birthmothers
gravitate to professionals because of the “stability”
perception. He also suggested a beach photo since we live in
Newport. Midwestern birthmothers love the thought of their kid
growing up near the beach and seemingly the good life. That
allusion to money is a weird thing… whatever it takes.
Jeanine and I will create our profile in the next two weeks. Then
we wait for Juno.
This post is cross-posted at