So I was on Cafemom and found this question about birthmom expenses:
How much do you feel is appropriate for birthmom expenses and what for? Do you believe everything should be paid to the company/place that needs the money from her or do you believe she should be given the cash? Also what do you think about the money if she backs out? What should happen? Should it be tax deductible or should she re-pay it or should it just be a loss?
As I read the responses I was shocked. Some people had said “whatever is needed” others had limitations but not one person mentioned legal issues. So, since it is late and more and more came to me as I wrote I ended up with this response:
I think this is a very valuable discussion to be having here but I think the one thing that has not come up yet is the fact that your laws need to be covered. The state of Idaho says no more than $500 can be given for expenses outside of medical. This amount can go up to $2000 of there is a need shown but it MUST be approved by a judge. I have heard that other states do not have caps but have certain things that are legally allowed to be paid for. So I would recommend checking on that to make sure that if a baby does come into your home you don’t end up unable to finalize because laws weren’t followed. That is a reason I would recommend that all money change hands through the professional. In Idaho we’ve been told that all money that is changed should go through our attorney in order to ensure that we are covered and there is no risk of us being accused of “buying a baby”. So you may want to check the laws in your state and talk with your adoption professional whether that be an atttorney or agnecy to make sure everything is covered.
Personally, I have had one experience with someone who asked for $10,000 plus expenses. She was having her 7th baby and said they couldn’t afford to keep it. She was due in 3 months and she offered that we could pay them monthly, but a lump sum would work better for them. We were shocked and I asked what these expenses were for and she said rent, utilities and other living expenses. I felt that was really high so when I asked about that she said, well, my husband is working and we have 4 kids at home and so we have a big house and I”m a stay at home mom so we need the money. When I told her we weren’t comfortable with that because we felt we were “buying a baby” she stopped talking with us. That was an extreme case, I feel.
As for what we are comortable with, I think Idaho has it right. While we understand that there are many people who need help they are going to an agency who can provide them with assistance. The agencies, I feel, should be helping expectant mothers with finding the assitance that they need. I feel that there are many times when this doesn’t happen and instead they say “we will have the adoptve parents pay for that” I feel this is a dis-service because if they helped with getting them set up with the assistance that they needed while they were pregnant then they would be in a good place and set up with some assitance to help them move forward no matter what their decision after the pregnancy is over. Then the adoptive parents don’t end up with expenses that they’ve paid for and just lose the money if they go home empty handed, too. I personally feel that the agency fee should cover those expenses, especially since they can help the expectant mother get assistance through the state. I mean technically if a person is on state assistance then as a taxpayer I am supporting her financially.
We decided to use an attorney because I couldn’t figure out what I was really paying the agency for. They were wanting $10,000 once the baby was born plus living expenses, plus medical, plus counseling costs. So what was they fee for? Well, it was for the marketing costs and their staff, but when it comes down to it they are advising their clients to market themselves by using facebook, websites, etc in order to get the word out that they are looking to adopt. To us we felt like why would we pay for what they are telling us to do?
I think the hard part about expenses is that there is no doubt that there are women out there who need that but the view of those hoping to adopt is that they are desperate and will spend anything in order to have the family. Well, to some extent that is true, we will spend as much as we can, but this isn’t the same as if we were pregnant. I don’t get to use my medical insurance that I pay for each month and if the expectant mother doesn’t have any then I am expected to pay in full for that. I feel that at some point, maybe after the birthparents sign or the adotpion is final (i’m just brainstorming here) my insurance should pay those maternity expenses as if I had been pregnant. Sure I can put the infant on my insurance after it is born, but why not the maternity?
We are constantly being told that there are so many children out there who need homes. Well, there are so many people out there who would love to give them homes but financially cannot afford the adoption process.
So now that I’ve given a long drawn out answer I’ll sum it up with personally I think there are a few things that are reasonable to pay for like medical but what it comes down to is choosing adoption is not a way out of money troubles and in todays society there is a lot of assitance out there that can be utilized whether the person chooses to parent or not.
I would never give cash or a visa card directly to a person, I’d go through my adoption professional to ensure everything is covered legally and the less money that changes hands the less negative either side will feel later. This is an emotional process for everyone involved and I believe that you are right Takes_a_village, adoptive families need to be protected too so a repayment would be good. Personally, i think putting back on the taxpayers isn’t right, we all need to take our own responsibility and an expenctant parent has every (and I stress EVERY) right to choose to keep the baby in her arms but if a bunch of money has been given then some sort of repayment is reasonable. Considering, many of those adopting are using their life savings and may not be able to try again. I also think that agencies shouldn’t be able to keep the money if an adoption isn’t finalized but that is a whole other topic!
Please remember everything said in this post is my opinion and I don’t mean to upset anyone with what I have said.
What is came down to is I learned a lot about what is in my head and how I am feeling about the idea of paying for expenses and how I feel like we (adoptive parents) are viewed as those who are desperate and will do/pay anything. Well, Ethan and I have morals and ethically (and financially) could not pay whatever is requested of us and I feel VERY good about Idaho’s laws.
I have been thinking a lot lately about the laws and the whole adoption process. I just might have to start changing things!