“I Didn’t Adopt for the Money”: Foster Care Adoption Subsidies
Talking about money and adoption makes a lot of people queasy. How much will the adoption cost? Will it be faster or easier if we have more money? How much is too much to pay for an adoption. While these topics are often freely, if squeamishly, talked about, it seems harder for many parents to discuss negotiating for adoption subsidies for children adopted from foster care. As one mom told me, “I don’t want people to think I’m doing it for the money”.
Not In It For the Money
Discussing money, especially when you are on the receiving, rather than paying, end feels unseemly to many people in any circumstance. My grandmother always said that polite people don’t discuss religion or money outside the family. (She would have added “sex”, except I’m pretty sure she was against talking about that even within the family.)
Negotiating for money is even harder for most folks, whether it’s asking for a raise or asking for payment for services rendered. Case in point: all four of my teens have accepted summer jobs without first asking how much they would be paid. Although on one level I was flabbergasted, I understood their hesitancy. For some reason it is embarrassing.
Negotiating for money is especially uncomfortable when it is in relation to our children. No parent wants anyone to think that they adopted for the money. And while some social service case workers may try to make people feel uncomfortable, I think most people bring it on themselves.
How Much Adoption Subsidy is Fair
Another reason people hate the thought of negotiating an adoption assistance grant from foster care is that they have no way of knowing what is fair, other than the foster care payment. Some states automatically offer the same payment they made for foster care, although most do not. States consider different factors when calculating an amount, but it is supposed to be based on the child’s need. To understand better how subsidies are calculated listen to this one hour Creating a Family show on Adoption Subsidies and Benefits When Adopting from Foster Care. You can also download it to your phone, tablet or iPod.
Other resources to use to determine what is reasonable in your state and how to negotiate include:
- Chart comparing states for specific adoption subsidy benefits offered, including the maximum monthly adoption assistance offered (not necessarily up to date, but gives you an idea).
- State by state adoption subsidy profiles
- A one hour Creating a Family podcast on Adoption Subsidies for Foster Care Adoptions: What is Reasonable and How to Negotiate
The first two resources are from the great folks at North American Council on Adoptable Children. One of the guest on yesterday’s Creating a Family was Josh Kroll, head of NACAC’s Adoption Subsidy Resource Center, and he’s available to answer questions by phone or email at 800-470-6665 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get Over It
Not to be too blunt, but get over your discomfort. You are not begging for money. You are not even asking for money for yourself. Your mindset needs to be that you are advocating for your child. Your child may need services; services cost money; this money will make it more likely that your child will get whatever support they may need.
Foster care adoptions save the state money since it costs the foster care system more money to raise children in foster care than it costs them in adoption assistance payments to adoptive parents. (To say nothing of the fact that it’s far better for children to be raised in a home with forever parents than in a foster home.) The key is to know what your child is entitled to and to negotiate for a fair adoption subsidy.
Did you negotiate for your adoption subsidy or just accept what was offered? Did you feel a little squeamish?
Image credit: Glikò