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    “I Didn’t Adopt for the Money”: Foster Care Adoption Subsidies

    Dawn Davenport

    Negotiating for Subsidy for Foster Care Adoption

    Negotiating for a foster care adoption subsidy can make adoptive parents feel uncomfortable. Did you ever wonder why?

    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.


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    Other resources to use to determine what is reasonable in your state and how to negotiate include:

    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 adoption.assistance@nacac.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

    25/07/2013 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 10 Comments

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    10 Responses to “I Didn’t Adopt for the Money”: Foster Care Adoption Subsidies

    1. Kimberly Bock Kimberly Bock says:

      I took it for my kids. A lot has happened to them and I am going to use it for them so that they do not enter the system again and fly well some day. If it was my pay… it is like $1.00 per hour per child… and I am sorry… I do not come that cheep. When you see the out of pocket cost for therapy and assessments… you get over a subsidy check quick, one of our son’s bills was $1500+ for a mandatory assessment.

    2. linda j klein says:

      I adopted two boys that are now 11 and 13. when I received them they were 6.3 months and 9.2 months old. they have been with me everyday since those times. I have been unable to get ant kind of assistance for them at all. my 13 yr old is odd, adhd, asthmatic, developmentaly delayed, physically impaired, aspergers, and mild tourettes. we have applied to ssi on four occasions and been denied each time, even with attorney. reason for denials I did not adopt from foster, the boys were left behind by the parents and I was given custody of them. they were never fostered. how can this be different in such a way as to not be able to get assistance for them??? I cover everythiong for thewm they do have Medicaid and food stamps but nothing else. would you be able to explain to me why this does not fall under some kind od assistance for them???

    3. Mary says:

      Great article. I am advocating aggressively for my two nephews to get a subsidy. My sense is that there is even more “eye rolling” by social services when the person advocating is family. I had never planned on having children and I find myself now adopting my 7 and 8 year old nephews. When I explained I would be leaving them on the state medical plan I was given an “eye-roll”, right at my own kitchen table. Every penny that I can save will allow me to give them more. I haven’t had time to plan and save for their future (college for example). I also enrolled them in a private school that focuses on the whole child, it is a very nurturing environment and is helping them enormously after they have suffered significant trauma. It’s a long story but I am not embarrassed to be fighting for them. In fact, I want to bring to light the fact that the system acts as though they are doing us a favor. Foster care is underfunded (there was a recent case in Massachusetts where a young boy disappeared, the case worker had lied and said she had visited the home monthly when in fact she hadn’t and it turned out the boy had been missing since Sept). The foster system does not advocate for proper funding (shame on them for not being stronger and demanding more). When I look at real government spending waste I get inspired to push them. When there is so much waste on frivolous government spending and then foster parents have to beg to get financial assistance something is really wrong. the next time you hear any politician (Left or Right) brush off wasteful spending with some comment like “it’s under 1% of the overall budget” keep in mind whatever wasteful spending they are talking about may seem “minor” but it’s money that should be spent elsewhere, in the foster care system for example.

    4. Eliz Frank says:

      I’m glad you touched on the subject of financial subsidies, and how important it is for adoptive parents to be proactive in asking for what their kids need. It is a demanding responsibility and shying away is not the best approach. I’m always baffled when I hear people claim that folk do it just for the money. I believe the majority foster kids because they care.
      Elizabeth via ICLW

    5. Kimberly, you are so right!!!!

    6. Subsidies vary widely from state to state. NACAC has great resources on the subject.

    7. Can anyone share their stories of negotiating for an adoption subsidy when adopting from foster care?

    8. Michelle, you are right, NACAC is a great resources. Josh Kroll, from NACAC, was on the panel of this week’s Creating a Family show on Adoption Subsidies for Foster Care Adoption. I also included links to specific resources in my blog.

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