Adoption assistance (formerly called a subsidy) is a payment or resource to adoptive parents to help them meet the financial demands of caring for an adopted child's special needs.
Here is a basic guide to adoption assistance:
- Do not finalize an adoption of a child from foster care until you have a subsidy agreement in writing from the child's agency!
- There are government-sponsored subsidies to help cover the costs of an adopted child's physical, medical, therapeutic, and educational needs.
- Most assistance is based on the needs of the adopted child regardless of the family's financial resources; however, those resources will be considered when determining the amount of the subsidy.
- Many children waiting in foster care (children with special needs) are eligible for adoption assistance.
- Assistance can be short-term last until the adopted child reaches maturity (age 18 or 21) depending on the state's requirements.
- Assistance can come from local, state, or federal funds.
- Subsidies may be available to waiting children who do not qualify for Title IV-E benefits.
- An adopting family must apply for the assistance through their county or private agency social worker. It will be processed through the State Department of Human Services. All adoption assistance agreements should be signed before the adoption is finalized.
- Obtaining adoption assistance after finalization is very difficult; however, it is possible to request assistance retroactively and you have the ability to appeal a negative decision.
- The Adoption Exchange urges you to ask your social worker about available subsidies when adopting any child with special physical, mental, medical, and emotional needs.
Other Financial Assistance
Some other sources of financial assistance for adoptive families are listed below:
Reimbursement of Nonrecurring Adoption Expenses in Your State
Reasonable and necessary adoption-related expenses (as defined by the state) may be reimbursed to the adopting family of a child who meets the state's criteria for eligibility on a one-time basis per child. In order for an adoptive family to be eligible for reimbursement, the state must determine that:
1. The child should not/cannot be returned to the home of the birth parents.
2. There exists a specific factor or condition such as age, membership in a sibling group, presence of physical, mental, or emotional challenges that make it reasonable to conclude that the child cannot be placed with adoptive parents without providing adoption assistance. For this to occur, the family must receive prior approval for the expenses from their state agency.
3. The request for reimbursement must be made prior to the finalization of adoption.
Qualifying expenses may include:
- The cost of the home study inclusive of health and psychological examinations.
- Court costs and attorney fees.
- Reasonable costs for transportation, food, and lodging for the child and/or the adoptive parents when necessary to complete placement.
- Home modifications to accommodate a disability.
Reimbursement information for each of the Adoption Exchange’s eight member states:
- Colorado - maximum of $800 per child
- Missouri - maximum of $2,000 per child
- Nevada - maximum of $250 per child
- New Mexico - maximum of $2,000 per child
- Oklahoma - maximum of $1,200 per child (up to $2,000 on a case-by-case basis)
- South Dakota - maximum of $1,500 per child
- Utah - maximum of $2,000 per child
- Wyoming - maximum of $2,000 per child
Federal Adoption Tax Credit
- For more information or information on other states, please refer to the Child Welfare Information Gateway
Employee Benefits Program
Some employers provide an employee benefit program for adoptive parents. Check with your employer to see if there is one available for you.
Special Subsidies for Adoptive Families in the Military
The National Military Family Association has more information on adoption by military families.
Adoption Loans and Grants
The National Adoption Foundation provides a variety of financial support opportunities to adoptive families to help defray the cost of adoption.
For more information on what types of loans might be available to you, talk to your bank or credit union.