Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Adoption and the Economy...

Sunday, 16 November 2008
Slowing economy may hamper adoptions Print
Ace Stryker - Daily Herald

Utah specialists say adoption rates have been resistant to economic turmoil but may begin to show wear in the coming months.
Private adoptions can be pricey, with most estimates falling between $15,000 and $25,000 for the average case. When looking at international adoptions, it jumps up between $20,000 and $40,000. Wendy Bunnell, an area representative for the Utah Foster Care Foundation, said she's seen a bump in the number of calls in recent months from families looking to offer temporary foster care, a much less expensive notion.

"People are realizing that adoption internationally is extremely expensive and almost impossible to do anymore," she said. "Private adoptions have increased in price considerably. I have had an increase of people who are willing to look at adoption through foster care."

Bunnell said she's even heard from people looking to supplement their income through foster care reimbursements -- typically between $450 and $650 a month -- but cautions against that.

"That really isn't enough for a family to really provide all the basic needs," she said.

There's also been a leap in the number of kids needing a foster home, Bunnell said, from 445 last year to more than 520 this year. Most of those are because of court orders related to abuse or neglect, she said.

"I can speculate that it probably has something to do with [the economy]," she said.

Private market representatives say they've seen less of a change, but haven't written off the nation's financial situation yet.

"We might see a trend -- not that affects the adoptive couples so much -- but that affects women with unplanned pregnancies," said Shanna Bake, a program specialist with LDS Family Services, the nation's largest domestic adoption service. "They're going to be more likely to feel financial pressure and more likely to view adoption as a positive option."

Bake conceded that her organization, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, isn't typical because of its pricing structure: Adoption costs 10 percent of parents' annual income up to a maximum of $10,000. In fact, her organization has a waiting list for parents about 2,000 strong.

The Adoption Center of Choice in Orem represents a more conventional adoption agency pricing model. Executive Director Melissa Williams said she does just under 100 adoptions a year and hasn't noticed a significant drop-off in business, but she's keeping her eyes open. For the most part, these trends are pretty hard to predict, she said.

"I remember hearing that after 9/11 we had more placements than we've ever had," she said. "We just let this thing happen. We feel like these babies go where they're supposed to go."

Williams said an available IRS tax credit of around $10,000 may help assuage some financial concerns. A mother of two adopted children, she said such concerns didn't stop her from adopting several years ago. She doubts it would stop many others. From a hopeful parent's perspective, love conquers all, she said.

"The economics of it were not an issue," she said. "I guess you just make adjustments depending on what your priorities are."

• Ace Stryker can be reached at 344-2556 or astryker@heraldextra.com.

1 comment:

Karen Nihipali Wicke said...

Adoption and the economy...that is kind of sad that those 2 words are in the same sentence. We are told to not worry about the money if we serve and follow the Savior. Everything will come to pass. I know this to be true.

We'll be an adoptive family soon so I can't focus on the economy, the kids won't know any difference.

 

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