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This story originally appeared on NerdWallet
Sarah Bailey's adoption experience began in 2013 when she contacted an adoption placement agency and paid fees for a parenting course and advertising to birth mothers for a year.
In 2014, and still without a successful adoption, Bailey began paying a monthly advertising fee of $ 340 every time an adoption failed.
"I wasn't expecting the monthly fee," says Bailey, a mental health program director for Indianapolis. As spending continued into the second year of an expected year-long process, Bailey became discouraged.
“For me there was a point where I almost gave up,” she says.
She insisted, and by 2015, Bailey had paid over $ 22,000 to adopt her son.
The cost of adoption by a private agency can range from $ 20,000 to $ 45,000, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service provided by the Children's Office of the Federal Office of Administration for Children and Families.
The price may include legal fees, home study to check the security of your home, and advice.
However, adoption may include unplanned costs – such as living expenses and hospital expenses for the birth mother during pregnancy – that vary by agency, state, and adoption period.
To manage costs, experts recommend families plan ahead and use a variety of types of funding, from raising funds to borrowing. Here are strategies that you should consider.
Start with a plan
When you work with an adoption agency, you usually get a list of costs before you apply, says Blake Jones, adoptive parent, certified financial planner, and founder of Pomegranate Financial, a Utah-based financial planning firm.
Use this information to help create a schedule of what expenses you will have over the next six to 18 months before signing the application for adoption, he says.
Then, look at the financial resources you have access to – savings, home equity, grants – and align your existing resources if necessary, advises Jones.
Building your savings is the best option, says Marta Shen, a certified financial planner at Spring Street Financial of Raymond James in Atlanta and an adoptive parent who advises clients on managing adoption costs. Paying back a loan on top of new parenting expenses like childcare can be financially stressful, she says.
Ask others for help
During her adoption process, Bailey reached out to her community to raise funds.
“I bought a puzzle and sold pieces so that people could be part of my child's life,” she says. For "everyone who bought one, I put their name on the back".
The finished puzzle is in her now 6-year-old son's room – a reminder of everyone who helped connect them in 2015.
Aaron Johnson, a father of two adopted children from Orlando, Florida, also raised funds for his first adoption in 2017. Johnson raised over $ 10,000.
"We did a GoFundMe on social media, so a lot of our friends, church members, and other family members donated to it," said Johnson, who since adoption has started a nonprofit that gives grants to help other black families adopt Helping children.
Applying for an adoption grant
An adoption grant – money that does not have to be repaid – is another way to finance adoption. Helpusadopt.org and the Gift of Adoption Fund offer grants to help cover adoption costs.
With organizations like these, you need to review deadlines and eligibility requirements such as parental status and financial need. When submitting the application, you may be required to pay a fee, provide references, and provide evidence of approved home study.
Consider a HELOC
A home equity line of credit provides access to cash based on the value of your home. It allows you to withdraw money and repay it monthly. It's more flexible than a loan, Shen says.
Some people prefer a fixed amount that they know they have to pay back, like a one-time lump sum on a personal loan, Shen says, while others are okay with a HELOC's revolving credit line. If parents aren't sure how much they will need upfront, a HELOC may be a better option.
Personal loans can be the last resort
When fundraising isn't enough, you're not eligible for a scholarship, or don't own a home, a personal loan may be worth considering. High credit borrowers can qualify for interest rates between 12% and 17%.
Before taking out a loan, make sure that the monthly payments comfortably fit your budget.
Shen advises customers to avoid too many financial obligations that can weigh on a new family.
This article was written by NerdWallet and originally published by The Associated Press.
Chanell Alexander writes for NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com.