Following an adoption order (the final legal rubber stamp), adoptive parents are then responsible for the child (or children). This includes the financial responsibility for the child moving forwards.
Bringing up children is a costly exercise! Research has shown that he costs of raising a child from birth to 18 are well in excess of £200,000 which is a daunting prospect to take on, especially when considered as a ‘whole’. However, the financial burden of raising a child should not put you off adoption. A realistic and honest appraisal of how much its costs should be undertaken instead.
The Cost of the Adoption Process
Before looking at long-term costs, let’s examine the adoption process itself.
Firstly, if you are adopting a child within the UK, for example through Adopters for Adoption, you should feel confident that this is a non-profit making process. In fact, it is illegal for UK adoption agencies to make any profit.
However, there are some costs, prior to adoption, which you need to consider. Most of these are indirect costs. For example, while some degree of flexibility by your chosen agency should be expected, there are times you may need to take time off work for assessments or meetings. Additionally, there may be costs associated with court fees and a police check.
Your chosen agency should be able to explain these costs and time requirements to you clearly.
In addition to the regular costs involved in raising a child, adoptive parents can find themselves facing higher costs in some areas. It’s important to be aware of these and the help that you may get.
Adopted children may face additional challenges which increase the costs involved. Many of these difficulties, for example, therapeutic needs, disability assistance or educational support, will stem from before their adoption. Therefore, various methods of financial assistance are offered in these situations.
It should also be remembered that adoptive parents are eligible to apply for benefits in the same way as a birth family. For example, you will now be able to apply for Child Benefit, Disability Living Allowance, or Universal Credit.
The agency through which the adoption has been arranged should be able to direct you to the correct financial assistance. Adopters for Adoption (through their parent company, the Core Assets Group), has a broad and national base of support available. For example, for adopters with a disabled child, it may be possible to arrange respite care.
Other sources of financial assistance include:
- The Adoption Support Fund:
The Adoption Support Fund (ASF) helps to financially support therapeutic service and support for family’s post-adoption up to the age of 21 (or 25 with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education Health & Care Plan) for families in England. The local authority is responsible for assessing the family’s needs and an application for funding can be made in advance of the adoption becoming final.
- Adoption Leave and Pay:
Adoptive parents who are in employment may be entitled to statutory adoption leave and pay to enable them to take time off when the child moves in with, similar to the pay and leave that birth parents are able to access. You can find out more about your legal entitlement here.
- Adoption Allowance:
In some circumstances, regular financial support is available due to the Adoption Support Services (Local Authorities) Regulations 2005. This is a means-tested allowance and the amount paid is determined by the placing local authority. This can be paid weekly, monthly or in lump sums.
- Settling-in Grant:
Your social worker can point you in the direction of how to apply for a settling-in grant to assist with the immediate set-up costs of bringing your child home, for example large bedroom furniture or car seats. It is a discretionary fund though.