The True Cost of Adoption

Many never realize the complexity of the adoption process. It is something I have tried to explain to many families, only to later realize they don’t truly understand until the end of the process, if then. I tell all my families that adoption is hard; I even had “Adoption is not for the faint of heart” printed on the back of my business card. No single adoption is ever identical to the next. It can be compared to childbirth in that some will have an easy adoption with little pain or effort, while others may struggle and labor hard for the same outcome. I believe the end result is always worth it; however, it is important to recognize the ‘hidden’ costs of our time, our emotions, our comfort, and our expectations.


For most of us, when we start the adoption process our emotions begin to build as we imagine and fall in love with the fairytale of adoption and the child we will bring home. We dream of the child we want to rescue or the child that will complete our family. Our emotions dictate the story that we tell ourselves; one day it is happy endings and the next day it may be the horror story often portrayed by the media. The hopes and fears we allow ourselves to contemplate are what change our emotions even more than what actually ocurrs during the process. There are many highs and lows along the way. The cost of our emotions effects not only our daily state and stress levels but our health and relationships as well, if not successfully managed.


Time is required to gather seemingly countless documents, schedule fingerprints, attend doctors appointments, complete paperwork, etc. That is only a fraction of the time it takes to travel, complete the process in country, and bring our children home. Months, and sometimes even years, are invested in an adoption. The time required in country often determines if a family moves forward. Although we have countries where travel may not be a requirement, I want you to consider something; If I told you that in order for you to save the life of one of your loved ones, you would have to dedicate 4-6 weeks with them, isolated from all that is comfortable to you and the rest of your family and friends, what would you do? Most of us would not hesitate to sacrifice our time and comfort to save the life of the ones we love.


It is highly uncomfortable for most of us to write the initial check to begin our adoption, much less to hand over thousands of dollars later. Then there is the uncomfortable feeling of divulging our personal information to many along the adoption journey. Some other items that take us out of our comfort zone are fear of flying, travelling, being away from family and our home, not speaking the language, not understanding the culture, and more. For many this is a price too dear, another stumbling block of adoption.


Many times, our disappointments or unhappiness stem from the fact that our expectations were not met. Most families enter in to the process with high expectations and don’t expect reality to intervene. Unfortunately, life is full of reality. The reality of life is that not every adoption is successful, not every child wants to be adopted, not every child will be available, and not every family will finish their adoption in record time no matter how hard they try. The reality is that our children will not instantly behave the way we want or want what we want for them. The reality is that our adoption may not go as smoothly as we hoped, but MLJ Adoptions, Inc. is committed to helping you complete an international adoption even if it is not exactly what you expected. There are too many “realities” to list them all. The more balanced you can keep your expectations on the things that you can control, the easier the process will be on you, and the happier you will be in the long run.

Adding up the costs: Our time + our emotions + our comfort + our expectations + our money = our adoption. Part 2: Lydia shares her

Lydia Tarr works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptions’ programs in Bulgaria and Ukraine. She is the adoptive mother of four children from Ukraine and was recognized as a 2013 Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) Angels in Adoption Program.