In the adoption process, living expenses are things that are legally allowed to be paid to an expecting mom while she’s pregnant, and oftentimes up to six weeks afterwards, to help her get back on her feet after she’s made an adoption plan. This timeframe is specific to Kansas and Missouri, however, each state has very different requirements for living expenses.
I recently received an email from a family who joined our program regarding how much they felt they could financially afford to help an expecting mom with living expenses. They heard from a number of sources that it isn’t always a good idea to pay for an expecting parent’s expenses as it adds a feeling of debt on behalf of the expecting parents. The fear is that the expecting parents may feel they owe the adopting parents and it would be difficult if the expecting mom decided to parent her child after all. Another fear is that it would also be hard on the adopting family if the expecting mom chooses not to place after they had helped the expecting mom financially while pregnant.
I personally have never had this experience. There was never a time in my career when an expecting mom felt obligated to place her child because living expenses were being paid by the adopting family. Our moms know and are told specifically that receiving living expenses and help does not obligate them to place their child for adoption. They understand that these expenses are allowed and that it’s not tied to whether they place or not.
Often when a mom is considering placing her child for adoption, it has a lot to do with the fact that she’s financially struggling, which is why it’s not expected of her to have to pay for doctors’ visits, transportation, maternity clothes, or other such expenses. This is the purpose of living expenses and why they are allowed. They are available to help a woman carry her pregnancy through and also help her get back on her feet.
Of course, I’ve had moms receive living expenses and decide to parent because it’s their right to be able to do that. What’s important to know is that if she does decide to, that’s going to be hard in and of itself, regardless of whether living expenses were provided.
If a mother chooses to parent her child after all, any paid living expenses should be covered by the federal adoption tax credit. As of this blog post, there is a federal tax credit of just over $14,000, which is good whether or not an adoption was successful. If you do have a failed adoption, you can recoup any of the living expenses that you helped pay for through these federal adoption tax credit.
Additionally, expecting parents receive an attorney who will advocate for the expecting mom to make sure that her financial and emotional needs are being met while she is pregnant.
It’s good and common practice that living expenses are offered to the expecting mom. However, not all moms need them, and not all moms take them, although that’s probably more on the rare side. Therefore, preparing financially to budget for living expenses will be important as you start the adoption process.
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