Recently, I've seen paying expenses being questioned and discussed on several adoption Facebook groups. Here's how we feel (and why):
We do not pay expenses.
(When I say expenses, I mean rent, utility bills, car payments, cell phone bills, clothing, etc.)
First, paying expenses, no matter how you want to phrase it, is putting a "tit for tat" expectation on the situation. "Tit for tat" is also known as "baby for money." To me, paying expenses is baby-buying. Or the expectation that when the prospective parents pay expenses, the end-result will be the placement of a baby. Paying expenses isn't and cannot possibly be solely done by the prospective parents out of the kindness of their hearts/out of compassion for the mom, because there is still the "tat" (the baby) that the couple hopes to adopt.
Second, paying expenses, no matter how ethical the prospective parents are, puts pressure on the expectant mother to place her baby. The mom may feel guilty or obligated, so she places even when she doesn't really want to or has doubts that the couple she's matched with are the right parents for her child.
Third, paying expenses is incredibly financially risky, and in my opinion, financially irresponsible. I have known several families who pay thousands of dollars in expenses, all non-refundable, of course, and do not end up with a placement. Of course, the baby's mother has EVERY right not to place her child for any reason. There are situations where the mother never intended to place or chooses to place in order to temporarily have her expenses paid. There are also situations where the mother is genuinely intending to place. No matter what, prospective parents take on a great financial risk by agreeing to pay expenses. I've known couples who have lost every drop of their life savings to paying expenses.
Okay, so you have all these issues with paying expenses, but what am I supposed to do? Seems like every agency and attorney demands that we consider paying expenses. This is what adoptive parents need to do these days, they proclaim.
First, find an adoption agency, if you can, that doesn't require you to pay any expenses. (this is what we did.) If you deem them an ethical agency, utilize them! This agency likely hooks expectant moms up with free resources (public housing, for example, and food stamps). I do understand that public aid is not easy (or quick) to get. In this case, continue to my next point...
Second, use an agency that has a pooled fund for expectant parent expenses. Some agencies require all their waiting families to contribute a certain dollar amount to a fund used for ANY expectant parents who need it (not specific expectant parents). But of course, make sure this is an amount you can afford and are comfortable with. A few thousand dollars is acceptable and normal.
Third, wait with an ethical agency/attorney, but make it clear you won't pay expenses, or if you can pay some expenses, which ones you are comfortable paying and up to what dollar amount. This may very well mean you will wait longer, but in my opinion, a good agency or attorney won't lure in expectant mothers (to make an adoption plan) but offering to pay expenses (ahem, return to my very first point on "tit for tat").
Fourth, always act ethically, no matter what. Make it clear to a mom you are matched with that in no way to you demand that she place her baby with you. You are here to love and support her NO MATTER WHAT SHE DECIDES. Pray for the mom and her circumstances. Pray for her unborn baby. Pray for the baby's father. Pray that this mom has the courage to do what is best in her situation for her child. I will not, nor will I ever, pray a mother gives her baby to me. If and until she places, it is HER baby, HER decision, and HER right to do as she chooses.
Overall, my feelings are this: We are talking about human beings. The choices we make have forever-consequences (good or bad) and outcomes. We cannot reduce a child to a dollar amount, we shouldn't "buy" the allegiance of an expectant mother, and we certainly shouldn't use our finances to manipulate others. Because no matter where your heart is, if you are waiting to adopt, to some degree, you are hoping for the end result of your journey to be the placement of a child. By not paying expenses, or by greatly limiting how you pay expenses, you are choosing to truly put expectant moms and unborn babies above your own desires to become a mom or dad.