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How much does it cost to adopt a child and what benefits am I entitled to?

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Trying to understand the costs involved in having kids can be a minefield at the best of times - but throw in the extra considerations of the adoption process, coupled with the relative lack of guidance and you might just find yourself completely baffled.

How much does it cost to adopt?

In terms of the adoption process itself, if you’re adopting in the UK an agency can’t charge you a fee for arranging the adoption of a child. However, there might be some other costs involved, like court fees or a charge for a police check. When you contact the agency (or agencies) you can ask them for a bit more information on the costs that might crop up, and if they might be able to help with any of them. 

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If you’re adopting a child from another country, unfortunately, the cost of the process will be much higher. Unlike adopting from within the UK, anyone wishing to adopt a child from abroad must pay for the assessment process themselves. The Intercountry Adoption Centre states that this is generally in the region of £12,000-£25,000. You’ll also have various travel costs to cover along the way. 

Once you’ve successfully adopted the child, the costs don’t end there - you’ll now have a new child or baby in your household to care and pay for! If you’re adopting a baby, take a look at our handy baby cost calculator to help you estimate costs. Regardless of the child’s age you’ll need to think of all sorts of new additional costs that will crop up – ranging from food, childcare, clothing and utility bills (don’t forget that an extra person in your home can mean higher bills, generally) to smaller but reoccurring costs like buying birthday presents or paying for school trips. 

What about if I want to adopt my foster child?

If you’re thinking of adopting a child you already foster, you’ll just need to follow the usual UK adoption process. In terms of any additional costs, you’re lucky in that you should have a good idea of the costs of raising them already, however, don’t forget that you would lose the money you were earning through being a foster parent.

Am I entitled to maternity, paternity or adoption leave?

Adoption pay and leave entitlements for adoptive parents are similar to the pay and leave rights available to birth parents. If you’re working when your adopted child joins your family, you’ll usually be entitled to paid time off work known as Statutory Adoption Pay and Leave

If you’re adopting as a couple, only one person will be able to get adoption leave, although the other parent might be able to get shared parental leave or paternity leave If you’re adopting a child through surrogacy, you might be entitled to 52 weeks leave from work. 

Some companies have more generous adoption leave schemes for their employees than others, so be sure to check your employment contract or staff handbook for details. Find more detailed information about adoption pay and leave

How much is statutory adoption pay?

If you are taking adoption leave through your employer, you‘ll be entitled to statutory adoption pay. As with maternity pay, the amount you’re entitled to will decline with time.

  • First six weeks: 90% of your average weekly earnings before tax.
  • The next 33 weeks: £151.97 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less).
  • The next 13 weeks: unpaid.

Am I entitled to adoption pay if I’m self-employed?

Unfortunately not. People who are self-employed are currently not entitled to any adoption pay. 

What is the adoption support fund?

The adoption support fund provides funds to local authorities and regional adoption agencies to pay for essential therapeutic services for adoptive families who qualify. It can pay for services that help the adopted child with things like improved relationships with friends, family members, teachers and school staff or improved engagement with learning, amongst many other things.

It’s available for children living in England up to and including the age of 21 (or 25 with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education Health & Care Plan) who:

  • are adopted and were previously in local authority care in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • are adopted from overseas
  • are subject to a Special Guardianship Order and were previously in care. 

What is adoption allowance, how much is it and is it means tested? 

A local authority might pay this if they determine it necessary to secure an adoptive home for a child, who could not otherwise easily be readily adopted. The scheme allows for the payment of a regular allowance or lumps sums to adopters under certain circumstances. These could include where the child has additional needs, requires special care for a disability or behavioural difficulties involving extra expense or to make an adoption possible with existing foster parents who the child has a strong bond with. 

The amount of money offered as an adoption allowance will vary and any allowance will usually take into account your financial resources as a family. This might include any other allowance or benefit received by you, as well as your reasonable outgoings and the financial needs of the child. Contact your local authority to find out more about this allowance in your area.

Is there any other form of financial help available?

As well as the above, there are a few additional types of funding to help adopted children to thrive. Some are discretionary and paid to the parent, while some are in the form of extra money given to schools to help adopted children reach their full potential in their education setting. 

  • Settling in grants: you might be eligible for a settling in grant to help with the cost of large items like a bed or car seat. This grant is discretionary – your social worker can tell you how to apply for it. 
  • Pupil premium paid to your adopted child’s school or pre-school: £302 of extra funding for every adopted 3 and 4-year-old in early years education and £2345* of extra funding for state-funded schools to help meet each adopted child’s educational needs.
  • Discretionary Housing payments: while waiting for your child to be placed with you.

*Source: GOV.UK

See First4Adoption’s website for more information on the above types of financial support, as well as other helpful advice to those considering adoption. 

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