Hands down - this is the most common questions I am asked, and it's a very fair question. If there are so many orphans in the world - how can it be so difficult and so expensive?
Basically, it all boils down to protecting the child.
Back in the day, anyone could walk into an agency and walk out with a baby in their arms 15 minutes later. The process was very basic and informal. Perhaps just a signature and you were off. While it is likely that most of these families provided a safe, loving home - some didn't. I'm sure you've heard the stories (similar situations in foster homes as well). Some children were basically enslaved, others abused and even murdered. When international adoption started to become popular... child trafficking for adoption purposes started.
In an effort to protect these children, many safeguards and policies have been implemented. To ensure that we are good parents, healthy, and have the means to support a child. To ensure that no child is kidnapped and trafficked for adoption purposes, and no money exchanges hands for a child. Believe it or not, it happens all the time. More commonly found in popular programs with large wait lists. Which is one reason we feel good about the Kenya program. With a residency requirement, not very many people do adopt from here... and the 'available' children far outnumber the families available to adopt.
Here are the fees that we have paid so far, and ones that will be come due soon.
$3500 for our Homestudy Fee. This takes 5 months and includes several interviews and home visits with a Social Worker, several adoption education classes with the end result of a very large document describing you right down to the colour of your underwear. These fees are used to pay our Social Worker and the Agency Staff members.
$275 - for our Biometric fingerprinting, proving we are not criminals.
$300 - Standard Criminal record checks.
$50 - Medical records
$75 - Notary fees to our Lawyer
$250 - Citizenship part A
$160 - to pay for our telephone conference adoption education.
$1500 - fee to transfer Agencies paid to new agency. (We needed to change agencies in order to adopt from Kenya.)
$4250. Which we just paid last week. Dossier fee:
Break down: $3000 to our local agency and $1250 to our Kenya agency. An extraordinary amount of work
is required to pull all the pieces together for an international adoption. Agencies facilitate every aspect of an adoption including identifying a child, completing the orphan investigations, obtaining medical information for a child, preparing the dossier, filing for court, etc. Our Kenyan agency has even offered to help us locate accommodation, pick us up from the airport etc.
The next set of fees are payable upon referral. Referral is when we will get the picture and information of our child(ren).
Local agency fee - $3000
Africa Development Fund - $2000
Kenya agency fee -$1250
Guardian ship fee (while in Kenya) - $375
Orphanage Assistance Fee - $1500 USD (this is to pay for the care provided to our child)
Lawyer fees in Kenya - $3200
Please - note to all this may affect - the fee structure was just revised/increased in Sept. 11.
In addition to the fees, other costs associated with adoption is the airfare - $8000
...and living expenses while we are there. (to live modestly in a safe neighborhood) - $16,000. Now I know this is also something that has shocked you. It's poverty stricken Africa! - how can it cost so much to live there!? Well this is Nairobi... Not only the capital of Kenya, but also the largest city in Kenya. It is also the regional capital of Eastern Africa where many organizations base their offices out of. The Canadian embassy here looks after 12 countries in Africa! Therefore, Nairobi has a large population of middle class expats and locals. Picture shopping malls, movie theatres, sky scrapers, nice restaurants...
Sure, there are a significant number of very poor people too. Slums etc. There are many low cost rentals locations, but you would not want to rent there. We have been advised by our agencies and fellow adopted parents before us to live in the 'white' (I know... not all Expats are 'white') communities for our own safety- especially with consideration for the upcoming elections in December. I'm sure you can agree, that jeopardizing the safety of our children is out of the question. If I have to pay an extra $500 to rent in a safe, gated community - I will.
The average rent for a 3 bdrm house in a safe community is $1300-$1500/ month. Furnished - but no frills. This price is absolutely inflated because there is so much demand from the sheer number of expats that populate Nairobi. Unfortunately, we can't work there either, (but we will be volunteering with an orphanage) but hope that we can do some renovation work in exchange for some rent etc. We'll see.... I'm putting feelers out there...
Here is a common apartment rental example that is currently advertised for rent in what would be considered a cheaper expat neighborhood:
3 bedrooms, 1 bath, furnished... for $1490.00 Canadian!
Here are some photos of Nairobi:
And the flip side: