Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kids Are Expensive!

I am part of several on-line adoption groups.  Sometimes, I hear and see things in there that concern me to the point that I feel the need to write about them.  (These groups are not specific to one organization, country or special need.)  

I cringe when I see people say "We have enough money to raise another child but we don't have ANY money to put toward the adoption process.  We can't take out a loan; we have nothing we can sell; we have no one we can borrow from."  If you are trying to raise every single penny for your adoption, have you thought about how you will pay for medical care for your new child?  

Now, I went into my adoption process pretty naive.  I knew I had extra money in my budget every month that I could put towards the adoption and then raising the child.  But, I had no idea how expensive children are and how expensive medical care is.   I am very healthy and go to the doctor once a year, at the most.  So, my entire health care costs were $25 a month for insurance and one $25 copay at the doctor.  My how things have changed!  (Just for the record, I am a teacher and have decent insurance---even if I whine about it all the time.)  

My daughter has Down syndrome but is incredibly healthy.  She hasn't been sick once in the six months she's been home.  A lot of kids that are adopted internationally are not so healthy.  Kids with special needs may require lots of specialists, equipment, medicines, formulas, surgeries, etc.  But, for the sake of argument, let's assume your child is healthy like mine.  

I am one of those people that like math.  I really do!  So, let's crunch some numbers on the health care costs for my healthy child who has been home for 6 months:

My insurance rate went from $25 a month to $280 a month.  (I went from a single plan to an employee plus one plan.)  

Initial pediatrician visit:  $25
Initial labs:  $80 (Thyroid, lead, CBC)
2 visits to the Eye Doctor, eye drops, and glasses:  $150 (With my eye insurance)
Cataract Surgeon visit:  $45
Developmental Pediatrician: $45
Check up at Cardiologist:  $45  (Thankfully, her heart is good and we don't have to go back.)
Down Syndrome clinic:  $45  (Probably not going back to that one.)  
Kindergarten shots at ped:  $25
Hearing check:  $45 (She failed the test at school.)

We still have upcoming visits to the dentist, hearing recheck, karyotype, and a c-spine.  (I'm guessing that costs another couple hundred dollars right there.)  

These are not monumental costs.  I totally get that!  These are costs for a child who has needed no medicine, no procedures, no surgeries, no major treatments.  These are all just initial costs to get things checked out and a pair of glasses.  Can you imagine if she needed heart surgery, hearing aides, cataract surgery, lots of visits to the pediatrician, on and on and on?  Lots of kids do need those things when they first come home.  Some of them need them for years to come!

I don't ever want to discourage people who are ready and qualified from adopting.  I also don't want to discourage people from adopting kids with special needs.  Adopting Sara was the best decision I've ever made.  But, I think that people need to be ready for the reality.

Adoption is incredibly expensive.  I don't have any issue with people who are working to fund raise part of the costs of their adoption.  (I could write another whole post about how fund raising is a verb and you have to DO something.)  My concern comes in with people who have to (or choose to) fund raise every single cent.  If you don't have any extra money in your monthly budget to pay for your adoption, how will you ever have any money in the budget to pay for your child's medical care?  (Don't even get me started on the clothes and shoes you have to buy when your child grows 3 inches and gains 9 pounds in 6 months.)  

Just something to think about.....

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