How American Families Can Afford Adoption

June 17, 2015 in News by Stephen Gardner  |  No Comments

How American Families Can Afford Adoption

Domestic and international adoption can cost thousands of dollars, but grants, tax credits and fundraising can offset costs.


Each year, U.S. citizens adopt over 100,000 children, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway. Costs can range from very little for adopting a child from foster care to $40,000 or more for a private domestic adoption, says Nicole Witt, executive director of The Adoption Consultancy in Florida.


For families having difficulty conceiving, the cost of infertility treatments can also run into the tens of thousands of dollars or more, but adoption offers a key benefit that medicine doesn’t. “[Adoption is] always a roller coaster of ups and downs, but at the end of it you have a healthy baby,” says Lynne Fingerman, an adoptive mother and social worker who founded the San Francisco-based nonprofit Adoption Connection in 1985. “The infertility route doesn’t have that guarantee.”


Here’s a look at strategies that adoptive families use to cover costs.


Adoption tax credit. For 2014, the IRS gives adoptive parents a maximum adoption tax credit (to offset qualified adoption expenses such as legal fees and travel costs) of $13,190 per child, which phases out for modified adjusted gross incomes between $197,880 and $237,880. “If you adopt twins, then you can claim double the tax credit,” Witt says. “Or even if you have a [domestic adoption] situation that falls through, you can claim it towards the expenses that you’ve lost.” The credit cannot exceed your tax liability, but you can carry any excess credits into the following year. Consult your tax preparer if you’re unsure of how this applies to you.


Adoption grants. Jeremy Resmer and his wife raised over $47,000 so they can adopt twin girls from Congo debt-free, and about two-thirds of that money came from grants. (The Congolese government has put all adoptions on hold, so Resmer, his wife and their 3-year-old son are currently living in the Congo bonding with the girls and waiting for the adoption to finalize.) The pair did exhaustive research on adoption grants, and Resmer wrote and published an e-book called “Fund Your Adoption: A Step-By-Step Guide To Adopt Debt-Free.” “We had to look in a million different places to find all the grants,” he says. “Certain organizations … will only grant to you if you’re Christian or married, and sometimes income eligibility requirements will come in. Some organizations will only provide grants for domestic adoptions.” Because the application process can be time-intensive (collecting letters of recommendation or meeting with a pastor, for instance), the couple applied for 10 grants that they felt they most closely fit the award criteria, and also looked at grants with the highest award ranges. They were awarded six of them.


Not everyone will qualify for grants because some are income-based. However, a growing number of employers now offer adoption assistance. In fact, a 2012 Aon Hewitt survey of 1,000 major U.S. employers found that over half offered this benefit, compared to 12 percent in 1990. Fingerman says these benefits can range between $2,000 and $10,000 depending on the employer.


Loans. Sometimes people take a short-term loan to cover adoption costs and use their tax return (with the adoption tax credit) to repay the loan. “There are adoption loans out there, but I always tell my clients just because a loan has the word ‘adoption’ in front of it doesn’t mean it has most favorable terms,” Witt says. “Explore a general loan, home equity loan and see what the best terms are.” Not everyone has home equity they can borrow from, but Witt says having a line of credit ready to cover adoption expenses can be smart (so long as you’re realistic about what you can afford). “You don’t know exactly how much you’re going to need and when you’re going to need it,” she explains.


Some people also get a gift or interest-free loan from parents who want to be grandparents. “People sometimes have to travel to other parts of the country where the birth mother lives, so families have given them frequent flier miles or points to the Marriott,” Fingerman says.


Fundraising. Many people saving up for adoption take on a second job or plan fundraising events – Resmer did both. Friends, family and members of a religious community have long been a source of financial help for adoptive families, but online crowdfunding for adoption costs puts a 21st century twist on this tradition, which Witt says can be controversial. “On the one hand, it can be great because people love to help,” she says. On the other hand, some parents worry contributors could “say something inappropriate in front of the child about how they helped pay for them,” she says.


Witt has seen other families sell adoption T-shirts to friends and family members or temporarily rent out the room intended as a nursery for extra cash. Resmer’s family raised several thousand dollars through an adoption carnival hosted by a local church. “They had dunk tanks, carnival rides, all sorts of food and a bake sale,” he says. They also solicited donations from local businesses and held a silent auction at the carnival.


By tapping into all available resources, even moderate-income families have been able to make adoption a reality. “Most people who adopt don’t have $40,000 sitting in their bank account,” Witt says. “Most people I work with are typically middle-income families, and they find ways to make it happen.”


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Life In Berlin: Brown Bread

June 3, 2015 in News, Success Stories by Stephen Gardner  |  No Comments

Life In Berlin: Brown Bread

Brown Bread is a documentary about Sarah Gross’s childhood in a transracially adoptive family.   When six children from entirely different backgrounds are given the same last name there are bound to be questions of integration, discussions of race, and moments of disconnection.  But what is important to Sarah about her story

“I want to get past the details of my family. Of course I had a very strange and unique family, but actually all families are strange and unique. It matters because I think all families have crises and all families have to deal with identity issues. Certainly families that have adopted have to deal with more integration and identity issues and sharing and talking about it is the best way to start processing and thinking about how we want to be.

Sarah, who has lived in Berlin for many years, chose to show the film Brown Bread in Berlin for reasons beyond the convenience of staying within her own postal code:

“There is a lot of adoption going on here in Germany. There’s less domestic adoption, but there are a lot of international adoptions which immediately raises the issues of ethnic identity and what is a family anyway. Now I know quite a few people in Berlin who have adopted transracially and what that means for them. And is that normal? How do their kids feel in the schools? There’s certainly a very small minority compared to what you would find in an American society.”

It goes beyond questions of race and enters into the realm of learning to not just respect, but to understand those around us, and to redefine what we think of as a “traditional” family structure.

“Without wanting to wax too philosophical, I think the film is also about family in general and society in general. And we are all bumping up against people who are different from us in our cities and in our ways of defining who we are and where we belong. So I think it can also be a segue into that kind of a conversation as well.”

Members of the National Adoption and Foster Family Group in Germany will attend the screening of Brown Bread at the Taz. Sarah Gross will be there with the editor of the Taz newspaper.  Sarah hopes that there will be a conversation about adoption across cultures

“I have a friend who is white and has some children who are dark skinned and I feel that she is trying really hard to make it normal. And of course it’s normal. Every family is normal. But every family is also abnormal. It is going to be important to her children as they grow up to develop an ethnic identity.  Which is other than hers. It has to be. And the only way she can help them to become their full selves is to support that growth and development.”

Brown Bread is a film about family, about ethnic identity, and about how we define ourselves regardless of geographic locations or last names.  Sarah uses the medium of film to challenge what cultures think of as normal family structure and to address the ways in which that structure can evolve and diversify alongside our nations.

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Expert advice for making the adoption process smooth and enjoyable

February 4, 2014 in News by Stephen Gardner  |  No Comments
Let’s face it, beginning the adoption process is a daunting task. One quick internet search of “adoption” will quickly make your head spin and your wallet scream. But don’t fret. There are several ways to make your adoption process as smooth as possible.

Do find the best option for your family

Domestic adoption or international? Open or closed adoption? There are many questions you need to ask–and answer for yourself–before you can begin the adoption process. Your first task is to consider the kind of an adoption you want and where you want to adopt from.

Do be sure you are working with an appropriate and legal adoption professional

After you have decided on domestic or international adoption, find the right adoption professional. This individual will be able to guide you the rest of the way. Use word-of-mouth references, google searches and Better Business Bureau ratings as a guide. Having a knowledgeable and trustworthy adoption professional will make a big difference in your adoption journey.

Do get support

Join local adoption support groups, as well as online groups. Look for groups in your area through Adoptive Families magazine, Facebook, twitter and Support cannot come too soon. Adoptive parents who have been in your shoes will offer you an enormous amount of emotional support, as well as knowledge and education. These parents have been through the same process and can give you advice on exactly what to expect.

Do educate yourself

While you should use support groups to educate yourself on all things adoption, be sure that you are also reading. Visit information clearinghouses, such as and the Donaldson Institute, for the lastest adoption research. Adopting from abroad? Learn about the country, culture and language of your expected child. Adopting from the U.S.? Educate yourself on open adoption, relationships with birth parents and infant care. Be as prepared as possible for the arrival of your new addition.

Do be patient

Keep in mind that the process can take a long time. But after this period of waiting, you will be together as a family forever.

Do not believe everything you hear

The media, as well as your friends, enjoy sensationalism. Every time you hear about an adoption story in the news, it is bad news. However, the vast majority of adoptive families are typical. And there is nothing sensational about a typical family leading a typical life. Same household issues, same behaviors, same love. So forget the hype.

Do not use the wrong vocabulary

Words have meaning, especially in the world of adoption. Be careful with your terminology because it can be demeaning–even if you do not mean for it to be. For example, use “expectant parent” instead of “birth parent” when speaking about a parent who has not relinquished a child. A “birth parent” is only someone who has terminated rights already. Don’t say that a woman “gave up” her child, but rather that she “made an adoption plan” for the child.

Do not be dismayed at the cost

Yes, adoption is expensive, but you must think of the investment. People who adopt are primarily not independently wealthy, but they make it work. While the average adoption cost is $30,000, there is a $13,000 tax credit refunded to you as soon as you finalize your adoption. That is almost half of your costs. Fundraising is common in the adoption world, and almost every adoptive couple fundraises to pay for their adoption. Home equity loans, employer benefits and other lines of credit also come in handy. Remember that you are not paying for a child; rather, your are paying for the process.

Do not cut corners

Somewhere along your adoption journey, domestic or international, someone will likely offer you a way to cut a corner. For example, they will suggest that you pay a little extra and receive a faster referral, or sign up with a particular agency and they will ensure that the expectant woman signs for the adoption. But don’t do it. Ever. Cutting corners in adoptions always leads to activity that is both immoral and likely illegal. Using an adoption professional you trust will safeguard you against morally questionable practices.

Do not believe that adoption ends once you have a child in your arms

Adoption is something you will live everyday. Adoption means relationships with birth families and other cultures. Adoption will invade your child’s school life, friendships and romances. You will become seasoned at answering questions about your adoption and your relationship with your child.



The adoption process is complex, but it does not need to be scary. Trust your gut instincts, educate yourself and rely on support–even if you think you don’t need it. Relax and enjoy the process. The end result is the best gift of all.

Fertility Planit

December 3, 2013 in News by Stephen Gardner  |  No Comments

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Fox News Live

December 3, 2013 in News by Stephen Gardner  |  No Comments

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NBC News

December 3, 2013 in News by Stephen Gardner  |  No Comments

A study showed more parents are looking in the U.S. to adopt. The founder of Parent Match, Dr. Lori Barer Ingber, stops by Studio 5 to discuss how her new network is helping to make the process easier and faster.

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Let’s Talk Live

December 3, 2013 in News by Stephen Gardner  |  No Comments

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CBS News

November 15, 2013 in News by Stephen Gardner  |  No Comments

You’ve seen her on the network shows, now Lori Ingber joins us in-studio to tell us what to expect from the adoption process, and an organization that helps make it easier! For more information, visit
(Copyright 2012 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)


NJ Biz

November 15, 2013 in News by Stephen Gardner  |  No Comments

Lori Barer Ingber, founder of Parent Match, says her service will improve inter-communication between adoption agencies, improving the efficiency of the process.

Lori Barer Ingber knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur, but upon finishing up her Ph.D. in public health, she was still waiting for inspiration to strike.

“I knew I wanted to do something to really make my skills useful,” she said, “and I quite frankly wasn’t exactly sure what that was.”

She soon found her answer in a dramatic way.


Ingber’s sister and brother-in-law had been waiting for months to adopt a child, but the agency in their home state of Connecticut had yet to find a match. They expanded their search by signing with a second agency, in Florida, but to no avail.

One day Ingber, who adopted two of her four children from Korea, was surfing adoption-related sites on the Internet and came across something that didn’t make sense.

“I found out about a baby in Alabama who didn’t have parents,” she said. “The adoption agency had this baby and they had no available adoptive parents. We certainly didn’t believe that.”

Ingber passed the message to her sister, who called the agency and confirmed the story.

“She flew down to Alabama and picked up my niece the next day,” Ingber said.

Six weeks later, the Alabama agency called Ingber’s sister a second time, saying they had another child in need of a home. Ingber’s sister soon had a son, too.

“That was my a-ha moment,” Ingber said. “I knew right then and right there that this can be done differently.”

Ingber called up a patent attorney and spent the next two years working with a Web developer to create Parent Match, an online platform to connect adoption agencies and attorneys. Ingber said the goal is to improve inter-agency communication, thereby improving the speed and efficiency with which those agencies are able to match children with adoptive homes.

“Nobody can believe this doesn’t happen, especially people who aren’t in the adoption world,” Ingber said. “They don’t believe people aren’t talking, but they weren’t. Not until we came along.”

Subscribers pay a fee of $299 per month for access to the site. Ingber said when a new family or expectant mother signs up with an agency, the agency can enter about five minutes’ worth of information, then let Parent Match search for matches based on a set of basic criteria. All matches are done confidentially.

Marni Denenberg, director of domestic adoption programs at Alliance for Children Inc., in Summit, said Parent Match is one of many tools her agency now uses to make adoption matches. “It’s not an everyday thing that I’m finding matches on Parent Match,” she said. “It’s just one way we can outreach to further this goal (of placing children in adoptive families).”

Denenberg said her agency already had relationships with some outside agencies, but Parent Match enabled them to quickly connect with dozens of new agencies. For the most part, that’s a good thing, though Denenberg said it can be something of a mixed bag because other agencies might not have the same standards, such as pre-adoption counseling for adoptive families or birth mothers.

Though parents can’t become members — only licensed adoption professionals may sign up — they can use the site to find agencies that use the service.

“It’s not only provided an opportunity for us to work inter-agency, but it’s also served as a way for families within our state to find us,” Denenberg said.

At least one lawyer cautioned that a website like Parent Match, while useful, is no substitute for doing due diligence before adopting. “It cannot be a substitute for independent verification of the adoption professionals that you get from the website,” said Jennifer Weisberg Millner, a partner in the family law department at Fox Rothschild LLP, in Princeton.

Millner has not used the site, but lauded its mission, saying it could serve as a valuable tool.

Parent Match now has 10 employees, spread out across the United States. Most meetings are held via phone or Web conference, Ingber said.

“We really practice what we preach — we are a technology-based company, and that’s how we operate,” she said.

Ingber said the patent for Parent Match is strong enough that she doesn’t expect competition. Instead, the challenge is gaining a critical mass so that the service becomes ubiquitous for adoption agencies.

“When that happens, the process of domestic adoption will change incredibly,” she said. “It will become more confidential, it will become more private, it will be more streamlined — and hopefully, it will cost less for everybody.”

Parent Match had 40 subscribers last month, though it just became available to adoption attorneys in February. The company advertises on social media and at industry conferences. It also hosts chats and webinars designed to engage the adoption community. Ingber hopes parents will be their best salespeople.

“The reality is, every parent wants (agencies) to do this,” she said. “This is private. This is confidential. This doesn’t cost parents anything, and there’s really no reason not to.”



November 15, 2013 in News by Stephen Gardner  |  No Comments

The adoption process can take years and mounds of paperwork before you bring your new child home. Dr. Lori Ingber, an adoptive mother of four from New Jersey, knew there had to be a way to use technology to speed up and simplify the process, so she created Parent Match. Parent Match is the first and only national, secure, and searchable technology for adoption professionals that allow agencies to communicate and match children with families in a way that was previously unavailable.ss_101227885-225x300

Ingber created Parent Match exclusively for agencies and their clients. Both adoptive parents and expectant mothers can specify what they want in a match in the Parent Match database. Once their private and anonymous information enters the system, the agencies who subscribe to the company will be able to match families.

In a recent survey about technology and adoption, 44 percent of those under age 44 trying to adopt in the United States said they worked with more than one adoption agency. Parent Match eliminates the need for another agency.

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