Q. My husband and I are blessed with a beautiful baby boy of our own, but would like to extend our love to a child less fortunate than our own. We would love to adopt an Asian girl, simply because we know what little chances most of them have. What is the financial outlook for doing this? Where do we start?
A. If you want to adopt from abroad -- China or almost anywhere else -- you should contact an agency that provides precisely that service. You can find one in your local phone book or on the Internet. Then you should be a good consumer of services. This process is going to be expensive so make sure you get good legal and medical help, counseling, and other services for your money. Don't be shy; ask for referrals, read a good book, do all the things you would do when selecting a doctor or making any other big decision in your life. First and foremost, get educated and you'll do better. People think nothing of spending months in birthing classes and learning all about the babies they're going to deliver, but for some reason balk at learning about the adoptive process before they take that road toward building a family.
It will probably cost between $15,000 (if you're very lucky, do good homework and don't require a lot of foreign travel) and $30,000. Suffice it to say that, in most cases, the professionals involved are truly trying to do their jobs right; there are subsidies and tax credits available; and years from now, the money (assuming you can afford it in the first place) will seem like an unimportant part of it because you won't be able to imagine your life without that child.
It's worth saying that people decide how and where to adopt for a host of reasons. For those who want to help a child in need but can't afford the process I've just described, there are thousands of children in foster care who need permanent homes and are available for adoption -- for free.
One aside: you mentioned having given birth to a child already: Once you adopt, that child also will be "your own" in every single way.