In every state across the United States, there are children with special needs waiting in foster care for adoptive families. The most recent data estimate that 126,000 children are available to be adopted from foster care.1 In the past, the costs of care and services were major obstacles to parents who would otherwise adopt and love these children, and most were not placed for adoption. The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 19802 provided the first Federal subsidies to encourage the adoption of children from the nation's foster care system. These subsidies, known as adoption assistance, serve to minimize the financial obstacles to adoption. In addition, other types of assistance often are available to help with medical care or other services. Adoption assistance serves to remove barriers and contribute to an increase in adoption of children with special needs.
There are several sources of help with covering costs. Adoptive families are eligible for state or federal reimbursement of one-time non-recurring adoption expenses (such as attorney fees, the cost of a homestudy, and airfare to visit the child, if necessary), and also for tax credits. Some employers offer adoption benefits. Sometimes a child's agency is willing to contribute to or cover the adoptive family's expenses. Nearly all waiting children are eligible for state or federal financial adoption assistance (subsidy) and medical assistance, which continue until they are 18 years old.