In this article, we discuss what type of financial support adoptive parents should expect to provide the birth mother in Illinois. Many adoptive parents might be surprised to find there are legal limits on the amount of financial support that can be given to the birth mother.
We’ll answer the following questions:
The majority of states allow for adoptive parents to pay for ‘customary and reasonable’ adoption-related expenses. However, this does not mean that the adoptive parents can “pay” the biological mother during the adoption process. Illinois law, and many other states, prohibits the direct compensation of the biological mother for adoption purposes. You may be asking, “What about a surrogate? Don’t they get payments for carrying the child?” Yes, surrogates typically do receive compensation for their childbearing services, but legally speaking surrogacy is a different situation from adoption, one which we will not dive into during this article.
The Adoption Act stipulates that outside of related or adult adoption, prior to entry of the judgment order for any adoption case, all parties involved in the adoption of a child, except for child welfare agencies, must execute an affidavit laying out all the fees and expenditures associated with the adoption in accordance with the repealed Adoption Prohibition Compensation Act. Any child welfare agency involved or managing an adoption must also file an affidavit that details all costs, fees, and expenditures associated with the adoption.
These documents show the judge there were no abnormal feels, payments, etc associated with the adoption of the child. Some may wonder why a biological mother can’t be directly compensated during or after the adoption process, but when considering the possible manipulation of the adoption process the reasons quickly become apparent.
Payment and receipt of compensation for adoption services are legally prohibited to every person or entity other than a licensed child welfare agency. Payment to a child welfare agency is strictly controlled by the state and entered into contractually by the adoptive parents and biological mother.
Adoptive parents should expect to pay for separate legal counsel for the birth parent(s) throughout the adoptive process. The attorney handling the adoption cases will explain the entire process to the birth parent(s), make sure their rights are protected, prepare all necessary court documents, determine visitation agreement, etc. Depending on the situation, if the child needs legal representation they may have to pay for a guardian ad litem. The adoptive parents will typically also have to pay for the biological parent(s) court fees. In Illinois, prior court approval is required for any legal fees over $1000.
The adoptive parents are expected to pay the reasonable living expenses of the biological parents with a prior court order. However, there must be a demonstrated need to protect the health of the biological parents and the child sought to be adopted for adoptive parents to pay the biological parent(s) living expenses. Furthermore, In Illinois, payment of living expenses is capped at 120 days prior to delivery and 60 days post-delivery.
The adoptive parents can advance payment of $1000 to the biological parent(s) without prior court approval for reasonable living expenses, but they must include this payment later on when presenting an accounting of all expenses related to the adoption. It is in the adoptive parent’s best interest to pay directly to the landlord, utility company, etc, to make sure the money is going to the appropriate place. The adoptive parents can also provide a “gift” to the biological parents not in excess of $200.
If the birth mother has medical insurance it will be billed for medical care. If the birth mother does not have medical insurance she can apply for Medicaid to cover her medical bills. In the event, she does not have insurance and does not qualify for Medicaid the adoptive parents can elect to pay for her medical care.
Generally, it is prudent for the adoptive parents to defer paying for medical expenses until after birth. Payment for medical expenses by the adoptive parents should also be conditioned on the biological parents contractually agreeing to do the adoption proceeding forward. This provides some financial security to the adoptive parents in the case of the adoption not moving forward. If the hospital or physician requires payment prior to dispensing services any money paid by the adoptive parents is considered charity and cannot be recouped.
It is safe to say that, in the event, the biological mother has no health insurance and does not qualify for Medicaid, the adoptive parents should expect to pay for any medical expenses incurred by the child after birth. The good news is that federal law requires insurance companies to provide the same coverage to adopted children as to those born into a family. As long as the biological mother does not change her mind about the adoption during the 72-hour window after birth, the adoptive parent’s medical insurance should cover the child’s healthcare.
For a child already born, the adoptive parents may still have to pay for a child’s medical care and other expenses including a psychological evaluation, clothing, food, a temporary hospital stay, or foster care until placement.
Unfortunately, any expenses paid on behalf of the biological parents by the adoptive parents cannot be recouped in the event the birth mother decides to keep the child in the 72-hour revocation period after birth. This can be particularly stressful for adoptive parents who do not have unlimited funds. According to a number of child welfare agency sites, the average adoption can cost between $30,000 and $50,000 dollars.
This number depends heavily on the type of adoption, whether a child welfare agency was used, and the geographic location of the child and the adoptive parents. However, this doesn’t mean that all this money must be paid upfront prior to the adoption of the child. Adoption laws are created in the best interest of the child. Placing the child in a safe and loving permanent home should be the primary goal of all parties involved. If you have questions about adoption and adoption costs, don’t hesitate to call 630-324-6666 and speak with one of our qualified adoption attorneys.
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