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Deciding to adopt a child is an empowering choice to make, but it’s one with a financial dimension, too.
If you’ve been racking up credit card debt or have less-than-stellar credit reports, there are some things you need to know before beginning the adoption process.
“Different agencies may have different requirements,” says Dewey Crepeau, executive director of A Gift of Hope Adoptions agency in Columbia, Missouri.
The processes for domestic and international adoptions vary, as do adoptions for special needs children. But it’s good to remember that the application process to adopt is much more than the paperwork. Most adoption agencies will require you to go through a background check, also called a family assessment or a home study.
It’s more than looking at the home, Crepeau says. It’s about answering the question, “Can they meet the basic needs to raise a child?”
“Adoption agencies look at financial information” — in a general sense — to make sure the prospective parents are financially stable, explains Tomasa Duenas, an adoptive parent and intake counselor at the Independent Adoption Center in Concord, California.
The Independent Adoption Center doesn’t require credit scores, she says. The Center, which is a nonprofit organization for domestic adoptions, makes sure that the adoptive parents have enough savings for at least three months of expenses, but there is no minimum income or credit requirement involved.
Crepeau’s agency, which helps both birth and adoptive parents domestically, does not check credit. Instead, it considers factors such as fingerprints, references and right of residency.
“Most people are going to satisfactorily complete a home study,” he says. “What typically bars people are criminal records.”
Not all criminal records, though. Misdemeanors and some non-violent felonies would not necessarily prevent someone from adopting, he says.
What about adoption loans?
Where credit does come into play is when it comes to loans. If you need to borrow money for the adoption, whether for agency fees, medical costs or other child-care matters, then good credit is more important. A credit score does affect your chances of getting an adoption loan. Some credit unions offer adoption loans as well.
Adopting a child is a major step, and it’s good to assess how prepared you are for the responsibility, including financially.
The article was updated Aug. 12, 2016. It originally published Jan. 29, 2015.
Image via iStock.