Bethany Christian Services specializes in both domestic and international adoption among other services, including foster care, refugee assistance, post-adoption services, and youth and family counseling. The national headquarters is in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with other offices in 35 states across the U.S. and additional global offices. Bethany operates international adoption programs in eleven different countries and also provides home study and post-adoption services for both full-service clients and adoptive families working through other agencies.
- International adoption
- Domestic fee affordability
- Foster care adoption
Bethany complies with the Hague Convention on International Adoption. As of 2016, Bethany places children from Albania, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Hong Kong, Lithuania (for families with Lithuanian heritage), South Africa, South Korea, and Uganda. The Haiti program is on hold. Many of these international children have emotional, physical, or cognitive challenges. Bethany works with in-country adoption specialists who speak both English and the local language and are familiar with the local customs and government.
Wait times, fees, and eligibility requirements differ according to the country, and can be unpredictable even within each country. For example, the wait time to receive a referral for a child aged 4 or younger from Albania can take 2-3 years for one couple, and can be as short as 6-18 months for another couple that has Albanian heritage. Couples open to adopting a Chinese child with special needs could complete the entire process in as little as 15 months. Bethany provides detailed eligibility descriptions, rough wait estimates, and process nuances on their website.
The country fee, third party fee, travel fee, and post-adoption fees vary by country. But these fees remain constant regardless of the country:
Preliminary Application: Free
Formal Application: $550
Global Services fee: $1,800
Home study: $1,900-3,000
Program Fee 1: $3,000-5,050
Program Fee 2: $2,000-3,450
Post-Adoption Services: $1,400-2,000
Total international costs range from $18,083 (Hong Kong) to $52,168 (Uganda).
Domestic Fee Affordability
Fees for domestic adoption vary from state to state due to legal system and state regulations, but Bethany's fees are straightforward and affordable for Michigan adoptions. Here's the breakdown:
Application fee: $750 (non-refundable)
Assessment fee due prior to home study: $1,900 (non-refundable)
Pre-placement services fee due at approval: $5,000 (non-refundable)
Placement and supervision fee due at legal placement: $13,850
The fees above include family counseling and support, adoption education, support groups, family assessment, national networking, legal documentation, and finalization. They do not include birthparent expenses, which are required on a case by case basis to comply with state laws.
Foster Care Adoption
Foster care adoption through Bethany is an option for individuals or couples of any marital status and the costs are extremely minimal, especially with the help of grants, corporate scholarships, and contracts with the state. Waiting children are generally a minority, part of a sibling group, between the ages of 8-18, and/or have special emotional, mental, or physical needs. There is currently a huge need for foster care adoption, with over 104,000 waiting children in the U.S. Adopting a foster child from a state other than the parent's state of residence is possible, can be a long process.
- Need for centralized information
Need for Centralized Information
The bad thing about having so many different branches for domestic adoption services is the lack of a unified information source. While the agency sets forth detailed information about the international programs online, they provide precious little information about domestic, directing prospective clients to contact specific branches of the company for even general questions about the adoption process. Though it seems a small complaint, it's probably enough to make some prospective clients opt for an agency that presents more information, more clearly, more quickly.