Parents react to adoption fee increase
By Arielle Godbout
August 5, 2010 / Winnipeg Free Press
With a fee increase coming into effect this week for Manitoba’s three not-for-profit private adoption agencies, one parent says she thinks the increase places an unfair burden on couples who cannot have children.
"I don’t think (people) that can’t have families should be penalized," said Sue Campbell.
Campbell and her husband have adopted three children after struggling with infertility.
The River Park South-based couple opted for a private adoption for their third child, and Campbell stressed she would have still gone through the process even if she had to pay more money.
But she said the increase — from $5,500 to $8,500 for private adoptions and from $5,800 to $8,800 for inter-country adoptions — could be a barrier for some.
"I can see that it would deter some people from doing it, because that’s a huge chunk of money," Campbell said.
And though it may not stop some people completely from adopting, it could strain their financial resources, she said.
Bonnie Snow, program supervisor for Adoption Options — one of the province’s three not-for-profit private adoption agencies — said people whose family income is less than $60,000 are eligible for a reduction in their adoption fees, subsidized by the government.
Snow added that the increase was needed, as fees have remained static since the provincial government licensed the agencies in 1999.
"We have been bound by the same fee structure for 11 years," she said, adding that in the intervening years much has changed, including the cost of living and pay scales. "We were always able to make it work, but it got to the point where finances were tight."
Manitoba will still have the lowest private adoption fees in the country, according to the province. Anyone who has started the adoption process already will be charged under the old fee structure.
Campbell said she supports the work of the adoption agencies, and that if they need more money they should get it.
But she said it’s the government who should be paying for the extra costs, or at least subsidizing all adoptions.
Beyond the fee reduction for families making less than $60,000, the province provides a non-refundable tax credit for adoption expenses, up to $10,000.
But Campbell said that’s not enough.
She and her husband pointed out that the province has announced it will provide a 40% refundable tax credit — which allows for a reimbursement — for fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization and insemination procedures.
"If the government’s willing to subsidize fertility treatment, shouldn’t they subsidize adoptions as well?" she asked. "Isn’t one the same as the other in the end?"
Not all parents feel the same way.
Janice Brisebois, who is in the middle of her second adoption process, said she feels better knowing the financially-strapped organizations will have access to more money.
"It is something of a comfort," said Brisebois, a former River Park South resident who just recently moved to Île-des-Chênes.
Brisebois, co-chair of the adoption support group Friends of Adoption Manitoba, said her organization has not received any calls from potential parents concerned about the fee hike.
Brisebois and her common-law spouse Darren Iwanchysko adopted their daughter five years ago.
Two years ago, they decided to go through the whole process again.
And though the fee increase won’t affect the couple because they’ve already begun the process, Brisebois said they would have been fine paying the extra $3,000.
"I think it’s a positive step forward to ensure that the agencies will be able to continue to provide support to both birth parents and adopting couples," she said.
And it was no secret that the adoptions agencies were challenged by tight finances, she said — which made her nervous for the status of the couple’s second adoption.
"It’s known that the agencies struggle," she said. "Who knows if the agencies would have remained afloat?"