Adoption Costs

This information was taken directly from Child Welfare Information Gateway

Prospective adoptive parents may be concerned about the costs of adopting a child and their ability to meet those costs. Becoming a parent is rarely free of expenses—pregnancy and childbirth can be expensive and even more so without adequate insurance—and adoptive parents may be faced with initial costs that seem challenging. However, with planning and knowledge about the different types of adoptions and available resources, they can develop a budget to include most of the foreseeable expenses. This factsheet explains these expenses so that prospective adoptive parents can make informed decisions throughout the adoption process.

Costs of adopting may be minimal or can total more than $40,000, depending on a number of factors. The chart below outlines some general categories of adoption and costs associated with the services provided. The wide range reflects the multitude of factors that can affect costs, including the type of adoption, type of placement agency or facilitator, and child’s age and circumstances. Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to check with the agencies they are considering to find out more about specific costs for their circumstances.

Range of Adoption Costs

While the overall figures may seem daunting, prospective adoptive parents should explore all adoption options and the associated costs for each. In some cases, the total costs may be much less than the average figures cited in the section below; resources may also be available to help offset all or many costs. These are discussed at the end of this factsheet.

Breaking down the total cost into categorized expenses helps prospective parents understand what is involved and how to determine a predictable range for their costs. In some cases, understanding the costs associated with different types of adoption may help parents decide which type of adoption to pursue, or whether to pursue this approach to building a family.

Expenses that occur for every type of adoption include home study expenses and court costs.

Expenses that are associated with a particular type of adoption include public agency (foster care) adoptions, private (licensed private agency or facilitated) adoptions, and intercountry (foreign or international) adoptions.

Many adoptive parents pay some combination of universal and adoption-specific expenses. Many public agencies waive home study costs, reimburse most or all expenses, and offer an adoption subsidy that is up to the foster care payment amount for a qualifying child up until the age of 18 or 21, depending on the child’s characteristics.

Average Costs by Adoption Type

Adoption cost varies drastically between different modes of adoption. Location, agency costs, private attorney costs, foster care benefits, and international concerns such as travel or translation are all factors that affect the overall price of an adoption. Below are the average costs for most if not all of the expenses included in the typical types of adoption available to prospective parents.

Costs are averaged before taking into account any kind of private, professional, or government financial assistance available. If these costs look too high for any given financial situation, be sure to look into the financial assistance available in your community or country.

This information was taken from the most recent Adoptive Families magazine adoption cost survey.

Key Statistics

  1. Most newborn domestic adoptions cost between $20,000 and $40,000 to complete.
  2. International adoptions tend to cost about $35,000.
  3. Approximately 69% of foster adoptions report total costs of less than 1,000.
  4. Approximately 78% of families who complete a foster adoption report having received a monthly adoption subsidy, which averages $707 per month.
  5. More than a third of adoptive parents report at least one "false start," working with more than one birth mother before finding a match. In almost three-fourths of these cases, the added costs were less than $5,000.

Domestic Newborn Adoption - Agency Services

  • Homestudy Fee: $2,268
  • Document Preparation & Authentication: $2,636
  • Agency Application & Program Fees: $16,962
  • Legal Fees: $4,141
  • Advertising & Networking: $2,340
  • Birth Family Counseling: $770
  • Birth Mother Expenses: $3,233
  • Foster Care: $201
  • Travel Expenses: $1,977
  • All Other Expenses: $5,438
  • TOTAL: $39,966

Domestic Newborn Adoption - Private Attorney Fees

  • Homestudy Fee: $1,785
  • Document Preparation & Authentication: $1,598
  • Agency Application & Program Fees: $3,357
  • Legal Fees: $12,693
  • Advertising/Networking: $3,978
  • Birth Family Counseling: $842
  • Birth Mother Expenses: $5,590
  • Foster Care: $0
  • Travel Expenses: $2,431
  • All Other Expenses: $1,819
  • TOTAL: $34,093

Adoptions from U.S. Foster Care

  • Homestudy Fee: $396
  • Legal Fees: $1,075
  • Travel Expenses: $378
  • All Other Expenses: $1,819
  • TOTAL: $3,668

International Adoption from China

  • Homestudy Fee: $2,952
  • Document Preparation & Authentication: $2,221
  • Agency Application & Program Fees: $8,702
  • In-Country Adoption Expenses: $6,123
  • Child’s Passport, Visa, Medical Exam, and Other Fees: $1,143
  • Post-Adoption Expenses: $1,754
  • Major Travel Expenses: $9,420
  • In-Country Travel Expenses: $2,669
  • All Other Expenses:$1,354
  • TOTAL: $36,338

International Adoption from Ethiopia

  • Homestudy Fee: $2,119
  • Document Preparation & Authentication: $2,086
  • Agency Application & Program Fees: $17,038
  • In-Country Adoption Expenses: $2,395
  • Child’s Passport, Visa, Medical Exam, and Other Fees: $691
  • Post-Adoption Expenses: $1,431
  • Major Travel Expenses: $11,695
  • In-Country Travel Expenses: $2,655
  • All Other Expenses: $5,850
  • TOTAL: $45,960

International Adoption from the Ukraine

  • Homestudy Fee: $2,225
  • Document Preparation & Authentication: $1,313
  • Agency Application & Program Fees: $8,550
  • In-Country Adoption Expenses: $8,531
  • Child’s Passport, Visa, Medical Exam, and Other Fees: $744
  • Post-Adoption Expenses: $1,460
  • Major Travel Expenses: $6,778
  • In-Country Travel Expenses: $2,800
  • All Other Expenses: $7,667
  • TOTAL: $40,067

International Adoption from South Korea

  • Homestudy Fee: $3,123
  • Document Preparation & Authentication: $1,654
  • Agency Application & Program Fees: $22,437
  • In-Country Adoption Expenses: $8,600
  • Child’s Passport, Visa, Medical Exam, and Other Fees: $688
  • Post-Adoption Expenses: $1,180
  • Major Travel Expenses: $4,949
  • In-Country Travel Expenses: $814
  • All Other Expenses: $350
  • TOTAL: $43,795

In international adoptions, agency fees go towards the costs of arranging the adoption - from passports for the child, to translation costs, to legal fees in the child's country of birth. Many agencies route income from adoptions into helping other orphans in the countries they work with.

Avoiding Scams

While there may be a small fee required up front, any requirement that all fees be paid immediately following application to an agency should raise red flags. When talking with your professional, ask about the payment schedule, and about sliding scale fees if your financial resources are limited. Continue to Universal Expenses

Return to Affording Adoption