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

Public Agency (Foster Care) Adoption: $0 – $2,500

Licensed Private Agency Adoptions: $5,000 – $40,000+

Independent Adoptions: $8,000 – $40,000+

Facilitated/Unlicensed Adoptions: 5,000 – $40,000+

Intercountry Adoptions: $15,000 – $30,000

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 maximum figures cited here; 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.

This factsheet can help by outlining and discussing the following categories of expenses:

Universal expenses: that is, those that occur for every type of adoption, including home study expenses and court costs.

Adoption-specific expenses: that is, those that are associated with a particular type of adoption, including 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.


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