How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Child? A Guide.

Learn how to prepare for the financial, mental, and spiritual costs of adoption.

Jeanette Green June 26, 2015

Welcome to the wonderful world of adoption. At your journey’s end, you will be stronger, kinder, and more grateful for life’s challenges. You will experience more joy and love than you imagined possible. You will experience pain . . . but the cost of adoption is insignificant compared to the blessing of adoption. Trust in the process, listen to your heart, and be prepared to witness miracles firsthand. Every cost is an investment towards a brighter future. Even though the cost of adoption is high, the blessings of family pay off for years to come.

Though the joys of adoption are beautifully life-changing, these joys come at a cost. Even though most people consider the financial costs of adoption first, every adoption brings spiritual and mental cost as well. Through this guide you learn the cost of adoption on your pocketbook, but more importantly the cost to your mind, as you focus all your energy on your future child, as well as your heart, as you emotionally prepare for a new child. In the end every cost ends up building new mental and emotional capacities inside a parent willing to fight for their child.

This guide helps prepare you for both the financial and mental/spiritual cost of adoption.

Are you considering growing your family through domestic infant adoption? For a free and confidential consultation with an adoption professional, click here.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about financing your adoption, click here to learn about fundraising options or click here to learn about your loan options.

For additional information on the cost of adopting a baby, visit Bankrate

Types of Adoption
1. Types of Adoption

How much does adoption cost? When you decide adoption is your path, one of the first questions you ask is generally about the expense. It makes cents. I mean – it makes sense (ba-da ching). In an ideal world, finances wouldn’t be an issue and those who have desires to adopt could with no problems. And really, how do you put a price tag on a child’s life? It’s a really uncomfortable situation to navigate. But even so, as a responsible adult and potential adoptive parent, it’s crucial to understand the financial commitment you are making so you can be prepared.

Where do you begin? First, know what type of adoption you are considering: domestic, private, international, or foster care. Once you’ve decided what you feel comfortable with in terms of the type of placement, then you can investigate the finances. Or perhaps it would be helpful to know the finances before deciding on which type of placement you’d prefer. In that case, read on . . .

Adoption Costs Overview
2. Adoption Costs Overview

First, know that though the costs of adoption vary quite a bit. The average is anywhere from $25,000-$35,000. That is the average. So keep in mind that some agencies will cost more, some will cost less.

Each agency has a different set of charges. (To get a breakdown of expenses, you will need to contact an agency and ask for their list of expenses.) Some agencies will have a fixed fee. This means that no matter how many hours they put into your case, including extra work that needs to be done, you won’t be charged for it. The fee is fixed at a particular price.

Other agencies may have a partially fixed fee. This means that they have a base rate, but if your case becomes more complicated, you may be required to pay additional fees to cover birth parent expenses, extra hours put in by caseworkers, etc. And others just charge by the amount of work that needs to be done. There are agencies around that also charge on a sliding scale, based on your income.

Adoption Credit and Adoption Assitance Programs
3. Adoption Credit and Adoption Assitance Programs

Before the thought of an expensive adoption overwhelms you, remember this: adoption assistance programs and an adoption tax credit exist.

In fact, some employers help pay for adoption. Go to your HR office and find out about it. There are grants that are immediately available and grants that can be discovered. And many people choose to fundraise to alleviate some of the financial cost.

In 2014, the adoption tax credit was set at $13,190 per child. Document your expenses well and turn in your report with your taxes. Qualified expenses will be credited up to $13,190! That’s pretty incredible. If you have the money upfront and as long as the law doesn’t change, you may be able to have a good chunk of money credited back to you.

Domestic Private Adoption
4. Domestic Private Adoption

When you write the check, where is your money going? Again, though each agency is different, the money you pay generally goes toward professional services provided to adoptive families (preparing your home study, trainings, general case management, post-placement services), professional services provided to birth parent(s) (screening and evaluation, counseling, birth plan preparation, post-placement support, general case management), legal expenses, advertising/networking, and paying the salaries of agency employees.

International Adoption
5. International Adoption

When you choose to adopt a child from a different country, this is referred to as international adoption. There are many similarities between domestic and international adoption. However, there are extra steps and procedures that need to be followed when working with another country.

Extra steps bring extra expenses. You need to prepare your home with appropriate government background checks just as you would for a domestic adoption, but there is dossier preparation and travel costs to be considered as well. International adoptions can range from $20,000-$40,000+. Take time to look up specific countries to get more detailed information.

Foster Care Adoption
6. Foster Care Adoption

The least expensive way to adopt is always through your state’s foster care system. The state absorbs most legal costs as well as professional services for both adoptive and birth families. By doing so, they allow more people to be able to grow their families through adoption, while helping some of the children who are in the most immediate need at the same time.

Mental Cost/Investment
7. Mental Cost/Investment

The evaluation of adoption costs would be incomplete without the mental, emotional, and spiritual costs. Truly, adoption is taxing in many areas.

Mentally, you will have days, weeks, or maybe months where it seems you can’t think of anything else. The sheer time it takes to prepare your paperwork would lead you to have a single-minded focus on that one thing: adoption. It’s easy to become mentally tired as you read over your birth parent letter over and over and over again. How to find the right words to express what you are trying to say? It’s mentally challenging and takes time to create work that you feel truly represents who you are. The mental effort is surely worth it, however, when you are finally able to submit your paperwork and are ready to be presented.

Emotional and Spiritual Cost/Investment
9. Emotional and Spiritual Cost/Investment

Emotionally you will be stretched. It’s hard to invest as much time, energy, and heart as you do in adoption and not be equally emotionally invested. It’s easy to get discouraged and feel alone. For some, discouragements lead to questioning why they even began this journey. Is God involved in this? Some higher force? Is it all luck . . . or lack of luck?

The desire for children, for family, is among the few things in life that can cause such an emotional trial. Fortunately, with social media constantly expanding, there are Facebook groups and other support systems organized so that those who have been through it can empathize and cheer you on, buoying you up as you move onward. Some days you may feel on top of the world, and the next filled with fear and worry. But if your heart wasn’t in it all the way, the joy at the very end when that child is in your arms wouldn’t be as sweet.

What is the Cost of Adoption?
10. What is the Cost of Adoption?

There are certainly expenses involved in adoption. And it’s important to be educated and understand what they are. But if we were to stop for a moment and evaluate all the costs, and look at the benefits, we’d recognize that all the costs are really investments.

The money, time, and energy, as well as the emotional, mental, and spiritual efforts, are investments to create the family you have dreamed of. Should you be realistic about the financial costs? Yes. Should you consider what you are able to emotionally handle before taking on too much? Yes. If you didn’t, it would be irresponsible and potentially damaging.

What is the cost of adoption? Well, what is the cost of love? Go in with your eyes, hearts, and minds open, and you just may find the treasure you’ve been waiting for.

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Jeanette Green

Jeanette Green is a mother to three beautiful children--two through the blessing of adoption. She is a firm believer that we never walk alone, the sun continues to shine even when we can’t feel its rays, and you can’t get sick from raw cookie dough. Various life experiences have taught her that life never turns out like we expect. But if we’re patient, we learn that it’s better that way. To learn more about Jeanette and her crew, visit The Green Piece

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