Can anyone direct us to the least expensive Russian adoption agency that will deal with parents in their 50's.
Also what region is most friendly towards older parents?
Each agency has their fee structure set up differently. By the time you compare all costs I think you end up paying approximately the same $$ by the time your child comes home. As for regions that are more friendly toward older adoptive parents, that would have to be discussed with the agency you ultimately sign with. Each agency works in different regions and they will choose the one that best fits your family situation, and child requests.
Always be sure you are comparing apples to apples when you figure out the costs of an adoption. Some agencies roll many of the costs into a single adoption fee, while others break them out separately. Make a spreadsheet with all of the costs listed, and then fill it in for each agency. You may have to call them to say, "Is the guide service included in that fee, or is that an additional cost?" or "Are the U.S. Embassy fees and the Russian government fees included in that, or are they separate?" Once you complete the spreadsheet, you'll probably see that the actual agency fee is about the same, and not that big a component of costs.
The largest component of costs will be the travel fees, since the regions have started requiring two to four trips. That can really add up, when you consider airfare, hotels, meals, etc.
I disagree that all agencies end up costing about the same. I know for a fact that mine cost a lot less than three of my friends' who adopted +/- two years of me. (Yes, we've talked money. They're good friends.)
From what I've seen, there are sort of two tiers when it comes to costs--really expensive (often big) agencies and more reasonably priced agencies.
It *is* important to look at what you're paying for, and take everything into account. You don't want to be surprised in the end!
I will also say that my agency did everything they could to help me keep my costs down--i.e. arranging a translator who could double as my driver. I was very appreciative!