What You Need to Know about Adoption Expenses

Hopeful adoptive parents shouldn't be expected to bend over backward to cover adoption expenses.

Jessica Heesch May 18, 2018
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You found yourself wanting to adopt a child and after doing some research you are shocked to find out that the average cost of a domestic infant adoption is over $30,000.  The average cost of an international adoption is between $40,000 and $50,000. That is a lot of money for the average middle-class family. And you have to ask yourself, should adopting a child be this expensive?

If you are asking me, my answer is no. I don’t think any adoption expenses of any child, whether domestic or international, should cost that much money. I get it; there is a lot of work that goes into making an adoption successful. There are a lot of people that are involved, and I don’t think they should work for “free,” so I understand that there would be costs involved. During our almost six-year wait to be placed with our son’s birth mom, we had three different social workers. No, we didn’t switch agencies but one social worker left and had a replacement social worker fill in, and then we moved, which required us to get another social worker. All three of the social workers were great. In fact, our last social worker was amazing and saw us through to the very happy ending we longed for. So yes, I believe they need to be paid for their work and their “specialty” of working with adoptive parents and/or birth parents, although I think they are underpaid for all that they do. They earn on average, $38,000. That is roughly the cost of one domestic infant adoption.

Of course there are other professionals involved including lawyers and/or other medical professionals that also need to be paid. If you are adopting internationally, there are fees that are just unavoidable, including that country’s fees, passport fees, transportation fees, dossier fees, and more. I understand that there are fees that you just can’t avoid. In some cases, you will also have birth mother expenses you could be responsible for, including but not limited to, her medical expenses, living expenses, counseling, or legal fees. These are usually “optional” costs in an adoption but nonetheless, they add up quickly. In fact, we had a failed adoption occur a few years ago that we paid some of these expenses for and we essentially “lost” the money.

Are there ways to make it less expensive? Of course there are. We raised funds with an organization called Ordinary Hero, and they were great to us; we raised a lot of money doing it. We also had generous people “donate” to our adoption fund. But should those considering adoption be “forced” to get creative in being able to afford adoption? Probably not. But the fact of the matter is, adoptions are expensive. We, as adoptive parents, or prospective adoptive parents, need to be the voice behind making a change in this regard. What about medical insurance companies covering adoption expenses? What about talking to your legislators? Writing a letter? However strongly you feel about it, do something about it. Just as we tell our son, be the change you want to see in the world. We too can make a change.

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Jessica Heesch

Jessica lives in the Midwest with her husband and almost 4-year-old adopted son. She provides one-on-one assistance to her clients of a family law attorney, helping them get through the tough situations they find themselves in. She also manages the day-to-day activities and long-term planning. When she is not at the law office you will find her blogging at www.threeismyhappyplace.com. She finds passion in sharing their story of the gift of adoption. When she is not providing inspiration to others through her story, you will find her running the roads of Wisconsin, spending time with her family, exploring the United States, or reading her favorite book.


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