A Guide to Adoption Expenses

How much does adoption cost?

Jenny Jerkins May 14, 2015

One of the most frequently asked questions related to adoption is “how much does it cost?” While there is no set figure, costs can literally range from the hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. When there are so many children around the world needing forever homes and so many families willing to provide those homes, it’s easy to ask why adoption can be so expensive. It’s a topic of frustration for many who are seeking to adopt. We want to take a closer look with you and help provide a better breakdown of those costs and why they exist.

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.

Why is There a Cost?
1. Why is There a Cost?

There is a lot that goes into every single adoption. There are lawyers, courts, background checks, counseling, home studies, education, prenatal care, and travel. There is a lot involved in the adoption process, and all of those components cost something.

Keep in mind, though, that much of the cost depends on the type of adoption–foster adoption, domestic infant adoption, or international adoption–and also the type of agency you choose.

Adoption and Required Services
2. Adoption and Required Services

There is absolutely no price tag that should be associated with providing a child a loving and stable home environment. However, there are many services that come along with the adoption process, such as counseling for prospective birth parents, translation of foreign documents, and adoption education. Most of these are paid for by the hopeful adoptive parent(s).

Evaluations and Training Costs
3. Evaluations and Training Costs

No matter which type of adoption you choose, you will be required to complete a home study. Some states also require training courses for prospective adoptive parents, especially when involving state programs.

Background Investigations
4. Background Investigations

All prospective adoptive parents are required to complete background investigations through their state and also through the federal government. This is to ensure there is no prior history of child abuse or other serious criminal charges. Background investigations will include fingerprinting and FBI clearances.

Medical Examinations
5. Medical Examinations

Routine physical examinations are also required for prospective adoptive parents. Assurance must be given that the child is being placed in a healthy and safe environment. Remember that a judge is trying to ensure that the child is being provided the best care possible. This includes the adoptive parent(s) physical/mental health. The courts check to ensure that adoptive parent(s) are stable enough to provide for a child.

Expectant Parent Care
6. Expectant Parent Care

Often, you will want or need to provide care for the expectant parents, especially the expectant mom. This may include prenatal care and/or counseling services. It may also include living expenses (allowable limits are set by each state; some states provide monthly limits, while other states provide a reasonable standard). These costs will vary according to the expectant parents’ needs and also have to be agreed upon by a judge. There are a wide range of care needs and it is best to discuss those with your agency or attorney up front.

Hospital/Medical Expenses
7. Hospital/Medical Expenses

Again, depending on the needs of the birth family, some hospital and medical expenses may be incurred. This will vary and is completely different for each situation. Costs may range from the birth mother’s labor and delivery costs to payment of the child’s hospital and medical expenses at birth. Be sure you understand and are aware of the birth mother’s medical coverage and your own insurance requirements. This is also something that your agency or attorney will assist you with.

Legal Representation and Court Costs
9. Legal Representation and Court Costs

No matter the type of adoption (domestic, international, etc), as hopeful adoptive parents you will be required to utilize an attorney’s services.

This is to ensure that all legal issues associated with adoption are handled correctly. Adoption paperwork--such as affidavits, relinquishments, and finalizations--are court-ordered and approved by a judge.

International Adoption
10. International Adoption

In addition to the costs already mentioned, international adoption has specific costs on top of these, such as immigration costs (medical exams, immunizations, visas, passports, applications). Donations to orphanages or child welfare institutions to help pay for care of the child(ren) may also be required. Travel to and from the country of origin is also a major cost in international adoption. These costs will vary from country to country and your agency will assist you in determining the exact amounts.

Private Domestic Adoption
11. Private Domestic Adoption

Additional costs for private domestic adoptions may also include networking (hopeful parent profiles), traveling to meet with expectant parents or to attend appointments with them, and domestic costs while you stay in another state after birth until you are approved by the ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) to return home.

So What is the Bottom Line?
12. So What is the Bottom Line?

As you can see, the costs of adoption will vary according to which services are needed for a specific adoption. Private agencies typically charge an agency fee of $10,000-$30,000 on top of the costs already discussed, meaning that independent domestic adoptions can cost anywhere from $10,000 to greater than $50,000.

Adopting through foster care is often free or at least has very minimal costs.

Talk to Your Agency and Attorney
13. Talk to Your Agency and Attorney

It is very important that you understand in detail the expected costs before signing on with an attorney or agency. Ask for a breakdown of all the costs and understand the reasons behind them. Whether you chose to adopt privately or through the foster care system, there are many children waiting for a forever family, and there is an adoption for every budget.

Financial Assistance
14. Financial Assistance

It is important that you do not get discouraged when faced with the costs of adoption. Although it can be expensive, there are so many ways that it can be made affordable for everyone. There are numerous loans and grants available for hopeful adoptive parents, as well as the Adoption Tax Credit. Many employers now offer adoption benefits as well. And there are numerous options for fundraising. If you have it in your heart to adopt, do not let the expense deter you from following your dream of having a forever family.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

For more information about affording adoption, read our Guide to Affording Adoption.

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Jenny Jerkins

Jenny Jerkins is a Staff Storyteller for Adoption.com and resides in Augusta, GA. She is a wife and former engineer-turned-stay-at-home mom of an energetic, smart, and hilarious little boy. Grateful for infertility, she became a mom through adoption, which has opened her heart in ways she never knew were possible and also brought them the blessing of open adoption. She is an active member of several adoption communities and loves uniting and educating others. You can read all about her adoption story over at Our Not So Engineered Life where she has her own blog about infertility, adoption, motherhood, and life.


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