How Much Do Adoptions Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 7, 2018

Because of the many different types of adoption, there is a very wide range of adoption costs.  Adoption can be done through the foster system, as a relative adoption (such as step-parents adopting a child), or a private or agency adoption.

How much do adoptions cost?

An adoption through the foster system usually has little to no cost and usually offers subsidies to the adoptive parents.

A relative adoption is also somewhat cost-free, with the exception of possible court fees or filing fees.  These are usually around $100.

A domestic agency can cost anywhere from $0 to as much as $3,000.  Most of these fees are going to include travel and attorney’s fees.

Agency and private adoptions can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000 depending on a number of factors.  These factors include travel expenses, birthmother expenses, state requirements, etc.

Adoptions done outside of the United States can vary anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000.  This will include the processing, court and agency fees.

For instance, an adoption in South Korea can cost $33,000 to $40,000 to complete the process.  A country such as China can cost $22,000 to $29,000.

According to this AdoptiveFamilies.com article, the cost of adoption through an agency can cost $33,000 on average.  A newborn adoption with an attorney can cost $31,000, and an adoption through a foster family can cost $2,700.

In a nutshell, you will have to choose your adoption, select an agency, complete a home study and wait for placement.  Once the placement has occurred, you can finalize the adoption process.

AmericanAdoptions.com notes that traditional options will cost about $41,000 to $47,000, while agency-assisted programs will cost $34,000 to $38,000.

What are the extra costs?

In every type of adoption, a home study must be completed before a family can be approved for adoption.  For foster care adoptions, the cost for this is covered by the state.  For relative adoptions, this is not usually an issue since everyone involved is related.  In private or agency adoptions, however, the adopting family is responsible for these costs, which can range from $1,000 to $3,000.

All adoptions must also be finalized through the United States court system.  The court costs can be between $500 and  $2,000.  Foster care adoptions are going to have these costs covered by the state as well, and since a relative adoption will take much less work and time the court fees are much less.  Private and agency adoptions will be quite a bit more expensive.

With a private or agency adoption, the adopting family is usually responsible for the medical costs of the birth mother.  These costs can range from $5,000 to $15,000, depending on the area, type of insurance, and complication of birth.

With international adoptions, the cost will include travel expenses for the adopting family as well as the adopted child.  Costs will also include immigration fees and foreign court fees.

With private or agency adoptions, any complications with the pregnancy or birth will make the costs increase depending on the medical issue.

With agency adoptions, most money can be reimbursed in the case that the birth mother changes her mind.  In a private adoption, there is no guarantee of reimbursement.

Some private adoptions will require some advertisement to show interest in adopting.  These fees will be in addition to the normal adoption cost.

Additional fees to consider when adopting are the applications fees, a home-based study, supervision fees after the adoption has occurred and a psychiatric evaluation (if required).

For adoptions that are done outside of the country, be sure to factor in additional fees such as foster car stays, travel expenses and escorting fees if the parent won’t travel to the country.  Medical care may have to be provided while in the adoption center as well.

An attorney can charge $500 to $2,000 for the documentation process.  If the attorney has to represent you in court, the fees can easily pass the $3,000 mark.

Those who are having a hard time with adoption may want to consider advertising through various avenues.  Advertising will widely vary depending on the type of advertising that has been chosen.

Foreign country additional costs:

Travel expenses to and from the hotel.  Factor in transportation and food.

The placement fee with the foreign agency.

Medical care in the foster home.

In some countries that are deemed unsafe, transportation may be required to get from one point to another.

Depending on the court system, additional fees can apply.

Passport, visa and filing fees.

Factors that affect the price:

The type of adoption

There are many types of adoptions that include domestic and international.  Depending on the type, the price can greatly vary.

The geographical location

Even if the location is inside of the United States, the adoption process can vary from state to state.  Check with local state adoption agencies to get a better idea of what it’s going to cost.

Family income

Some adoption agencies can work with those on a lower income.   Depending on the agency, the overall cost may be based on the family’s income.

Special needs

Special needs children that are harder to adopt out can receive special state reimbursements for families that choose to adopt these children.

Tax Credits

Many states can offer tax credits to parents who meet certain requirements.

Tips to know:

Be sure that you always consider a licensed adoption agency.  These agencies can be researched through various state databases.

Be sure to know about the fees ahead of time.  Legitimate adoption agencies will be more than happy to lay out the estimates before the process begins.  While the cost won’t be spot on, it should be fairly close.

Get help from an outside lawyer when it comes down to reviewing contracts.  Never work with a lawyer that is affiliated with the agency.

Look into local state grants and tax credits.  There are a lot of them out there, so make sure that you take full advantage.

In order to have a home study completed, a criminal clearance will be required.  These criminal clearances will check your criminal background on both an FBI and state level.

Check your local laws as each state will have its own laws and policies.

The average wait between adoption and when parental rights are granted was 12 months in 2015.

Adoption books to consider:

The Complete Adoption Book: Everything You Need to Know to Adopt a Child — The ultimate guide for those who are looking to adopt.  This book has all the resources that you need in order to successfully adopt a child.

Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew — Working with hundreds of adoptive families, Sherrie Eldridge was able to explain what children wish their parents knew during the adoption process.

You Can Adopt: An Adoptive Families Guide — The definite guide to everything adoption.  This book is the ultimate resource to help you along the road of adoption.  Get the answers that you can’t find on the Internet.

How can I save money?

Although foster adoptions are the cheapest way to go, they are not always the most feasible.  However, the government does provide many tax benefits and incentives for adoptive families.  Information for these types of government grants can be found through the IRS.

There are many other organizations that can provide help with the cost of adoption.  Some of these include the gift of adoption fund and the National Adoption Foundation.

Many employers offer adoption assistance.  Check with your employer to see if any type of benefit is offered in this regard.

Most adoption agencies don’t expect you to pay the entire bill up front.  Inquire about payment plans to split up the payments.

Loans and grants are available to individuals and families who qualify.

Some airlines offer discounts to those who are flying for adoption-related activities.

The military offers active-duty personnel reimbursement for up to $2,000 per child.


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  1. M (Detroit,  MI) paid $0 and said:

    I have been going through the adoption process right now. I’m trying to adopt through China. So far I’m at 7k and havent even seen the baby yet!

    Was it worth it? Yes

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