What is the average cost of adoption?
By far, this is one of the most frequently asked questions from families considering adoption. Unfortunately, the cost of adoption is often misunderstood and creates unnecessary confusion and fear.
The cost of adoption varies depending on several factors. However, none is more important than the type of adoption you choose.
Are you pursuing a foster care adoption, domestic agency or independent adoption, international adoption, or embryo adoption? Each type has different costs.
Range of Costs
- Public Foster Care Adoption: $0 – $5,000
- Embryo Adoption: $7,500 – $19,500
- Private Agency Adoption (Domestic): $20,000 – $45,000
- Independent Adoption (Domestic): $15,000 – $40,000
- Intercountry Adoption (International): $25,000 – $50,000
Common Adoption Expenses
If you are working with an adoption agency or attorney, you should receive a written fee sheet with detailed information about all known fees that you will be charged during the adoption process. Be sure to review your fee sheet, ask questions, and get as much information about unexpected expenses so you have the full range of costs.
Here are some common adoption expenses:
- Agency fees
- Home study
- Attorney fees
- Medical expenses
- Dossier preparation
- Visa and Passport fees
- Travel expenses
- Temporary foster care
- Birth certificate
- Court costs
Foster Care Adoption Costs
Do you want to know the easiest way to adopt debt free? Adopt from foster care.
Most adoptions from U.S. foster care are “free” to families. Sometimes, there are costs that families will incur but they will likely be less than $5,000 and are often reimbursable.
It’s important to understand, in real terms, adoption from foster care is not any less expensive than other types of adoption. There are legal fees, court costs, expenses for social workers, medical costs, placement fees and so on. However, this type of adoption is subsidized by the government (tax payers) with funds designated by the state and the costs are not typically passed on to the families. Therefore, the cost to the families to adopt from foster care is very low, if anything at all.
Many children adopted from foster care are declared special needs by their state and parents qualify for the entire Federal Adoption Tax Credit ($13,570 in 2017) that they can claim in the year the adoption is finalized. There are also other state adoption subsidies that you may be eligible for.
Another thing to consider is if a child has special needs, what kinds of additional costs might the family incur? It’s common that adopted children with special needs require additional post-placement services. These services may include specialized medical care, individual and family counseling, parenting workshops, therapy, and other educational resources.
These post-adoption costs will vary depending on the services rendered, the providers, and the length of time the services are needed. Many of these services are commonly utilized by families who adopt older children and those who complete international adoptions as well.
Domestic Adoption Costs
Domestic agency and independent adoptions typically cost between $15,000 and $45,000. Some unexpected costs can include prenatal care, delivery and hospital expenses for birth parents not covered by Medicaid or insurance. Assistance with housing and transportation costs may also be needed for birth parents.
International Adoption Costs
International adoptions generally range between $20,000 and $50,000 but can be higher. With international adoptions, timelines tend to be less certain and delays are common.
More than likely, families begin paying fees for the ongoing care of their child in an orphanage or foster care after being matched with a child and accepting the referral. If delays persist for several months, these fees will add up quickly. Unforeseen medical expenses are also common with international adoptions.
Is Adoption Right For You?
Are you considering adoption? If so, then there are probably a lot of thoughts going through your mind right now. Adoption is a BIG decision. The child you adopt will become part of your family forever. There will be times of joy, hardship, and uncertainty for the entire family. Adoption is a lifelong commitment.
One of the greatest concerns for families is the high cost of adoption. In fact, it’s often cited as the main reason preventing them from moving forward. We understand that adoption can be expensive and the cost to bring a child home can sometimes seem outrageous. We totally get it. However, if the cost is the only thing holding you back, then consider adopting from foster care.
While it’s not for us to decide if or what type of adoption is right for you, our desire is to inform you about the costs, help you overcome your fear and equip you to fund your adoption. We know it can be done. We’ve heard countless stories and coached families that have done it. And we’ve done it ourselves. Our goal is to provide you with every resource and success story we can find from real families just like yours, that are in similar financial situations and have expressed similar fears.
Pursuing An Expensive Adoption
If you’ve read this far, then I’m going to assume that you are here for one of the following reasons:
- You’re considering adoption and concerned about the high cost, if you can afford it, and how other families have paid for it.
- You’ve already decided to move forward with adoption and in the process of researching and trying to figure out how you will pay for it.
You don’t have to earn a six-figure income or be wealthy in order to adopt. Not at all. Most families adopting from foster care earn less than $73,000 per year. According to Gift of Adoption Fund, an organization that provides financial assistance to adoptive families, the average household income of their grant recipients is $43,500. The year we started the adoption process, our total income was $51,551.
You don’t need to have the full amount of your adoption costs in the bank before you get started. Absolutely not. You don’t pay everything all at once. When we started, we had less than $1,000 in our savings account. You should receive a tentative fee schedule from your adoption agency or attorney that itemizes all of your known expenses and when they are due. If you haven’t received this, ask for it.
In many cases, you will have some time to fundraise and apply for grants. In the event that you need a large sum of money upfront or to start your home study, there are interest free loans and other short-term financing options that can help bridge the gap until you fundraise or have the ability to pay the loan back.
There are thousands of ways to pay for adoption expenses. Indeed, you are limited only by your own creativity and resourcefulness. There are countless ways to cover the cost of adoption without going into debt: applying for direct and matching adoption grants, crowdfunding, hosting fundraising events, selling products, budgeting and rearranging your personal finances, utilizing the Adoption Tax Credit, and getting financial assistance from your employer. Learn how we raised $47,960 to adopt debt free.
The High Cost of Adoption
- As mentioned, the cost of adoption can vary widely depending on the type you choose, the agency you’re working with, and the country you adopt from among other things. Unless you’re adopting from foster care, adoption will likely cost between $15,000 and $45,000.
- Roughly 33% of Americans consider adoption. Of those, 79% are concerned about the high cost. Less than 2% adopt.
- 1 in 10 failed adoptions is due to financial limitations of the family.
Don’t Let The Cost Stop You
- The average household income of families adopting from foster care is less than $73,000.
- In 2008, there were 135,813 adoptions (all types) in the U.S.
- In 2013, there were 7,092 international adoptions.
Best Ways To Cover The Cost of Adoption
- Create a funding plan.
- Be resourceful, budget, and save money.
- Hold adoption fundraisers and use an online fundraising site to receive donations.
- Apply for adoption grants.
- Talk to your company about employer adoption benefits and financial assistance.
- Active service members are eligible for military adoption benefits.
- Compare interest free adoption loans and low interest personal loans.
Keep Calm and Fund Your Adoption
Consider all of your options and sources of funding. No matter what the cost of adoption, there’s no putting a price tag on the value of a child. Remember, adoption doesn’t have to be expensive. And even if you choose to pursue an expensive adoption, take a deep breathe.
Every single year, thousands of American families successfully complete their adoptions despite the cost. Focus on the goal and you will provide a loving family for a child.
You Can Adopt Debt Free!