Adoption has never been famously known to be affordable. Many of the myths surrounding adoption are about its cost and its ability to be attainable by the everyday person. While there are many ways to afford adoption and adoption costs are often misunderstood, it is not usually a myth that most types of adoption are indeed expensive. When people ask the question, “Why is adoption so expensive?” it is usually because they are viewing adoption as a whole and not as a set of individual services. The process of adoption—broken up into sets of fees for the various services that need to be utilized—will help answer the question of, “Why is adoption so expensive?” in a more concise manner.
Adoption can be difficult to explain, especially if your child is young. Consider how you feel about adoption and how you would present this to your child. Would you be comfortable answering questions about birth parents? For those who are interested in a transracial adoption, would you be comfortable discussing race with your child and exploring their heritage and birth culture? The topic will come up eventually and you’ll want to be prepared.

Discusses the impact of adoption on adopted persons who have reached adulthood. There are several themes that emerge from personal accounts and data from academic studies about issues that adopted persons may face. This factsheet addresses these themes, which include loss, the development of identity and self-esteem, interest in genetic information, and managing adoption issues.
"In many states, we can determine that someone is eligible to buy a gun in less than 4 hours," Craig Juntunen—founder and CEO of the global advocacy organization Both Ends Burning and executive producer of the documentary STUCK—told BuzzFeed Life. "But during the 3 years that an adoptive family is being proven eligible, the adoptive child is losing developmental days that they will never get back."

One of the biggest ticket items in the adoption cost of international adoption is the agency fee. This fee pays for the adoption agency to act as your liaison between you and the country you are adopting from. Their employees help to match you with your child, provide adoption education, help you to complete the needed paperwork, translate and submit it to the country you are working with, facilitate travel, and also keep their own licensing up to date. All of this comes with a fee. Most program fees (the costs paid to an agency for these services) run between $5,000 and $10,000, depending on the agency and which country you are adopting from, though sometimes agencies will quote up to $25,000 for their fee. It pays to do your research.


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An agency adoption is an adoption that occurs through a licensed child-placing agency. The agency will facilitate the adoption process and can possibly be advocating for the birth mother and the adoptive family. This is the type of adoption we utilized with the adoption of our son. Our social worker advocated for our son’s birth mom and prepared us for the adoption process. 
"In many states, we can determine that someone is eligible to buy a gun in less than 4 hours," Craig Juntunen—founder and CEO of the global advocacy organization Both Ends Burning and executive producer of the documentary STUCK—told BuzzFeed Life. "But during the 3 years that an adoptive family is being proven eligible, the adoptive child is losing developmental days that they will never get back."
The adoption professional doing their part to make adoption more affordable do so in a variety of ways. Some attorneys will work pro bono or for a reduced rate. Some agencies offer graduated payment schedules, so that you only pay for services as they are rendered and not beforehand, and will connect families with resources. And Delta offers discount airfare for international adoption travel.
Adoption is expensive because the process to legally adopt a baby requires the involvement of attorneys, social workers, physicians, government administrators, adoption specialists, counselors and more. While the adoption journey is an emotional one for prospective birth mothers and adoptive families, the adoption process is a legal function. Adoptions completed by fully licensed agencies are held to high ethical standards, which can mean more paperwork and higher costs.
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I emailed them back and got off that mailing list, but the number stuck with me. I'd received a lot of info about my son's adoptive family when I was in the process of placing him, including their occupations, salaries, and debt. However, it had never occurred to me to even think about how much they were paying the agency, or the expense adoption must have meant for them.
 – Agency Fee/Program Fee – This number, of course, is one that varies by which country you are adopting from and what agency you are using. The costs can range from $10,000 to $15,000. For more specific information, contact a local adoption agency and discuss with them what their rates for international adoptions are and know what country you are interested in adopting from, as that will determine the cost. 
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An advantage of starting out as a foster parent is the quantity of training and preparation. In addition to the series of classes at the beginning of the process, foster parents receive training on an on-going basis, addressing a variety of parenting issues. To learn more about foster parenting, visit the website of the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning at http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp.
The next big ticket item in international adoption cost is travel. This is a highly variable budget item because so much is dependent upon which country you are traveling to. In some countries, you only need to stay a few days while others require a parent to stay for weeks, and still, other countries require multiple trips. The cost within the countries will vary as well. I’ve seen travel quotes range from $3,500 to $4,000 for China, to $9,000 to $15,000 for Ukraine, and $7,000 to $9,000 for Colombia. Your travels costs will also depend on the type of hotel you stay in, how much you spend on food, and how much shopping you do.
If your state does allow private adoptions, where the birth mother and prospective adoptive parents find each other, there will still be some fees associated with the adoption. These fees may include advertising online to locate a birth mother. Again, this is not allowed in every state. As indicated above, if your state requires you to utilize an adoption agency, they may charge a lesser fee than if they facilitated the match between birth mother and adoptive parents. You may also want to consult an attorney if you are pursuing a private adoption. Not only will you know what your rights are regarding the adoption process but it also might give you peace of mind as well. In some states you can use an adoption attorney to facilitate the adoption process and will pay whatever they charge and whatever their hourly rate is. Again, this is not one size fits all either. Make sure you consult with more than one adoption attorney before choosing the one that fits your family’s need the best.

3. You may not have a baby shower until months after your baby is born. Since the adoption process is often filled with so much uncertainty, many prospective parents prefer to wait until after their baby is home before having a shower. Often, this is a practical course of action. For instance, if a family is adopting from overseas, they may not know their child's gender, size, or age until shortly before traveling to get him. (In some cases, their "baby" may be 15 or 16 months old!) However, once parents are home and settled into a routine, they'll have a better sense of what they need -- and of their baby's likes and dislikes.
Asking friends and family to donate to your garage sale can be an amazing way to raise funds for your adoption. Hosting online actions on social media can also help you reach a larger crowd. You can ask your friends who have services or items they create or sell to donate to your auction and appreciate the free marketing and advertising you provide on their behalf with their items and services. For our Yard Sales, we asked all of our friends and family to donate unwanted items that they no longer needed.  We had an outpouring of donations.  We also asked friends and family to donate baked goods and had a bake sale at our Yard Sale.  On the same day of our Yard Sale, we advertised for a car wash at a local grocery store.  Between both events we raised almost $6,000 in one day.  I set up a Square account and people gave/donated more because they could use a debt/credit card.
Bring others on your journey! Social media is a very powerful outlet for people to raise funds. You need to be active in your adoption journey and social media is a great way to remain active and create community. As you post, you must have realistic expectations. Share everyday – In general, maybe 20% of your friends will see your posts, so don’t get upset if you don’t receive a lot of interaction. Be honest about what you are using the funds for and make a breakdown of what all the fees were used for.  I shared every step of our journey on social media for all to see.  I  kept everyone updated with details about the process. Each time I paid a fee, I posted a photo of the check amount and what it was going toward. I had so many people thank me for my honesty and openness.  They felt more inclined to give and and many donated multiple times because they knew exactly what I was using the funds for.  I was very careful about what our family spent money on. It is important to sacrifice and save, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ever go out for an ice cream.  You just don’t need to post that on social media. Also, one thing that worked for me may not work for you.  Research and find ideas that other families have done, and choose the ones that feel like a good fit for you and your network.  Ask for help from friends and family, but don’t expect it or assume everyone will want to be involved.
Whether the adoption is domestic or international, travel expense can usually be expected. Undoubtedly, travel for an international adoption can be quite expensive. In most international adoption cases, the family will visit the country and the child first. Then, once that country’s waiting period is over and the process is complete, the family will return to their child’s country of origin to complete the process and travel home with their child. The cost for this element of adoption varies widely based on time of travel and country of origin.

For private and independent adoptions, the birth parent(s) can decide whether or not he or she wishes to select the adoptive parents, meet with them, even maintain an ongoing relationship, if he or she so chooses. That is called an open adoption. In a closed adoption, the names of the birth mother and father and the adoptive parents are not shared with one another.

If your state does allow private adoptions, where the birth mother and prospective adoptive parents find each other, there will still be some fees associated with the adoption. These fees may include advertising online to locate a birth mother. Again, this is not allowed in every state. As indicated above, if your state requires you to utilize an adoption agency, they may charge a lesser fee than if they facilitated the match between birth mother and adoptive parents. You may also want to consult an attorney if you are pursuing a private adoption. Not only will you know what your rights are regarding the adoption process but it also might give you peace of mind as well. In some states you can use an adoption attorney to facilitate the adoption process and will pay whatever they charge and whatever their hourly rate is. Again, this is not one size fits all either. Make sure you consult with more than one adoption attorney before choosing the one that fits your family’s need the best.
There are several ways a hopeful adoptive family can be proactive in keeping the cost of adoption within their budget, and the most important may be finding the right adoption agency to work with. Adoption agencies structure fees and handle refunds in different ways. Finding an agency that is transparent and trustworthy with finances is important. 
After a child is born or a child is placed in the care of an adoptive family, there may still be more fees for the adoption process that occurs post-placement. The birth mother may still require some final expenses, typically for up to six weeks after placement of the child. Many states also require for the birth mother to be offered counseling after the birth of the child. In domestic adoption, most states require a set amount of post-placement visits to occur with the adoptive family and their new child before an adoption can be finalized. These visits typically occur once a month until the finalization of the adoption. Some adoption agencies or adoption professionals will charge per post-placement visit or may charge one flat fee. The agency my husband and I used charged $1,500 for six post-placement visits.
You have your home study, and you have chosen your placement agency. Now, it’s now time to work on more paperwork and begin the immigration process. Unlike domestic adoption, intercountry adoption requires you to file the appropriate paperwork so that your new child can enter the U.S. and become a citizen. The first step is filing the I800A or the I600a, depending on if the country is a signer of the Hague Convention. Applying for the I800A/I600A also comes with a price tag. Currently, the application fee is $775. Plus, you get to pay for more fingerprinting, so include $85 for each person in your household who is or soon will be over 18.
In any type of adoption where travel is needed, there will be travel expenses incurred above and beyond just transportation. Prospective adoptive parents will need to obtain lodging and food while they are away. In cases involving ICPC where prospective adoptive parents will need to stay in the child’s home state until they are cleared to go home, there is no set time line. Prospective adoptive parents do not know if they will need to find lodging and food for days or possibly weeks while they wait for ICPC to clear. The travel expenses incurred in adoption can easily enter thousands of dollars depending on the circumstances surrounding the adoption.
Before we attempt to shed some light on this difficult reality, we must first acknowledge foremost the divine beauty that embodies the miracle of adoption. Beyond the challenges (both financially and otherwise) that adoption can present, adoption at its core is a life-changing journey that not only restores hope to a waiting child, but also exemplifies God’s love for His children. The power of this miraculous journey can be seen through the testimonies of so many families and children who have been impacted by Show Hope’s adoption aid grants, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy process. In an attempt to shed some light as to why adoption can be such a costly endeavor, we will focus on five main areas of financial expense that relate to adoption.

7. You'll probably be asked lots of personal questions. Friends, relatives, coworkers, and even people on the street may ask questions about your adoption, particularly if you've adopted from overseas and your child doesn't look like you. Many of the questions or comments are probably well intentioned, but they may seem rude or too personal, especially when asked in front of an older child. (Adoptive parents have been asked, for instance, "How much did you pay for your baby?" "How could the birth mother 'give away' such an adorable child?" "Do you know anything about your child's 'real' family?" etc.)
Once you are approved to bring home an immigrant child, most countries will require you to create and submit a dossier. This is a document which tells the sending country about you, and that you have been proven to be a fit parent. Documents in the dossier can include doctor’s statements (yes, more doctor’s appointments), employment verification, birth, marriage, and divorce certificates (you’ll have to spring to get brand new ones), financial statements, photographs, and personal references. Every single item in your dossier will most likely need to go through the certification process at both the state and country levels, though some states also require an additional county certification. All of these various certifications cost money ranging from just $2 per document up to more than $40 per document. Once they are certified, you will probably need them to go to the consulate or embassy of the country you are adopting from and have them either authenticated or apostilled, depending on what is required. Once again, there is a fee per document to have this done. If you do not live in a city with an embassy or consulate, you will also need to make use of a courier to carry your documents in for you. Don’t forget to add in your FedEx account spending to overnight these precious documents back and forth. You’ve worked too hard on them to lose them in the mail! For those adding up numbers, figure somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000 for paperwork costs.
A few people have pointed out that nobody does background checks on parents giving birth, there’s no certification that natural parents have to go through. And that’s true. But that’s kind of an odd question. I can’t help but wonder if the people who ask that question want those kind of policies in place. Should we have an authoritarian system in place, one that would encroach on citizen’s rights even more so than China’s one-child policy? Starts to sound like 1984 or Brave New World.

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Elaine E. Schulte, MD, MPH, FAAP is a board certified pediatrician and Professor of Pediatrics at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. She is the Medical Director of the Adoption Program at Cleveland Clinic Children's and has cared for hundreds of families and children touched by adoption. She also provides pre-adoption consultation service through MyConsult. Within the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Schulte sits on the Executive Committee of the Council on Foster Care, Adoption, and Kinship Care. She is the parent of two children adopted from China.
According to Ellison, another resource many people don't even think to investigate is their own employer. Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DFTA) publishes a list every year of the 100 most adoption-friendly workplaces, but even if your company's not on the list, it's still worth asking your HR department. According to the DTFA, 52 percent of companies surveyed offer a financial adoption benefit. (And if you want to establish adoption benefits at your company, DTFA offers a free kit to do so.) There are also grants available, ranging from $1,000 to $15,000. Ellison says that many of these are faith-based, based on financial need, or for adopting children with special needs. These grants tend to be incredibly competitive, with "literally hundreds of families applying for the same money." You can start applying at Helpusadopt.org, Resources 4 Adoption, or International Adoption Center, or see if your agency partners with Your Adoption Finance Coach.
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