While the overall figures may seem daunting, prospective adoptive parents should explore all adoption options and the associated costs for each. In some cases, the total costs may be much less than the average figures cited in the section below; resources may also be available to help offset all or many costs. These are discussed at the end of this factsheet.

Temperament and personality. Do you prefer a cat that is friendly and outgoing, or one that keeps more to herself? Does she need to get along well with children or other pets, or will she be an only cat? Do you want her to be energetic and playful, or more calm and laid back? Would you like her to be talkative or would you rather she be quiet? These characteristics have a lot more bearing on how happy you'll be with your new kitty than superficial traits like what her coat looks like, so it's important to determine your preferences before visiting the shelter. Luckily shelters allow and encourage you to interact with the cats before adopting in a cat-designated room. This will help you better determine her temperament. If she is open and apt to playing with toys, she probably is pretty outgoing. If she hides in the corner, she probably will take some time to warm up to you. If she is very friendly, purring and letting you pet her, she is likely a great cuddle buddy.
The majority of international adoptions are done through adoption agencies. They have detailed explanations of fees and when payments are due. There are additional fees for the Adoption Home Study and Post Placement/Adoption Supervisory Visits, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service applications and travel. International adoption may cost between $30,000 - 80,000.
There are many options out there for covering adoption costs. Some people have worked a second job, made significant cuts in their spending, or saved for several years in order to finance an adoption. Others have taken out loans, borrowed against their 401K, or taken advantage of an employer’s adoption benefits. Adoption grants are out there, but there are far more applicants than funds available, so grants cannot be counted on for funding. Finally, some people do fundraise, though within the adoption community, this has a very mixed reception. And remember, as you will see, some forms of adoption cost less than others. If you qualify for adopting from foster care, and that is something that fits your family, then it can be an affordable adoption option.
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.
As for your comments on adoption, yes it is expensive. And no there shouldn’t be a price on a human life. But as I’ve explained above, repeatedly, there are serious issues and honest reasons that require certain costs. The legal work involved in bringing a child into your family is no small thing. Someone has to do that work. Someone has to pay for it. Maybe our system is screwed up, and there are broken things about it, but that reality is true: things cost money and it has to come from somewhere.
State law varies in regard to minor parents' rights; however, in no State could a child be placed for adoption without the minor parent's consent. In some States, minor parents are able to place their child for adoption without additional consent. In other States, the pregnant minor's parents or guardian would also need to consent to an adoption. The Child Welfare Information Gateway publication Consent to Adoption has more information. To determine how these laws would apply in a specific situation, it may be helpful to contact an attorney familiar with adoption law in your State.
There are a number of ways for families to mitigate the cost of adoption, and some adoption professionals are working to make it easier for families to afford. Many of these forms of assistance are via reimbursement after the fact, so there are still plenty of up-front costs. Ellison estimates that adoptive parents "will have to pay 85 percent of the total cost of your adoption. The rest can come from loans, grants, personal fundraising, special events, and other gifts."

 – Agency Fee – The agency fee is whatever your agency charges to act as your adoption agency. These fees can range from $1,000 to $15,000. This is where it is hard to say just how much an adoption costs because there is such a wide spectrum of amounts charged. I can tell you our agency fee was $3,000, a little on the lesser side, but we loved our social worker and loved working with the agency we did. 


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There are many ways to locate a child to adopt, and this is an area where you can control the expenses. The least expensive way to find a child or pregnant woman is by word of mouth networking. Tell everyone you know you are looking to adopt. Hand out business type cards. Free newspapers are another way to go; then there are other newspaper publications. Some people use the Internet, posting profiles and creating their own website. The most expensive way to go is to use a consultant who designs and executes your networking campaign.
Part of what drives up agency costs is the fact that adoption professionals need to specialize. For instance, as a birth parent, I had a social worker who only worked with birth parents, and my son's adoptive parents had a social worker who only worked with adoptive parents. This prevented a conflict of interest for our social workers; mine didn't have pre-adoptive parents whispering in her ear. As Kelly Ellison of Your Adoption Finance Coach puts it, “Each professional involved in the process does a specific job, and that's how the prices go up.”
Although adoption expenses can often seem insurmountable at first, many families find comfort in discovering that there are many fundraising options available to assist them. Show Hope was founded out of a desire to reduce the financial barrier to adoption and to see more waiting children have the opportunity to find their way into loving families through adoption. Through Show Hope’s adoption aid program, thousands of waiting children have been able to come into the love and permanency of a family over the first ten years of Show Hope’s work. It is an incredible blessing to have a small part in a child’s home and for that privilege we are deeply thankful! These miracles are not possible without the continued partnership and generous support of our sponsors and donors.

One of the biggest hurdles many prospective adoptive parents face is the cost of adoption. A poll of family and friends revealed the perceived cost of adoption to be between $5,000 and $10,000. The reality is private-agency domestic adoption ranges from $20,000 to $45,000, and international adoption ranges from $20,000 to $50,000. With so many children in need of forever homes, you have to wonder: Why is adoption so expensive?
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