I’m sorry you’ve had poor experiences with adoption agencies, but that doesn’t mean they’re all terrible. Researching agencies is one of the most important things you can do–there’s a lot of unethical agencies out there, a lot of people doing illegal and immoral things. And it can be a lot to wade through, trying to figure out you can trust. But it’s a job you have to do. And if you don’t like their fees or you think they’re being unethical, leave.

While families often pay extremely high fees to adopt infants, whether independently or through a private agency, adopting a waiting child is one way to reduce the cost of adoption dramatically. If a family plans to adopt a U.S. child who is in foster care through a public agency, the public agency in the family's county or state will often complete the homestudy at no cost. Adoptive parent preparation classes may be provided as part of the homestudy process. If the waiting child resides in the same county or state as the family, the costs of post-placement supervision may also be covered by the family's agency.
If you adopt a child from foster care, you're eligible for a monthly government subsidy — an average of $846 a month, according to Adoptive Families. There is also sometimes a one-time reimbursement available, which ranges from $400-$2,000 depending on the state, as well as health coverage through Medicaid, and sometimes college tuition. Also, if you adopt a child with special needs through an agency, some agencies will waive their fees. (In the context of foster care, "special needs" refers not only to medical conditions and/or disabilities, but also to children who are older, not white, part of a sibling group, or some other combination of factors that have made them "difficult to place" for adoption. Each state defines "special needs" differently.)
Parents.com is part of the Parents Network. © Copyright 2019 Meredith Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policythis link opens in a new tab Data Policythis link opens in a new tab Terms of Servicethis link opens in a new tab Ad Choicesthis link opens in a new tab EU Data Subject Requeststhis link opens in a new tab Cookie Preferencesthis link opens a modal window Web Accessibilitythis link opens in a new tab

The first expense related to adoption is the fees associated with becoming eligible to adopt a child. The majority of the answers to the question, “Why is adoption so expensive?” will be answered with this eligibility process. To become eligible to adopt, most prospective adoptive parents will need to hire an adoption agency or adoption attorney to guide them through the adoption process. To begin the journey with one of these adoption professionals, many will require some sort of retainer or application fee. This fee can vary tremendously, but as an example, one attorney quoted a $700 retainer fee upfront to be hired for an adoption process. One of the agencies my husband and I looked into required a $300 application fee to being the process with their adoption agency.


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.

This is a tax credit offered to adoptive parents to encourage their adoption. The United States International Revenue code offers a credit for “qualified adoption expenses” paid or incurred by individual taxpayers. The credit apply’s for all types of adoption except step-parent adoption and is available in the  year the adoption is finalized. In 2017, the maximum adoption tax credit was $13,570 per child. The amount changes year over year due to inflation. Talk with your tax adviser to understand more about the Adoption Tax Credit and how it can work for you. The Adoption Tax Credit is not refundable, but it does provide financial assistance to many families each year.
For private domestic adoption, whether you work independently or with an agency, you can expect advertising fees. Advertising fees may include classified ads, video production, or the construction of a website. You may choose to do this independently or work with a consultant. Consultants cost more but may yield better results and quicker matches. There are legal fees for both the adoptive family and the birth mother (which the adoptive family usually cover), document authentication fees for the compilation of your home study, and required legal document filing. Birth mother fees may include medical expenses, living expenses, counseling, and prenatal and postnatal care. Once the child is born, there will be airline and hotel fees, which vary greatly depending on where the birth mother resides.
Once you've answered these questions, you can begin your research on which dog breeds would best meet the needs of your family. While doing this, you should also research shelter dogs and the hurdles that you may face by adopting one. I'm not trying to talk anyone out of adopting, but caring for a shelter dog for years to come is more than just a one-time save-a-life-and-forget-it thing. You need to be sure that you know what you're getting yourself into before you bring your new furry friend home.

 – Medical appointments and financial documents – Your agency will require you to have a physical exam, any cost associated with the exam is paid out of pocket in addition to any fees paid to the agency. The same goes for any financial documents you may need. If there is a charge in obtaining them, you are responsible for those costs out of pocket. 
 – 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. 
About Family and Friends - ArticlesCan (and Should) a Family Member Adopt My Baby After Delivery?The 16 Most Important People in Your Adoption PlanDealing with Unsupportive Parents and Other Family Members"If I Want to Choose Adoption, Can I Be Forced to Keep My Baby?"Are You Being Pressured to Put Your Baby Up for Adoption? How to Create a Strong Adoption Support SystemHow to Talk About Placing a Child for AdoptionPreparing for How Family Members May React to Your NewsCan a Friend or Someone I Already Know Adopt My Baby?What is the Role of the Birth Grandparents in an Adoption Plan?More . . .

Adoption cost varies drastically between different modes of adoption. Location, agency costs, private attorney costs, foster care benefits, and international concerns such as travel or translation are all factors that affect the overall price of an adoption. Below are the average costs for most if not all of the expenses included in the typical types of adoption available to prospective parents.
4. You won't be sending out traditional "birth" announcements. Of course that's not to say that you won't be announcing your child's adoption in a special way. Some parents send out handwritten cards or notes, detailing some of the highlights of their child's adoption (such as where he was born, his birth name, his family name, the date he was born, the date he was adopted, etc.). Others order special adoption announcements, which they personalize with facts about their family. Whichever method you choose, be sure to include a photo of your child and his new family members.

The first expense related to adoption is the fees associated with becoming eligible to adopt a child. The majority of the answers to the question, “Why is adoption so expensive?” will be answered with this eligibility process. To become eligible to adopt, most prospective adoptive parents will need to hire an adoption agency or adoption attorney to guide them through the adoption process. To begin the journey with one of these adoption professionals, many will require some sort of retainer or application fee. This fee can vary tremendously, but as an example, one attorney quoted a $700 retainer fee upfront to be hired for an adoption process. One of the agencies my husband and I looked into required a $300 application fee to being the process with their adoption agency.
Costs of adopting may be minimal or can total more than $40,000, depending on a number of factors. The chart below outlines some general categories of adoption and costs associated with the services provided. The wide range reflects the multitude of factors that can affect costs, including the type of adoption, type of placement agency or facilitator, and child’s age and circumstances. Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to check with the agencies they are considering to find out more about specific costs for their circumstances.
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.

Just two months after giving birth to the son I had placed for adoption, I received an email from my adoption agency addressed to "Dear Prospective Adoptive Parent." It was full of info that would, indeed, have been very useful had I been looking to adopt a child, but as a birth mother, I was on the exact opposite end of that equation. I'd apparently been placed on the wrong email list. And this info included a notification of just how expensive adoption is, including said agency's fees. At the time (2012), the fee paid by an adoptive family for a domestic adoption was $30,000 — the same amount I was making per year at the time. (Today, the fee is $36,000.)
Non-identifying details about the birth parents (including their general background, education, employment, armed services history; social or medical risk factors, drug usage, medical and mental health history, other children, and extended birth family history). Also inquire about the birth mother’s care during pregnancy, and any risk factors for the child due to the mother’s experiences during pregnancy or complications during delivery.
One of the biggest ways to offset your adoption bill is with the tax credit. You can receive up to $13,460 per child in reimbursement for "qualified adoption expenses," and this number goes up every year. Also, you don't have to claim it all in one year; if you claimed $3,000 in 2014, then you can still claim the remaining $10,460 credit by 2018. Some states have tax credits as well. Ellison stresses the importance of finding an accountant or CPA who knows how to apply these credits. For instance, Bills Tax Service in Illinois specializes in this credit and will do taxes for families anywhere in the country. Active-duty members of the military can also receive reimbursement of up to $2,000 per child for adoption costs.
Unlike with other types of adoption, Adopting Parents that adopt through foster care may also receive federal and/or state adoption assistance, which can include medical assistance and monthly maintenance payments. This assistance is made available to parents that adopt through foster care to ensure that finances do not prevent them from adopting and to ensure that a child’s special needs are met until they become legal adults.
When an adoption is handled by an adoption agency, the agency will typically include all adoption process fees in their fee schedule. They will also likely have their own team of attorneys or have certain attorneys contracted to handle much of the legal proceedings of adoption. The adoption agency will also likely provide its own representation for the expectant mother and work with her on the adoption proceedings. However, some adoption agencies do not provide unbiased representation for the expectant mother. If this is the case or when working with an adoption attorney, it is often advisable and often required for the prospective adoptive family to hire outside legal counsel for the expectant mother. This is done to ensure that the expectant mother is informed of her rights in adoption and also allows for a more ethical adoption process. The fees for outside legal counsel for an expectant mother can vary greatly and can easily top $5,000.
International adoption is the adoption of a child born in another country than the one in which you reside. International adoption also has a very wide range of fees, as each country has their own fee scale and traveling to each country varies. The average international adoption can range from $30,000 to well over $50,000. Similar to the agency adoption costs above, international adoptions will require the following fees: 

If you want to help change the system, join others who are already working in that area. Contact the parent groups in your area (find a database of groups at this link) to find out what they are doing or if they know of other advocacy groups you can get involved with. To report a specific problem, contact your adoption manager or the NACAC representative in your state. You may also want to contact one of AdoptUsKids’ Training and Technical Assistance consultants (a directory of staff and consultants is available at AdoptUsKids: Permanency - Tools and Resources).
Lita Jordan is a master of all things "home." A work-from-home, stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five. She has a BA in Youth Ministry from Spring Arbor University. She is married to the "other Michael Jordan" and lives on coffee and its unrealistic promises of productivity. Lita enjoys playing guitar and long trips to Target. Follow her on Facebook.
Discusses the common elements of the home study process and addresses some questions prospective adoptive parents may have about the process. Specific home study requirements and processes vary greatly from agency to agency, State to State, and (in the case of intercountry adoption) by the child's country of origin. They are also subject to change.
×