Sue Kuligowski is a staff storyteller at Adoption.com. The mother of two girls through adoption, she is a proposal coordinator, freelance writer/editor, and an adoption advocate. When she's not writing or editing, she can be found supervising sometimes successful glow-in-the-dark experiments, chasing down snails in the backyard, and attempting to make sure her girls are eating more vegetables than candy.
If you're looking to adopt, you'll have to pay an attorney, an agency, or both. The transfer of a human into your custody is a big deal with lots of paperwork, and you need a professional. Their average costs, according to Adoptive Families, are within spitting distance of each other: about $13,000 for attorney fees, and $17,000 for an agency (though these numbers change drastically depending on your state, agency/attorney, and situation). You also very well might be working with both an attorney and an agency concurrently, which means you'd pay both.
If they get into a car accident in Florida and the child has to be hospitalized, the non-biological mother is a legal stranger to the child. In cases where a lesbian couple conceives a child via co-IVF, meaning one spouse carries the other spouse's egg, the biological (but non-gestational) mother is the legal stranger. The only way to guarantee nationwide parental rights for a non-biological or non-gestational parent is by an adoption order. Even a state that doesn’t want to recognize same-sex marriages will still recognize an adoption order. But it won't come cheap.
Secondly, adoption requires a lot of legal hoops, and for good reason. A lot of what you’re paying for is the peace of mind that the child you adopt is now fully and legally yours. If you don’t follow all the proper legal procedures, if the birth mother isn’t fully aware of her rights, if she doesn’t sign the right documents or isn’t told the right thing at the right time, if you haven’t dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s than the new child you adopted could be taken away. A judge could declare the adoption null and void and you lose. How much would that suck?
Special needs. Special needs cats include senior cats with ailments that are common to aging, blind, deaf, or disabled cats, and those with chronic health conditions. While your heart might go out to such a cat at the shelter, it's important to bear in mind that cats with special needs will need more of your time and attention, and might also need regular veterinary care and medication that can be costly. Before taking on such a challenge, be honest with yourself about whether there's room in both your schedule and your budget to realistically accommodate the cat's needs.

One of the first questions asked when considering adoption is “How much does adoption cost?” Unfortunately there is no a simple answer. Every adoption is unique and fees vary based upon the type of adoption you choose to pursue. Public agencies also known as State agencies locate and prepare adoptive families to adopt children from foster care. These adoption matches are typically arranged by the agency and the placement committee and are based on the needs of the child and the ability of the family to meet the needs of the child or children. The cost of adoption through a public agency is usually minimal and are paid for through tax dollars.
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.”
These fees vary greatly depending on which agency and country you choose. Additionally, international adoption is often expensive due to the travel involved. You may have host fees, which include the expenses related to your adoption facilitator in-country, airline fees, hotel fees, and cab or driver fees. Once you return home, you may wish to readopt your child. Though your child is legally adopted in his or her country of origin, readoption refers to the legal process through which your child may be re-recognized as your legal child.
Secondly, adoption requires a lot of legal hoops, and for good reason. A lot of what you’re paying for is the peace of mind that the child you adopt is now fully and legally yours. If you don’t follow all the proper legal procedures, if the birth mother isn’t fully aware of her rights, if she doesn’t sign the right documents or isn’t told the right thing at the right time, if you haven’t dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s than the new child you adopted could be taken away. A judge could declare the adoption null and void and you lose. How much would that suck?
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.
Many shelters have adoption counselors on staff who can help match you with the right cat. If no counselors are available, you can still talk to shelter staff and volunteers who have spent time with each cat and gotten to know their personalities. If you're on your own, it can be difficult to gauge a cat's true personality when meeting her for the first time in a shelter environment, as this can be a stressful situation for the cat and she may adjust her behavior accordingly.
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. 

Probably the most common questions asked in adoption: "How much does it cost to adopt a child?" or "What is the cost of adoption?" Not all adoption processes are the same and each one has its own expenses. In a domestic adoption, expenses may include legal representation for the adoptive and birth parent(s), medical costs, counseling, rent, phone and travel for the birth parent(s), and travel, court, Home Study and networking/advertising costs for the adoptive parent(s). In an international adoption , there are agency or attorney fees plus the applications to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. In the country from which the child will immigrate, there are legal and agency costs, court, medical and document and translation costs, donations to the child welfare center and local travel.
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.

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.


I know these numbers seem staggering and you probably think you cannot afford to adopt a child, but there are ways to “offset” some of these expenses. As I mentioned earlier in the article, talk with a tax professional to discuss what options may be available for in regards to the adoption tax credit and/or adoption assistance programs. You may also be able to apply for grants. A simple Google search for “adoption grants” will result in hundreds of possibilities. Applying for grants takes time, however, it usually pays off in the end. You may also be able to apply for a no-interest or low-interest loan to cover your adoption expenses. There are several online resources for that as well. Get creative with fundraising. I know it seems silly to be asking people to help pay for a child, however, you will be surprised at how willing people are to help you. Have a garage sale. Have a bake sale. Create an online shop for something you make by hand. Start a 5k run/walk. Provide concessions at events. The possibilities really are endless, you just have to be willing to try. 
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.
I stood near her at Starbucks, this woman who was so well-dressed and well-combed and well-showered, and I tried not to think about my own ensemble of dry sweat and yoga pants. She crossed her legs and I noticed that her thighs barely touched each other. One of her high-heel-clad feet swung gently back and forth as she smiled. She lifted one perfectly plucked eyebrow in query as she waited for my answer.
Consider your family makeup as well. If you have small children or other pets, for example, you'll need to look for an easy-going, friendly cat that is well-socialized to deal with people and other animals. It might also be best to look for an older cat, unless you're able to provide constant supervision. Kittens, while super cute, are also fragile and prone to injury from grabby little hands or impatient older animals.
It can be hard to let people know that you are funding your adoption, and AdoptionLife.org understands that. Let your friends and family know that they can donate to AdoptionLife.org and the donations raised help families like yours, adopt. The funds go toward helping families with the expenses of your adoption. In addition, their donation to AdoptionLife is tax-deductible. For some, there comes peace of mind knowing that their funds go directly toward your agency. We are here to help you make funding your adoption go as smoothly as possible. Some agencies have simple platforms such as Amazon Smiles or Facebook Donation that can help you raise money. Check with your agency to obtain more details about how they can help you raise funds. 
Kitten or adult cat. Kittens are hard to resist, and you might have your heart set on one. Just keep in mind that kittens are extremely energetic and require a lot of time and patience. A kitten's temperament can also be hard to predict, as it will change as the kitten matures into an adult. If you prefer a cat with specific temperament traits, it's best to choose one that is mature. Older shelter cats tend to be calmer and often have the advantage of already being litter box trained, socialized, and acclimated to being members of a household. Also, keep in mind that kittens grow up much more quickly than human babies. Most kittens will reach maturity and become an adult within a year's time.
Families who adopt from foster care usually adopt from a county, state, territory, or tribal public child welfare agency. Adopting a child from foster care is often funded by the state, and in most cases there are few or no fees. Parents may choose to hire a private agency to help them through this process. These families could incur out-of-pocket expenses, which they can typically recoup from federal or state programs after the adoption is finalized.

Private domestic adoption costs vary from adoption to adoption and state to state. An agency fee ranges from $15,000 – 30,000. Additional costs for birth parent expenses (i.e. medical, rent, living expenses, phone, etc.) are set on a case-by-case basis. The adopting parent(s) pays for the Adoption Home Study and Post Placement Supervisory Visits, travel, as well as legal counsel for themselves and the birth parent(s). Private placement adoption costs are between $25,000 – 50,000.


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.)
How much of the cost actually goes to legal fees? Im going into my second yr of law school and would like to adopt in about 3-4 years. Once I pass the bar I will be able to do most of the legal work myself, but coming from the foster system I would love to do pro bono work. Is this type of work something that is needed for lower income families? Are there not lawyers who are willing to do the work for free or on at a discount? Do you have a break down of what legal fees you paid? Sorry for all the questions

Adopting Parents pursuing private US newborn adoptions are warned of the possibilities of an adoption opportunity disrupting. This is a heartbreaking event and for Adopting Parents an adoption disruption can leave them in a situation where they have paid for a Birth Mother’s expenses and are now unable to complete the adoption. Financially, this can be further devastating if they now find themselves unable to move forward with another adoption opportunity because of their inability to pay for additional Birth Mother expenses.


In considering your original cat’s personality, your shy cat could be overwhelmed by a bossy cat, and your bossy house cat may be likely to bully a shy newcomer. It is possible to successfully introduce cats. Sometimes adding a cat to the family is unavoidable. If you’re getting married, for example, and if you both have cats, then the merger is a must.

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.


Let’s now break down what the costs are in adoption, starting with intercountry (or international) adoption. The first step in nearly any adoption process is having a home study completed. For intercountry adoptions, you will need to make sure that the home study agency you choose is licensed to write home studies for the country you wish to adopt from. This may mean that you cannot use the least expensive agency, so be aware of that. A home study written for an international adoption is usually around $2,000 to $4,000 dollars. This is what you will pay your agency, but there are most costs as well. You will need to be fingerprinted, which can generally cost about $60 per person. (Your state will probably vary.) You will also need to have physicals and often a TB test done—which, depending on your insurance, will cost you out of pocket. If you live in a more rural area and use water from a well on your property, you will also have to pay to have your well water tested. Finally, if you live outside a certain distance from your adoption agency, you may also have to pay a travel reimbursement to your agency for your social worker’s travel costs.
4. Some people will treat you like you are not a real family. Our first social worker—I said SOCIAL WORKER—was pregnant.  She constantly communicated to us that while she was forming a family, we were apparently playing house.  When she did a home visit, 8 months pregnant, she stopped at the nursery and said, “Oh…hmmmm…I guess I wouldn’t recommend setting up room for a child since, you know, you might not get one.” Before firing her, I asked, “Do you have a nursery set up?” “Yes,” she said, pointing to her swollen belly, “But, you know, mine’s a sure thing.” Ouch.
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I stood near her at Starbucks, this woman who was so well-dressed and well-combed and well-showered, and I tried not to think about my own ensemble of dry sweat and yoga pants. She crossed her legs and I noticed that her thighs barely touched each other. One of her high-heel-clad feet swung gently back and forth as she smiled. She lifted one perfectly plucked eyebrow in query as she waited for my answer.

For foster care adoptions in the US, Adopting Parents will have little or no out of pocket expenses. Typically, the children available for adoption through the foster care system are older children and the adoption is often funded by the state. Some Adopting Parents may hire a private agency to help them through the process but these costs are often reimbursed through federal or state programs after the finalization of the adoption.
"We have about 1,000 American families that have either adopted or are in the process of adopting children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but we can't get clearance for the kids to leave the country," Dempsey says. "We don't know why. We had about a dozen children die during this process. Right now, families are moving to the Congo to raise the children they've adopted"

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.


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.
When you are comparing costs of adoption professionals, make sure you understand what your adoption process will look like from beginning to end and get a detailed description of the services covered so that you can make an accurate comparison. For example: Is the adoption professional limited to working in a specific state or do they work nationwide? Does the adoption professional handle all of the marketing/networking efforts to find a Birth Mother or is that something you will be required to do partly/completely on your own? Is the adoption professional quoting only its service fees or are they including any and all 3rd party costs?
In domestic adoption, each state regulates how much and which birth parent expenses an adoptive parent can pay. Counseling should be offered to the birth parent and varying amounts of counsel can be paid for by the adopting parent(s). In an international adoption, donations may be made to child welfare institutions or orphanages to help care for the children still in care.
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.

Agency Fee: This fee covers administrative and professional services provided by the agency in connection with the adoption. It includes the cost of training, documentation preparation and authentication, counseling and support for adoptive parents and birth families, matching services, personnel, Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children administration, overhead, and legal consultation. Each agency has their own policies, but if a match does not result in a placement or a placement is disrupted, AdoptionLife.org rolls the agency fees over to another adoption situation.


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.
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.
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