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.
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? 

In cases of domestic infant adoption, prospective adoptive parents may be obligated to pay birth mother expenses. These birth mother expenses are typically defined as any pregnancy-related expenses that need to be covered during the expectant mother’s pregnancy and for a short period after the birth of her child. These expenses often include maternity clothes, medical care related to the pregnancy, and often some living expenses such as utility bills and rent. There are states in which birth mother expenses are not required and others where the amount is regulated. There are also some situations in which the birth mother may choose to waive the acceptance of birth mother expense compensation. You can find out more about birth mother expenses in your state at this link.
Provides a basic understanding of the different types of adoption and guides readers to relevant resources. It begins by describing the different types of adoption and goes on to discuss State laws governing adoption, choosing an agency or adoption services provider, completing the home study, being matched with a child, and completing the necessary legal documents.
My son's adoptive parents didn't pay any of these expenses for me when I was a birth mother; my agency covered my medical bills and gave me a MetroCard every time I visited them. (My son's parents paid the agency a flat fee; my costs weren't broken down and passed onto them.) As broke as I was, I’m glad I wasn’t receiving any further assistance from the adoptive family, as I think it would have made my decision murkier and more difficult. However, whether through an attorney or an agency, birth-mother expenses cost adoptive families an average of $4,000-$5,000.
After the legwork of adoption eligibility is completed, the adoption cost moving forward will largely depend on if the prospective adoptive parents are already matched or need to be matched. If the prospective adoptive parents need to be matched with a birth mother, the agency or attorney will often require a match fee. This fee allows for the agency or attorney to work, on the prospective adoptive parent’s behalf, to advertise them to expectant mothers as a potential placement for their child. There will also likely be birth mother expenses that prospective adoptive parents are obligated to pay under their state law. These expenses go towards pregnancy-related expenses such as medical care, maternity clothes, and some living expenses. The adoption cost related to birth mother expenses will be determined by the state and may be waived in some instances. Some states put a cap on the amount of birth parent expenses that are allowed. To see what birth mother expenses your state requires, you can review that information on this link.
Provides a basic understanding of the different types of adoption and guides readers to relevant resources. It begins by describing the different types of adoption and goes on to discuss State laws governing adoption, choosing an agency or adoption services provider, completing the home study, being matched with a child, and completing the necessary legal documents.
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.

Home studies take three-six months to complete and run roughly $1,000-$3,000. This cost goes up if the home study is international, since more paperwork is involved to comply with international regulations; it shrinks to $300-500 if the child is being adopted from foster care. (This is because the social worker conducting the home study is being paid by a public agency in foster care cases, as opposed to a private agency or directly by the pre-adoptive parents.) Sometimes, if the social worker determines in the process of the home study that the prospective parents require additional training (courses aimed at handling adoption from a sensitive and informed place with your new family), that can cost another several hundred dollars.

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.
Home studies are also required for the second parent in second-parent adoptions, even if both parents have raised the child since birth. Think of it like this: If I'm the biological or gestational mom of our daughter and I'm married to a woman, my wife still has to go through much of the same process to adopt our daughter as a perfect stranger would. So even if our daughter is 5 years old and has lived with both of us that whole time, my wife has to go through a home study and have a background check and have a social worker come to our home, just as she would if she'd never met the child.
Breaking down the total cost into categorized expenses helps prospective parents understand what is involved and how to determine a predictable range for their costs. In some cases, understanding the costs associated with different types of adoption may help parents decide which type of adoption to pursue, or whether to pursue this approach to building a family.
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.
The process tries to be very transparent so that it can’t be seen as a human trafficking endeavor. As I’ve tried to explain above (probably poorly), there’s a lot involved in taking the responsibility of another’s child. That’s a huge step, and it doesn’t seem you can take that step without great cost. That kind of value for the child being adopted makes this the complete opposite of a child-for-sale situation.
Jennifer S. Jones is a writer, performer, storyteller, and arts educator. In a small government office in China, Jennifer became an adoptive mother. She is passionate about the adoption community and talks about the ins and outs, ups and downs, joys and “Is this really us?!?” whenever she can. She writes about her experiences at www.letterstojack.com.
When asked a question that feels too personal or improper, you have the right not to answer it -- particularly if it compromises your child's, the birth mother's, or your own privacy. But sometimes you can find a way to respond to a question that's in the best interest of your family and offers some important information about adoption. For instance, when asked "How much did you pay for your baby?" you can explain that the fees you paid your agency and/or orphanage (you don't have to disclose the amount) went toward the facilitation of your adoption and to the early care of your child. In a sense, they're similar to what a pregnant woman pays to her doctor and hospital, you can add.
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.
1. You may need to look for a "baby basics" class. Most women who give birth learn about the care, feeding, and basic development of babies in their childbirth class or at a class for expectant parents. If you're adopting a baby, however, this particular option won't be available to you. Fortunately, though, some hospitals, adoption agencies, and adoption-support groups now offer infant care and parenting classes to adoptive moms and dads. Ask your agency, local hospital, local chapter of Resolve, or other parent-support group for information.
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.)
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
In cases of domestic infant adoption, prospective adoptive parents may be obligated to pay birth mother expenses. These birth mother expenses are typically defined as any pregnancy-related expenses that need to be covered during the expectant mother’s pregnancy and for a short period after the birth of her child. These expenses often include maternity clothes, medical care related to the pregnancy, and often some living expenses such as utility bills and rent. There are states in which birth mother expenses are not required and others where the amount is regulated. There are also some situations in which the birth mother may choose to waive the acceptance of birth mother expense compensation. You can find out more about birth mother expenses in your state at this link.

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