Why does adoption cost so much? How do some families adopt at no cost? Questions about the costs of adopting are often one of the first questions that hopeful Adopting Parents looking to adopt ask. With so many different types of adoption programs and different costs associated with the process, one family’s cost to adopt may be completely different from another’s. Every adoption is unique and the costs will vary, but it is important that you get an understanding of all the services involved and a range of what fees may look like.
Find an Adoptive Family by Family Type - ArticlesFinding LBGT Adoptive FamiliesFind Opposite-Sex Couples Waiting to AdoptFinding a Single Parent to Adopt Your BabyFinding a Family with Children to Adopt My BabyFind a Family with No Children to Adopt My BabyHow to Find Married Couples Looking to Adopt a ChildShould I Consider Unmarried Couples Who Want to Adopt My Baby?
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.
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.

This home study costs money to maintain, as well. If there are any major life changes — a change to your living situation or employment, for instance — the home study has to be updated, which also costs money. It also has to be updated periodically (typically every 12 months, but the exact timeline depends on the state, until you get a child or decide to let it expire) in order to remain current. This, again, costs money — as much as $1,000 each time.


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.
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.
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.
In this guide, you will understand more about the cost of an adoption, the associated fees and what they are for. Also, we have compiled a guide with a list of ideas on ways to fund your adoption and will send you additional ideas and details on a monthly basis. Simply leave us your email and you will get monthly content to help you overcome this obstacle.

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.

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.
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.
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. 
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: 

 – Legal Fees – Even if you are working with an agency, you will be required to pay legal fees or attorney fees. Again, make sure you know what your agency expects you to pay out of pocket ahead of time. We, too, had to hire an attorney for our adoption (our agency uses the same one every time) and paid an additional approximately $3,000 for attorney’s fees. There are also filing fees associated with adoptions. Again, make sure you know if you have to pay these out of pocket or if they are included in the agency fee. 


American Adoptions accepts a limited number of families into our gender-specific program. Please contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn whether we are currently accepting families into this program. With this option, families pay an additional Gender-Specific Fee to help our agency locate and work with birth mothers meeting this additional criterion. This fee is in addition to other program fees and covers additional advertising. The fee is not considered part of your adoption budget. Please note that gender specificity will likely increase your wait time significantly.

Every birth parent should meet with an objective counselor who can discuss parenting and adoption options. If they decide on an adoption, they should be able to work with a counselor who will oversee their medical care, be the liaison with the adoptive parent’s counselor or attorney regarding the birth parent’s needs and provide ongoing emotional support to the birth parent. 

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.
The adopting parent(s) need to pass an Adoption Home Study. A social worker will visit the home, meet with all family members and collect required documentation. Most states require the Home Study be conducted by a licensed agency, although some states allow a private social worker to conduct the Home Study. It is safer to go with an agency study, even if a private social worker can to it, because if you adopt a child from another state, they may require an agency Home Study. In that scenario, you would need to begin again (losing time and money). Also it is prudent to confirm what other services the Home Study provider offers or if you can call with questions after the study is completed. Fees for the Home Study are set by the social worker or agency.
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. 
 – Birth mother expenses – Birth mother expenses are also paid out of pocket. The payment of birth mother expenses are regulated by each state, but they usually include medical, living, legal, and counseling expenses. These are unpredictable and vary from case to case. With our son’s adoption, we did not pay any additional expenses for his birth mother. 
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.
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.
AdoptUSKids is operated by the Adoption Exchange Association and is made possible by grant number 90CO1133 from the Children's Bureau. The contents of this website are solely the responsibility of the Adoption Exchange Association and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Children's Bureau, ACYF, ACF, or HHS. Find out more about us.
The information provided on this site is for general information purposes only. The information you obtain at this website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your own individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Use of this website or submission of an online form, does not create an attorney-client relationship. The hiring of a Texas-based attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements, informational videos, or an Internet website. This website is sponsored by Hardesty Law Office. Principal Office: 107 S. 4th Street Midlothian, Texas 76065.
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. 

Many adoption agencies and many states require that families complete adoptive parenting preparation classes or training. There may be no fee, as a public or private agency may cover this cost, especially if the family is adopting a waiting child. If not, this training may be included in the cost already paid for the homestudy, or the family may be expected to pay for it separately. Here are some possibilities for reducing or eliminating this cost:
Kids who interact with a kitten are bound to get scratched by a cat that is not yet socialized, and the child needs to be mature enough to understand this normal learning stage. Seniors may be better matched to a more mature cat. A cat that is used to quiet napping on the TV or other warm heat source or one that is happy being petted in a person's lap may be the better choice. 
While adoption can be quick and seamless, no two adoptions are the same and it can be difficult to predict how your situation will unfold. Families can spend anytime between a few weeks to several years waiting for the perfect match. Even when matched, there still may be emotional ups and downs. It can be disappointing and expensive to continue the process if you aren’t fully committed, so make sure this is something that you believe is worth the effort. 
×