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? 

Like the first-time pregnant woman who remains blissfully and intentionally naive about the pains of childbirth, my husband and I sat in many an adoption class grinning wryly at one another. “It’s not going to be like that for us,” said the grin. Except it was like that for us. It was like that in ways that even the classes, taught by qualified adoption professionals, could not have convinced us.


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.)
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.
"In many states, we can determine that someone is eligible to buy a gun in less than 4 hours," Craig Juntunen—founder and CEO of the global advocacy organization Both Ends Burning and executive producer of the documentary STUCK—told BuzzFeed Life. "But during the 3 years that an adoptive family is being proven eligible, the adoptive child is losing developmental days that they will never get back." 

Someone can give us a break down of who charges for what and how much, but the real reason why adoption is so expensive is because people who can’t have children on their own are desperate for children and are willing to pay whatever they have to pay, and all of the people involved in the adoption industry are aware of that. That’s the real reason why adoption is so expensive.


Birth Mother expenses also widely vary depending on a specific Birth Mother’s needs and what is allowed by state law. Most Birth Mothers are in a situation where they will need some financial assistance from the Adopting Parents. In most states, Adopting Parents can expect to pay a Birth Mother’s reasonable medical, living, legal and counseling expenses.

Coat color. Regardless of hair length, cats shed. If you're someone who has a pristine white or light-colored living room and wish to keep it that way, you probably wouldn't be happy with a dark-colored cat. Similarly, if your wardrobe includes a lot of black or navy and you plan to cuddle your kitty, you should probably skip a white or light-colored cat.


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.

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.


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.
For certain organizations, there are limitations on who can adopt. Adoptive parents must be in good health and able to pass a background check, and some agencies require a significant age difference between the family and the adoptee. Certain agencies may have more stringent requirements than others, so be sure to contact multiple organizations before making a final decision.
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.
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.

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.
An agency adoption is an adoption that occurs through a licensed child-placing agency. The agency will facilitate the adoption process and can possibly be advocating for the birth mother and the adoptive family. This is the type of adoption we utilized with the adoption of our son. Our social worker advocated for our son’s birth mom and prepared us for the adoption process. 
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.

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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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