In every State there are children with special needs waiting in foster care for adoptive families. The most recent data estimate that 126,000 children are available to be adopted from foster care. In the past, the costs of care and services were major obstacles to parents who would otherwise adopt and love these children, and most were not placed for adoption. The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 provided the first Federal subsidies to encourage the adoption of children from the nation's foster care system. These subsidies, known as adoption assistance, serve to minimize the financial obstacles to adoption. In addition, other types of assistance often are available to help with medical care or other services. Adoption assistance serves to remove barriers and contribute to an increase in adoption of children with special needs. This factsheet discusses this assistance by reviewing: Federal Title IV-E adoption assistance, State adoption assistance, and how to arrange adoption assistance.
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.
Attorneys are also necessary in second-parent adoptions, which are typically sought by stepparents and LGBT couples. Despite Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 granting marriage to same-sex couples, the parental rights of the non-biological or non-gestational parent are not always guaranteed, because states are not enforcing them uniformly. As attorney Andy Izenson puts it,
A: Thinking about adoption can be an exciting and overwhelming process, and with more than 125,000 children adopted in the United States each year, it's obviously become a popular option. Adoptive Families is an award-winning resource for parents-to-be navigating the adoption process and for parents raising children through adoption. Learn more about their How-to-Adopt and Adoption Parenting Network.  
These numbers include everything: travel, paperwork, agency, attorney, etc. China, Ethiopia, and South Korea are the only countries that AdoptiveFamilies.com publishes, because they are the most popular. While most other estimates for international adoption appear comparable, those numbers can sometimes go down significantly if a family is willing to adopt older children, sibling groups, or children with disabilities or medical needs. Here's how those expenses break down.
While many feel by charging for adoption services “you are putting a price tag on a child,” there are real costs associated with adoption. Adoptions through foster care are paid for through taxes. The public institutions get state and sometimes federal monies to make adoption plans and provide needed services, including monthly stipends to adopting families whose children qualify. In a private domestic or international adoption, the adopting parents typically pay for all services permitted by state and federal regulations.
While many feel by charging for adoption services “you are putting a price tag on a child,” there are real costs associated with adoption. Adoptions through foster care are paid for through taxes. The public institutions get state and sometimes federal monies to make adoption plans and provide needed services, including monthly stipends to adopting families whose children qualify. In a private domestic or international adoption, the adopting parents typically pay for all services permitted by state and federal regulations.

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.
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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. 
Whether the adoption is domestic or international, travel expense can usually be expected. Undoubtedly, travel for an international adoption can be quite expensive. In most international adoption cases, the family will visit the country and the child first. Then, once that country’s waiting period is over and the process is complete, the family will return to their child’s country of origin to complete the process and travel home with their child. The cost for this element of adoption varies widely based on time of travel and country of origin.
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.”
Was my comment not good enough for you? Well, here it is again. I agree with Randy and all of the other hurt, sad, angry comments. Adoption is unreasonably expensive. It is a game of popularity. Children deserve homes and loving families. Children should not have a price tag! Adoption agencies prices should be regulated. You, Kevin, are a pinheaded little hipster who thinks he is doing “God’s work”. Your new agey church is full of health and wealth preaching, but that’s not in my King James Bible. Yes, I’m desperate. I want a baby. I have been crushed by an adoption agency and one of its “volunteer mentors”. I have been driven down even further by other adoption agencies and the exorbitant adoption fees. My favorite: “We need to do your home study. We can’t accept the perfectly god home study that you have. It has to be done by our people. Oh, and that will cost you two to three times what you paid for your original home study.” Don’t tell me it isn’t about the money.
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).
6. Make absolutely sure that somebody is there to visit/greet you when you bring your child home. If you adopt internationally, make sure people are waiting to welcome you at that airport.  If you are coming home from the hospital or a foster home, make sure there are people who will come by and (appropriately) ooh and aah with you over your newest family member, whether the child is a few days old or 13.  You need this.  Trust me.  We arrived from Haiti to an empty airport.  The fact that we had just become parents did not feel special to us at all.

 Lastly, you will need to be sure you have dotted and crossed your legal i’s and t’s. If your child’s paperwork (mainly her certificate of citizenship) is not in the name she will be using, you will need to legally change her name to the correct one. This will most likely involve going through a readoption in your state. Some states require this step anyway, so you can do it at the same time. Other states have an administrative option for obtaining a Certificate of Foreign Birth, the equivalent of having a U.S. birth certificate. Readoptions can cost as much as $2,000 with the administrative options being less. To apply for a corrected Certificate of Citizenship, you will be asked to send in $555


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.
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In any type of adoption where travel is needed, there will be travel expenses incurred above and beyond just transportation. Prospective adoptive parents will need to obtain lodging and food while they are away. In cases involving ICPC where prospective adoptive parents will need to stay in the child’s home state until they are cleared to go home, there is no set time line. Prospective adoptive parents do not know if they will need to find lodging and food for days or possibly weeks while they wait for ICPC to clear. The travel expenses incurred in adoption can easily enter thousands of dollars depending on the circumstances surrounding the adoption. 

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.
Attorneys are also necessary in second-parent adoptions, which are typically sought by stepparents and LGBT couples. Despite Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 granting marriage to same-sex couples, the parental rights of the non-biological or non-gestational parent are not always guaranteed, because states are not enforcing them uniformly. As attorney Andy Izenson puts it,

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.
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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.
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