When using a sliding scale, an agency sets a fee for its services based on the family's income or ability to pay. If you are exploring working with a private agency, ask if this is an option, even if it is not mentioned in the agency's literature. A sliding scale can make the cost of a homestudy, parent preparation classes, or post placement supervision much more affordable for low or middle income families, allowing them to focus their financial plans on raising their children rather than only on adopting them.
Wow! A lot of the people commenting on here are just vicious. Kevin, thank you for your post. My husband and I recently began the adoption process and are working with a very reputable nonprofit agency that we trust and respect. Adoption is an incredibly personal and important decision for any family to make, especially one that is unable to conceive a child naturally. I think it is incredibly insensitive, ignorant and downright nasty for people to come to your blog and criticize this process. It is cruel to liken adoption to human trafficking and to suggest that people who make this important decision are somehow doing something wrong. Adoption is expensive. I wish it were less expensive, and I am aware of the far less expensive foster to adopt and waiting child programs. EVERY potential parent has the right to choose the form of adoption that is most comfortable for them. For my husband and me, this means the extremely expensive domestic infant adoption. What right does ANYONE have to criticize or second guess the decision that we have made? I applaud your thick skin – mine is not as thick. Shame on those who have chosen to criticize and attack!!
If you network or adopt from out of state, there is a potential to make several trips to the other state—to meet the birth parent(s), take custody of your child and possibly to finalize the adoption. While you could stay with family or friends, if they live locally, most Adoptive Parents stay in hotels. By keeping your adoption local, you limit airfare, car expenses, hotel and other “away from home” costs.
Local restaurants are a great way to get your network involved. Work with local restaurants like Chic-fil-A and have a night dedicated toward your adoption. Generally, restaurants will donate a percentage of its proceeds toward your cause. This can be a great way to get friends and family together to celebrate your hopes to adopt while enjoying yummy food. 
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
Prospective adoptive parents may be concerned about the costs of adopting a child and their ability to meet those costs. Becoming a parent is rarely free of expenses—pregnancy and childbirth can be expensive and even more so without adequate insurance—and adoptive parents may be faced with initial costs that seem challenging. However, with planning and knowledge about the different types of adoptions and available resources, they can develop a budget to include most of the foreseeable expenses. This factsheet explains these expenses so that prospective adoptive parents can make informed decisions throughout the adoption process.
Overall, it's clear that money plays a huge role in adoption. The Donaldson Adoption Institute recently released a presentation highlighting some of the problems with adoption today, including the role of privilege and money. According to this presentation, "more than two-thirds of the adoption community believe privilege and money distort adoption." (You can read more about the DAI's Let's Adopt Reform initiative, or sign their open letter, which aims to change the way we talk about adoption.)
7. You'll probably be asked lots of personal questions. Friends, relatives, coworkers, and even people on the street may ask questions about your adoption, particularly if you've adopted from overseas and your child doesn't look like you. Many of the questions or comments are probably well intentioned, but they may seem rude or too personal, especially when asked in front of an older child. (Adoptive parents have been asked, for instance, "How much did you pay for your baby?" "How could the birth mother 'give away' such an adorable child?" "Do you know anything about your child's 'real' family?" etc.)
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?
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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