Millions of children are orphaned every year (the number is so high and changes with such rapidity that it's hard for government organizations to even keep track). There are other options for adoption (like through foster care or the adoption of a family member) and each process yields a beautiful and unique family. It's important to all of us that these children find good homes. Their lives matter.

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.


Secondly, adoption requires a lot of legal hoops, and for good reason. A lot of what you’re paying for is the peace of mind that the child you adopt is now fully and legally yours. If you don’t follow all the proper legal procedures, if the birth mother isn’t fully aware of her rights, if she doesn’t sign the right documents or isn’t told the right thing at the right time, if you haven’t dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s than the new child you adopted could be taken away. A judge could declare the adoption null and void and you lose. How much would that suck?
For private domestic adoption, whether you work independently or with an agency, you can expect advertising fees. Advertising fees may include classified ads, video production, or the construction of a website. You may choose to do this independently or work with a consultant. Consultants cost more but may yield better results and quicker matches. There are legal fees for both the adoptive family and the birth mother (which the adoptive family usually cover), document authentication fees for the compilation of your home study, and required legal document filing. Birth mother fees may include medical expenses, living expenses, counseling, and prenatal and postnatal care. Once the child is born, there will be airline and hotel fees, which vary greatly depending on where the birth mother resides.
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.
While some agencies have a different homestudy process for foster parents and adoptive parents, others have dual licensing, and will allow families to complete one homestudy approving them for both foster care and adoption, at no cost to the family. Post placement supervision can be provided by the same agency that supervises the foster care, and may also be free.
Ask your adoption professional if they provide any type of financial protection in the event of an adoption disruption. Some national adoption agencies and entities are able to provide some type of financial protection in certain situations and this can make all the difference to a family trying to move forward with their adoption journey after a disruption.
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.
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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.
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?
Bring others on your journey! Social media is a very powerful outlet for people to raise funds. You need to be active in your adoption journey and social media is a great way to remain active and create community. As you post, you must have realistic expectations. Share everyday – In general, maybe 20% of your friends will see your posts, so don’t get upset if you don’t receive a lot of interaction. Be honest about what you are using the funds for and make a breakdown of what all the fees were used for.  I shared every step of our journey on social media for all to see.  I  kept everyone updated with details about the process. Each time I paid a fee, I posted a photo of the check amount and what it was going toward. I had so many people thank me for my honesty and openness.  They felt more inclined to give and and many donated multiple times because they knew exactly what I was using the funds for.  I was very careful about what our family spent money on. It is important to sacrifice and save, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ever go out for an ice cream.  You just don’t need to post that on social media. Also, one thing that worked for me may not work for you.  Research and find ideas that other families have done, and choose the ones that feel like a good fit for you and your network.  Ask for help from friends and family, but don’t expect it or assume everyone will want to be involved.

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.

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.


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.
8.  Occasionally, you will meet people whose intentions are not good.  Feel free to tell them it is private, ignore them completely, or in extreme cases, ask them an equally rude question.  Once a lady pointed at my kids and asked, “Where did you get those and how much were they?”  Hoping to educate her on the language a bit, I responded, “They joined our family through adoption.  She pushed, “I can see that, but what’d you do to get them?   I asked, “Are you considering adoption?”  “No,” she responded incredulously, “I just want to know where and how you got ’em.” Sobering up to the situation, I asked, “Do you have children?”   She nodded yes.  I rapidly retorted, “Were they born vaginally or did you have a c-section?  When you conceived them, what position did you use?  How much was the hospital bill?” She walked away and the checker plus the 2 other people in line at the supermarket all applauded. That was the only time I can recall where I felt the need to be rude in response to an adoption question.
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: 
 – 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. 

These are a central factor to the question, “Why does adoption cost so much money?” Variable adoption costs are comprised of expenses that can change in each unique adoption situation. Typically, these are fees paid toward needs of the prospective birth mother. The amount of variable adoption costs incurred in a given adoption situation will be dependent on the birth mother’s unique needs, as well as what is allowed by the adoption laws in her state. Some of these costs can be things like:
I emailed them back and got off that mailing list, but the number stuck with me. I'd received a lot of info about my son's adoptive family when I was in the process of placing him, including their occupations, salaries, and debt. However, it had never occurred to me to even think about how much they were paying the agency, or the expense adoption must have meant for them.
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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.
I admit that I didn’t read the comments, so maybe this has already come up, but…one thing you didn’t mention in the original post is that part of the LARGE fee goes toward the actual care of the child. We’re talking about 2+years in many cases. It’s not just the care of the child from referral to placement; it’s from the time the child came into care. Medical care, food, clothing, housing, counseling in many cases, language teachers, etc.
 – Agency Fee/Program Fee – This number, of course, is one that varies by which country you are adopting from and what agency you are using. The costs can range from $10,000 to $15,000. For more specific information, contact a local adoption agency and discuss with them what their rates for international adoptions are and know what country you are interested in adopting from, as that will determine the cost. 

This indicates whether you would like an open, semi-open, or closed adoption. Would you like to know about the birth parent, like their background and medical information? Would you like to speak to them during the pregnancy or meet them at the hospital for the birth? Would you be open to contact or a relationship after the placement? This may also depend on who the birth parents are and what they want, but it’s good to think about how this relationship could affect your child.


There are a number of ways for families to mitigate the cost of adoption, and some adoption professionals are working to make it easier for families to afford. Many of these forms of assistance are via reimbursement after the fact, so there are still plenty of up-front costs. Ellison estimates that adoptive parents "will have to pay 85 percent of the total cost of your adoption. The rest can come from loans, grants, personal fundraising, special events, and other gifts."
Documentation is required for each step of the adoption process. These documents make up the dossier that most international programs require, including proof of eligibility. Each document is processed locally, then by the agency, state and federal government, and finally by the international government of the child’s country of origin. Many adoption agencies require the documents to be sealed and notarized, which authenticates the application and dossier. If a family decides to adopt internationally, they will also have to submit paperwork to the USCIS (U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services) in order to receive citizenship for their child. This element is vital to the adoption process but can also add thousands of dollars to the overall cost.
Every adoptive family is required to complete a home study. Home studies consist of multiple stages, starting with an orientation period. Initial information is recorded about the family and interviews are conducted to retrieve specific background information. Preparation training for adoptive parents is required along with home visits that ensure the home is safe and suitable for children. In addition, health, income, and autobiographical information are required, as well as thorough background checks and fingerprinting. Lastly, personal references must be submitted in order to provide the most complete picture of the family. After each stage of the home study, a report is created by the home study agency. These reports are combined to create the family’s portfolio which prospective agencies and birth parents can review based on the type of adoption program. After placement, a home study agency will also complete post-placement visits. These visits focus on making sure the child is doing well and thriving within their new family. The entire home study/post-placement process can span many months to years (depending on how quickly a waiting child is placed into the family) and the cost is often impacted accordingly.

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