For foster care adoptions in the US, Adopting Parents will have little or no out of pocket expenses. Typically, the children available for adoption through the foster care system are older children and the adoption is often funded by the state. Some Adopting Parents may hire a private agency to help them through the process but these costs are often reimbursed through federal or state programs after the finalization of the adoption.
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.
Private domestic adoption costs vary from adoption to adoption and state to state. An agency fee ranges from $15,000 – 30,000. Additional costs for birth parent expenses (i.e. medical, rent, living expenses, phone, etc.) are set on a case-by-case basis. The adopting parent(s) pays for the Adoption Home Study and Post Placement Supervisory Visits, travel, as well as legal counsel for themselves and the birth parent(s). Private placement adoption costs are between $25,000 – 50,000.
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The Hague Convention was enacted by the UN in an attempt to thwart corruption/trafficking and preserve the right of orphaned children to experience the love and protection of a family through adoption. Under the convention, each country has its own program to place children internationally and determines its own adoption fees. For families living in the US and adopting abroad, they can expect to pay fees for processing federal forms and paperwork as well as adoption fees for the specific country they are adopting through. With each country determining different fees and program costs, this area of expense can vary widely.
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.
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.
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.
Private domestic adoption costs vary from adoption to adoption and state to state. An agency fee ranges from $15,000 – 30,000. Additional costs for birth parent expenses (i.e. medical, rent, living expenses, phone, etc.) are set on a case-by-case basis. The adopting parent(s) pays for the Adoption Home Study and Post Placement Supervisory Visits, travel, as well as legal counsel for themselves and the birth parent(s). Private placement adoption costs are between $25,000 – 50,000.
Non-identifying details about the birth parents (including their general background, education, employment, armed services history; social or medical risk factors, drug usage, medical and mental health history, other children, and extended birth family history). Also inquire about the birth mother’s care during pregnancy, and any risk factors for the child due to the mother’s experiences during pregnancy or complications during delivery.
AdoptionLife.org is a licensed private agency specializing in infant domestic adoptions. Private adoption agencies, such as AdoptionLife.org, work with expectant parents who have chosen to make an adoption plan. We provide support, counseling and advocacy throughout the entire process. We encourage expectant parents to choose a prospective family for their child based on shared information and regular contact. Private adoption fees average between $30,000-$40,000 and may include the following:
I think part of what’s so hard about the high cost of adoption is that it brings to mind the frightening idea of buying a child (especially when you see the catalogs of kids needing to be adopted, complete with pictures and descriptions). That’s not what’s happening here, and most agencies seem to go to great lengths to make that clear. The birth mother is not receiving a payment (though her medical bills, legal and counseling needs will be covered). The adoption agency is not getting rich (our agency pointed out that their nice new building was funded completely by donations–not a penny of adoption fees went to the construction costs).
To begin with, there are many steps involved to ensure the safety of the child. Whether you adopt domestically or internationally, you will need a home study. Your home study involves an examination of your finances, relationships, health, home, and motivations for adoption. A licensed social worker will conduct in-person interviews, then sift through all your mounds of paperwork to write an evaluation of your family. There are background checks, fingerprints, medical examinations, and adoptive-parent education trainings, all of which carry a price tag. Additionally, you will pay for post-adoption reports to confirm the adopted child is being raised in a secure, loving environment.
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:
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The adoption cost in regards to foster care adoption can be a breath of fresh air after researching the high cost of other types of adoption. Adoption from foster care can typically range from little to no cost. The reason for that is due to the fact that there are many children within the foster care system in need of forever families. The state and the child welfare agency are funded to handle the adoption process and to take on the costs in order to find these children homes faster and without the financial burden for prospective adoptive parents. If there are some court costs that prospective parents will need to pay up front, these are typically reimbursed. Prospective adoptive parents may also choose to hire an attorney to help them navigate the process, though this is not usually necessary. If they do choose to hire an attorney, this cost will need to be covered by the prospective adoptive family personally. In order to determine adoption costs for your situation, your adoption agency or adoption attorney will often be able to provide a fee schedule of all set fees before you choose to move forward.
Once this home study process is completed and the home study report approved, prospective adoptive parents are typically deemed eligible to adopt, yet the expenses do not stop here. After they have been found eligible to adopt, they may still need to be matched with a birth mother. If they have self-matched, they will not need to pay this fee, however self-matching is not always an easy or efficient journey. Matching fees with vary with each adoption professional and can reach into the thousands.
This concern is most likely a product of adoptions prior to the 1980s, which emotionally scarred some adopted children because they weren’t told of their adoption properly. Since adoption has opened up over the past 30 years, today’s adopted children, adolescents and adults often have overwhelmingly positive feelings about their adoption and birth parents.
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.
According to Ellison, another resource many people don't even think to investigate is their own employer. Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DFTA) publishes a list every year of the 100 most adoption-friendly workplaces, but even if your company's not on the list, it's still worth asking your HR department. According to the DTFA, 52 percent of companies surveyed offer a financial adoption benefit. (And if you want to establish adoption benefits at your company, DTFA offers a free kit to do so.) There are also grants available, ranging from $1,000 to $15,000. Ellison says that many of these are faith-based, based on financial need, or for adopting children with special needs. These grants tend to be incredibly competitive, with "literally hundreds of families applying for the same money." You can start applying at Helpusadopt.org, Resources 4 Adoption, or International Adoption Center, or see if your agency partners with Your Adoption Finance Coach.
No, American Adoptions has established relationships with some of the best adoption attorneys in the nation. Because adoption laws vary from state to state and between counties, it is important to utilize the services of an adoption attorney who specializes in the state where the adoption will finalize, which is unknown until you match with an expectant mother. You have the right to retain your own attorney, but doing so may be an additional, unnecessary expense.

“I think most people understand the basic application fees, homestudy fees, and such. It’s the large country fee that people really don’t understand. Much like the question “Why does it take so long?” there is just a lot of paperwork, a lot of applications, a lot of approvals that must be obtained. All of those cost money. You are paying for an original birth record, an updated birth record with your name on it, a passport for the child, a Visa for the child, immigration expenses, lots of translating fees, lots of foreign notaries, 6 months to 2+ years of food, clothing, housing, medical and child care, etc.” From ransomsinchina.com
"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."
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.
Breaking down the total cost into categorized expenses helps prospective parents understand what is involved and how to determine a predictable range for their costs. In some cases, understanding the costs associated with different types of adoption may help parents decide which type of adoption to pursue, or whether to pursue this approach to building a family.
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.)

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. 
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