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.
There will also be other adoption-related costs while you are in country. You will need to pay for your child’s passport, visa, and visa physical. If you are traveling to China, you will also have the orphanage donation, which is often around $5,000. Additionally, other countries will have childcare fees. (On a second note, this article lays out the real costs of parents choosing to not pay the donation, which is exceedingly important to note.
If you work with a private agency, you will probably be asked to pay a fee for your homestudy. This fee may range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Agencies may also charge for updates or addendums to your homestudy, which are required every one to two years. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce and even avoid those fees:
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.
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.
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?
Travel costs are, obviously, a huge cost— about $8,000 on average (which goes up to $10,000 when you factor in your in-country travel expenses). Some programs require multiple visits or require you to stay in the child’s home country for a minimum amount of time, which might be up to several weeks. But there are other non-travel costs driving the cost of international adoption up. The 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect to Intercountry Adoption established international safeguards to prevent child trafficking. This is, obviously, fantastic. It also means a great deal of paperwork to make sure you’re complying with Hague guidelines, and that paperwork costs money to prepare and submit. Your dossier costs $1,500 on average to prepare, according to Spence-Chapin, and another $500-$1,500 to translate if needed.
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.
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?