It’s a fair question, and we’re here to help you find an answer. While the initial reaction to learning about the cost of adoption is understandable, a better understanding of what it takes to complete a successful adoption process makes clear why the cost exists. The adoption process can be long and complicated. In most cases, it takes a lot of moving parts and skilled professionals to complete. To understand why adoption costs so much, you have to understand what it takes to complete the process.
There is a lot to learn and many questions to be answered when you decide you want to adopt. Even before you officially think of yourself as “hoping to adopt” there are terms, steps, and questions that every future adoptive parent will need to understand to reach their personal adoption dream successfully. There are many important questions when it comes to adopting a child. It’s wise to learn as much as possible, so you know what to expect!
Temperament and personality. Do you prefer a cat that is friendly and outgoing, or one that keeps more to herself? Does she need to get along well with children or other pets, or will she be an only cat? Do you want her to be energetic and playful, or more calm and laid back? Would you like her to be talkative or would you rather she be quiet? These characteristics have a lot more bearing on how happy you'll be with your new kitty than superficial traits like what her coat looks like, so it's important to determine your preferences before visiting the shelter. Luckily shelters allow and encourage you to interact with the cats before adopting in a cat-designated room. This will help you better determine her temperament. If she is open and apt to playing with toys, she probably is pretty outgoing. If she hides in the corner, she probably will take some time to warm up to you. If she is very friendly, purring and letting you pet her, she is likely a great cuddle buddy.
One of the biggest ticket items in the adoption cost of international adoption is the agency fee. This fee pays for the adoption agency to act as your liaison between you and the country you are adopting from. Their employees help to match you with your child, provide adoption education, help you to complete the needed paperwork, translate and submit it to the country you are working with, facilitate travel, and also keep their own licensing up to date. All of this comes with a fee. Most program fees (the costs paid to an agency for these services) run between $5,000 and $10,000, depending on the agency and which country you are adopting from, though sometimes agencies will quote up to $25,000 for their fee. It pays to do your research.
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.
Breaking down all the costs really answers the question of “Why is adoption so expensive,” and it gives you a greater picture of how quickly and enormously costs can add up. In a hypothetical domestic adoption situation, the fees could reach over $20,000 quite quickly. If a home study process costs prospective adoptive parents $3,000, and the application fee for the agency is $500, that is already quite a large amount right out of the gate. Also, there is a match fee of $1,000 as the prospective adoptive parents have not self-matched. The birth mother expenses may easily reach $5,000, and hiring outside legal counsel for her could equal that amount. If the prospective adoptive parents live in Florida, but the child is being born in Ohio, they will need to account for travel, lodging, and food. After airfare, food, and lodging for the four weeks of their ICPC stay, they have easily spent $6,000. They also have paid for counseling for the birth mother at the cost of $1,500 and their post-placement visits of $1,250. While each fee seems small on its own, these adoptive parents have reached finalization at a final cost of $23,500. This figure being only hypothetical and does not account for unexpected expenses or the possibility of financial loss with a failed adoption.
There are many grants available to families for all types of situations. An amazing list of grants is available HERE. Each grant requires families to fit specific criteria to be considered and awarded funds. Make sure to read each grant requirement carefully and find one (or more!) that is best for you. It is a great idea to try and apply for a matching grant. Through this type of grant, people can donate money for a tax deduction and then the grant foundation matches it. We received a matching grant for $5,000, so they received $5,000 in donation to the foundation, and they sent us a check for a total of $10,000. This was a huge boost for our fundraising campaign.
Pre-natal care and hospital costs will be paid for by the adopting family if the birth parent has no medical coverage and does not have Medicaid. While the baby’s hospital bill may be covered under the adoptive parent’s medical insurance, the birth mother’s expenses are not. Any recommended specialist appointments or testing is the responsibility of the adoptive parent(s).
What is Open Adoption? - ArticlesWhat is Open Adoption?What is the Difference Between Open, Closed and Semi-Open Adoptions?The Benefits of Contact with the Birth ParentsPicture and Letter Correspondence with Birth ParentsHow We Help You Find the Right Birth Mother to Adopt FromHow We Do and Don't Screen Pregnant MothersWhat You Need to Know About Birth Mother Substance UsePregnant Teens and Adoption: What to Know as a Waiting Parent
You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.
For private and independent adoptions, the birth parent(s) can decide whether or not he or she wishes to select the adoptive parents, meet with them, even maintain an ongoing relationship, if he or she so chooses. That is called an open adoption. In a closed adoption, the names of the birth mother and father and the adoptive parents are not shared with one another.
“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
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.
– Legal Fees – Even if you are working with an agency, you will be required to pay legal fees or attorney fees. Again, make sure you know what your agency expects you to pay out of pocket ahead of time. We, too, had to hire an attorney for our adoption (our agency uses the same one every time) and paid an additional approximately $3,000 for attorney’s fees. There are also filing fees associated with adoptions. Again, make sure you know if you have to pay these out of pocket or if they are included in the agency fee.
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.
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.
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?
Kittens, like puppies, benefit from having a litter of mates for playing, cuddling, and for providing interesting games when no humans are home. So if you want a kitten, it might be best to have two that can socialize as siblings. Young kittens don't always get full training from mom on using the litter box, but two cats together can sometimes help influence each other in this regard.
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!!
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).