– Agency Fee – The agency fee is whatever your agency charges to act as your adoption agency. These fees can range from $1,000 to $15,000. This is where it is hard to say just how much an adoption costs because there is such a wide spectrum of amounts charged. I can tell you our agency fee was $3,000, a little on the lesser side, but we loved our social worker and loved working with the agency we did. 
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.
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.
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.
For certain organizations, there are limitations on who can adopt. Adoptive parents must be in good health and able to pass a background check, and some agencies require a significant age difference between the family and the adoptee. Certain agencies may have more stringent requirements than others, so be sure to contact multiple organizations before making a final decision.
I tend to think that particular laws and regulations have been less significant factors in the cost of domestic adoptions than broader technological, legal, and cultural changes, including the availability of effective contraception… the legalization of abortion… and the sexual revolution, all of which decreased the availability of adoptable children.
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!!

Discusses the impact of adoption on adopted persons who have reached adulthood. There are several themes that emerge from personal accounts and data from academic studies about issues that adopted persons may face. This factsheet addresses these themes, which include loss, the development of identity and self-esteem, interest in genetic information, and managing adoption issues.
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.
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.
If you want to help change the system, join others who are already working in that area. Contact the parent groups in your area (find a database of groups at this link) to find out what they are doing or if they know of other advocacy groups you can get involved with. To report a specific problem, contact your adoption manager or the NACAC representative in your state. You may also want to contact one of AdoptUsKids’ Training and Technical Assistance consultants (a directory of staff and consultants is available at AdoptUsKids: Permanency - Tools and Resources).
 Lastly, you will need to be sure you have dotted and crossed your legal i’s and t’s. If your child’s paperwork (mainly her certificate of citizenship) is not in the name she will be using, you will need to legally change her name to the correct one. This will most likely involve going through a readoption in your state. Some states require this step anyway, so you can do it at the same time. Other states have an administrative option for obtaining a Certificate of Foreign Birth, the equivalent of having a U.S. birth certificate. Readoptions can cost as much as $2,000 with the administrative options being less. To apply for a corrected Certificate of Citizenship, you will be asked to send in $555
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.)
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: 
A: As you consider the type of adoption you are going to pursue, you will need to get ready to be an adoptive parent. There is no "one size fits all" preparation that provides exactly what you need. Many agencies offer pre-adoptive training for prospective parents. For children who are adopted from foster care, there may be mandatory certification or training. Talk to families who've already adopted and gone through the process. Familiarize yourself with all the legal, financial, medical, developmental, and behavioral issues related to adoption.
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.
I know these numbers seem staggering and you probably think you cannot afford to adopt a child, but there are ways to “offset” some of these expenses. As I mentioned earlier in the article, talk with a tax professional to discuss what options may be available for in regards to the adoption tax credit and/or adoption assistance programs. You may also be able to apply for grants. A simple Google search for “adoption grants” will result in hundreds of possibilities. Applying for grants takes time, however, it usually pays off in the end. You may also be able to apply for a no-interest or low-interest loan to cover your adoption expenses. There are several online resources for that as well. Get creative with fundraising. I know it seems silly to be asking people to help pay for a child, however, you will be surprised at how willing people are to help you. Have a garage sale. Have a bake sale. Create an online shop for something you make by hand. Start a 5k run/walk. Provide concessions at events. The possibilities really are endless, you just have to be willing to try. 
Most importantly, are you ready to give your adopted child endless amounts of unconditional love and support for a lifetime? While all families are not created equally, all children are and have similar wants and needs. You’re going to have too many blissful days to count, boatloads of infant/toddler/childhood/teen testing moments, and more than your share of life-got-in-the-way ups and downs to maneuver. Are you also ready to accept the great responsibilities of ensuring that you honor your adopted child’s past, culture, and questions and concerns that are sure to come up over the course of your lifetime together?
4. You won't be sending out traditional "birth" announcements. Of course that's not to say that you won't be announcing your child's adoption in a special way. Some parents send out handwritten cards or notes, detailing some of the highlights of their child's adoption (such as where he was born, his birth name, his family name, the date he was born, the date he was adopted, etc.). Others order special adoption announcements, which they personalize with facts about their family. Whichever method you choose, be sure to include a photo of your child and his new family members.
Affording Adoption - ArticlesAdoption Financing 101: How to Afford AdoptionWhat You Need to Know About Adoption LoansHow Adoption Grants Can Help Fund Your AdoptionDo You Get Financial Help if You Adopt?How to Fundraise for Adoption2018 Adoption Tax Credit InformationAdoption Disruption Insurance Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Adoption LeaveEmployer-Provided Adoption BenefitsProsper Healthcare LendingMore . . .
Discusses the impact of adoption on adopted persons who have reached adulthood. There are several themes that emerge from personal accounts and data from academic studies about issues that adopted persons may face. This factsheet addresses these themes, which include loss, the development of identity and self-esteem, interest in genetic information, and managing adoption issues.

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.


Adoption has never been famously known to be affordable. Many of the myths surrounding adoption are about its cost and its ability to be attainable by the everyday person. While there are many ways to afford adoption and adoption costs are often misunderstood, it is not usually a myth that most types of adoption are indeed expensive. When people ask the question, “Why is adoption so expensive?” it is usually because they are viewing adoption as a whole and not as a set of individual services. The process of adoption—broken up into sets of fees for the various services that need to be utilized—will help answer the question of, “Why is adoption so expensive?” in a more concise manner.
Loans are available to families hoping to adopt. Many companies offer loans and some even offer little or no interest. Each adoption loan is different and some have criteria for loans to be awarded. Most adoption loans only take a few days for approval. However, it’s up to you at what point in your adoption process you wish to take out a loan. It’s also important to note that many adoption loans are faith-based, so do your research before filling out any loan applications. We refinanced our house twice to obtain extra money for both our adoptions. Loans are a great way to finance adoptions because they allow families to borrow a large amount of money and offer fixed interest rates and terms. This can make it easier for you to budget. Remember, each family is different. It is important to research and to choose the best adoption loan that fits your situation. For more information about adoption loans, visit HERE. 

Many adoption agencies and many states require that families complete adoptive parenting preparation classes or training. There may be no fee, as a public or private agency may cover this cost, especially if the family is adopting a waiting child. If not, this training may be included in the cost already paid for the homestudy, or the family may be expected to pay for it separately. Here are some possibilities for reducing or eliminating this cost:

Asking friends and family to donate to your garage sale can be an amazing way to raise funds for your adoption. Hosting online actions on social media can also help you reach a larger crowd. You can ask your friends who have services or items they create or sell to donate to your auction and appreciate the free marketing and advertising you provide on their behalf with their items and services. For our Yard Sales, we asked all of our friends and family to donate unwanted items that they no longer needed.  We had an outpouring of donations.  We also asked friends and family to donate baked goods and had a bake sale at our Yard Sale.  On the same day of our Yard Sale, we advertised for a car wash at a local grocery store.  Between both events we raised almost $6,000 in one day.  I set up a Square account and people gave/donated more because they could use a debt/credit card. 
×