Sue Kuligowski is a staff storyteller at Adoption.com. The mother of two girls through adoption, she is a proposal coordinator, freelance writer/editor, and an adoption advocate. When she's not writing or editing, she can be found supervising sometimes successful glow-in-the-dark experiments, chasing down snails in the backyard, and attempting to make sure her girls are eating more vegetables than candy.
If they get into a car accident in Florida and the child has to be hospitalized, the non-biological mother is a legal stranger to the child. In cases where a lesbian couple conceives a child via co-IVF, meaning one spouse carries the other spouse's egg, the biological (but non-gestational) mother is the legal stranger. The only way to guarantee nationwide parental rights for a non-biological or non-gestational parent is by an adoption order. Even a state that doesn’t want to recognize same-sex marriages will still recognize an adoption order. But it won't come cheap.
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.
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.

Adoption cost is one of the important questions many prospective adoptive parents ask when first starting the adoption process. It’s no secret that many adoption options have costs which are very high. Adoption cost, while it is an important aspect that parents need to keep in mind, is also something that can be planned for; it should not be the one reason to rule out adoption.
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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.
A few people have pointed out that nobody does background checks on parents giving birth, there’s no certification that natural parents have to go through. And that’s true. But that’s kind of an odd question. I can’t help but wonder if the people who ask that question want those kind of policies in place. Should we have an authoritarian system in place, one that would encroach on citizen’s rights even more so than China’s one-child policy? Starts to sound like 1984 or Brave New World.

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.)


I’m sorry you’ve had poor experiences with adoption agencies, but that doesn’t mean they’re all terrible. Researching agencies is one of the most important things you can do–there’s a lot of unethical agencies out there, a lot of people doing illegal and immoral things. And it can be a lot to wade through, trying to figure out you can trust. But it’s a job you have to do. And if you don’t like their fees or you think they’re being unethical, leave.
Agency Fee: This fee covers administrative and professional services provided by the agency in connection with the adoption. It includes the cost of training, documentation preparation and authentication, counseling and support for adoptive parents and birth families, matching services, personnel, Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children administration, overhead, and legal consultation. Each agency has their own policies, but if a match does not result in a placement or a placement is disrupted, AdoptionLife.org rolls the agency fees over to another adoption situation.
These numbers include everything: travel, paperwork, agency, attorney, etc. China, Ethiopia, and South Korea are the only countries that AdoptiveFamilies.com publishes, because they are the most popular. While most other estimates for international adoption appear comparable, those numbers can sometimes go down significantly if a family is willing to adopt older children, sibling groups, or children with disabilities or medical needs. Here's how those expenses break down.
Probably the most common questions asked in adoption: "How much does it cost to adopt a child?" or "What is the cost of adoption?" Not all adoption processes are the same and each one has its own expenses. In a domestic adoption, expenses may include legal representation for the adoptive and birth parent(s), medical costs, counseling, rent, phone and travel for the birth parent(s), and travel, court, Home Study and networking/advertising costs for the adoptive parent(s). In an international adoption , there are agency or attorney fees plus the applications to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. In the country from which the child will immigrate, there are legal and agency costs, court, medical and document and translation costs, donations to the child welfare center and local travel.
In any type of adoption where travel is needed, there will be travel expenses incurred above and beyond just transportation. Prospective adoptive parents will need to obtain lodging and food while they are away. In cases involving ICPC where prospective adoptive parents will need to stay in the child’s home state until they are cleared to go home, there is no set time line. Prospective adoptive parents do not know if they will need to find lodging and food for days or possibly weeks while they wait for ICPC to clear. The travel expenses incurred in adoption can easily enter thousands of dollars depending on the circumstances surrounding the adoption.
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.
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.

The question of “Why is adoption so expensive?” is simply answered with the knowledge that it takes many people and many processes to complete an adoption journey. The use of adoption professionals is crucial to ensure that an adoption is both legal and ethical. These services will cost in order to be sure that the best care is taken in the adoption process. As adoption laws are ever-changing and different adoption processes have different regulations, the costs of an adoption can vary greatly. These costs are many professional services combined that allow for adoption to protect all parties involved and to complete the due diligence needed to make the adoption as efficient as possible. Luckily, there are many ways to not only afford adoption, but also to recoup some of the fees through the adoption tax credit. The adoption tax credit is not a refund but will offset the tax obligation of adoptive parents. To find out more about the cost of adoption and ways to afford adoption even for those with limited income, you can read more at this link.
In any type of adoption where travel is needed, there will be travel expenses incurred above and beyond just transportation. Prospective adoptive parents will need to obtain lodging and food while they are away. In cases involving ICPC where prospective adoptive parents will need to stay in the child’s home state until they are cleared to go home, there is no set time line. Prospective adoptive parents do not know if they will need to find lodging and food for days or possibly weeks while they wait for ICPC to clear. The travel expenses incurred in adoption can easily enter thousands of dollars depending on the circumstances surrounding the adoption.
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.
Adoption is expensive because the process to legally adopt a baby requires the involvement of attorneys, social workers, physicians, government administrators, adoption specialists, counselors and more. While the adoption journey is an emotional one for prospective birth mothers and adoptive families, the adoption process is a legal function. Adoptions completed by fully licensed agencies are held to high ethical standards, which can mean more paperwork and higher costs. 
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