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.

If you adopt a child from foster care, you're eligible for a monthly government subsidy — an average of $846 a month, according to Adoptive Families. There is also sometimes a one-time reimbursement available, which ranges from $400-$2,000 depending on the state, as well as health coverage through Medicaid, and sometimes college tuition. Also, if you adopt a child with special needs through an agency, some agencies will waive their fees. (In the context of foster care, "special needs" refers not only to medical conditions and/or disabilities, but also to children who are older, not white, part of a sibling group, or some other combination of factors that have made them "difficult to place" for adoption. Each state defines "special needs" differently.)
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).
This home study costs money to maintain, as well. If there are any major life changes — a change to your living situation or employment, for instance — the home study has to be updated, which also costs money. It also has to be updated periodically (typically every 12 months, but the exact timeline depends on the state, until you get a child or decide to let it expire) in order to remain current. This, again, costs money — as much as $1,000 each time.

This is a tax credit offered to adoptive parents to encourage their adoption. The United States International Revenue code offers a credit for “qualified adoption expenses” paid or incurred by individual taxpayers. The credit apply’s for all types of adoption except step-parent adoption and is available in the  year the adoption is finalized. In 2017, the maximum adoption tax credit was $13,570 per child. The amount changes year over year due to inflation. Talk with your tax adviser to understand more about the Adoption Tax Credit and how it can work for you. The Adoption Tax Credit is not refundable, but it does provide financial assistance to many families each year.


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!!

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.

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

Elaine E. Schulte, MD, MPH, FAAP is a board certified pediatrician and Professor of Pediatrics at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. She is the Medical Director of the Adoption Program at Cleveland Clinic Children's and has cared for hundreds of families and children touched by adoption. She also provides pre-adoption consultation service through MyConsult. Within the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Schulte sits on the Executive Committee of the Council on Foster Care, Adoption, and Kinship Care. She is the parent of two children adopted from China.
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?
An advantage of starting out as a foster parent is the quantity of training and preparation. In addition to the series of classes at the beginning of the process, foster parents receive training on an on-going basis, addressing a variety of parenting issues. To learn more about foster parenting, visit the website of the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning at http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp.
Before we attempt to shed some light on this difficult reality, we must first acknowledge foremost the divine beauty that embodies the miracle of adoption. Beyond the challenges (both financially and otherwise) that adoption can present, adoption at its core is a life-changing journey that not only restores hope to a waiting child, but also exemplifies God’s love for His children. The power of this miraculous journey can be seen through the testimonies of so many families and children who have been impacted by Show Hope’s adoption aid grants, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy process. In an attempt to shed some light as to why adoption can be such a costly endeavor, we will focus on five main areas of financial expense that relate to adoption.
About American Adoptions - ArticlesAbout Us: American Adoptions American Adoptions' Office LocationsWelcome to American AdoptionsAsk Michelle an Adoption QuestionOur Agency StaffGetting to Know American Adoptions Co-Founder Scott MarsA Life of Love and Opportunity - Scott's StoryThe Greatest Gift of All - Our SonAdoption Agency CertificationsAmerican Adoptions' NewsletterMore . . .

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 . . .
The simplest answer is twofold. First of all, there are a boatload of professionals involved in the adoption of a child, and those professionals need to be paid. This is a big change from the early 20 century, when adoptions were often arranged more informally. In an interview with Romper, Katie Foley, Associate Director of Outreach for Spence-Chapin Services to Families & Children, says, “In over 100 years, we've seen the professionals necessary to facilitate an adoption change as [the] practice has changed. For example, 100 years ago, a doctor might be the primary professional in making an adoption happen,” perhaps connecting a pregnant patient with an infertile one. But in 2016, all that has changed.
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.
When an adoption is handled by an adoption agency, the agency will typically include all adoption process fees in their fee schedule. They will also likely have their own team of attorneys or have certain attorneys contracted to handle much of the legal proceedings of adoption. The adoption agency will also likely provide its own representation for the expectant mother and work with her on the adoption proceedings. However, some adoption agencies do not provide unbiased representation for the expectant mother. If this is the case or when working with an adoption attorney, it is often advisable and often required for the prospective adoptive family to hire outside legal counsel for the expectant mother. This is done to ensure that the expectant mother is informed of her rights in adoption and also allows for a more ethical adoption process. The fees for outside legal counsel for an expectant mother can vary greatly and can easily top $5,000.

Adoption agencies do not expect the entire cost of an adoption to be paid "up front." For example, an agency might divide payment into three portions, with one-third of the total amount to be paid when filing the initial application, one- third at completion of the homestudy process, and one- third when the child is placed and the post placement supervision period begins. Budgeted over time, these costs will not make such a big dent in money you may be saving for the costs of raising a child. When fees are linked to a specific service or part of the process, the family is also in a better position when something unexpected happens, such as an agency suddenly going out of business. Ask specific agencies about their payment plans when you are selecting an agency.


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. 
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.
Even if you have pure intentions and sincerely want to take care of a child, you should consider whether you are in a stable enough situation to provide for a child. Parents are responsible for providing for their children financially, emotionally, and physically. Be honest with yourself. Do you have the funds, time, and emotional capability to care for a child throughout his or her life?

A: The costs really depend on the type of adoption, and, to some extent, the length of time it takes to adopt. Costs can range from $0 to $50,000. Child Welfare Information Gateway has an excellent review of adoption costs with references. Many employers also offer adoption benefits to help offset the cost. In 2013 the Federal Adoption Tax Credit was created to help families cover the adoption costs, as well.

Adoption agencies do not expect the entire cost of an adoption to be paid "up front." For example, an agency might divide payment into three portions, with one-third of the total amount to be paid when filing the initial application, one- third at completion of the homestudy process, and one- third when the child is placed and the post placement supervision period begins. Budgeted over time, these costs will not make such a big dent in money you may be saving for the costs of raising a child. When fees are linked to a specific service or part of the process, the family is also in a better position when something unexpected happens, such as an agency suddenly going out of business. Ask specific agencies about their payment plans when you are selecting an agency.

The adoption professional doing their part to make adoption more affordable do so in a variety of ways. Some attorneys will work pro bono or for a reduced rate. Some agencies offer graduated payment schedules, so that you only pay for services as they are rendered and not beforehand, and will connect families with resources. And Delta offers discount airfare for international adoption travel.

Describes the steps involved when a person wishes to adopt the child of his or her spouse and discusses legal issues and help for parents. The issues addressed include requirements for home studies and background checks, obtaining the consent of the child's noncustodial parent, and the process for completing the adoption. Resources for more information are included.

“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

 – Travel Expenses – As seems to be the theme of this article, this number will depend on what country you are adopting from. Some countries require more than one visit before you are able to complete your adoption. Some countries require longer stays than others. Again, make sure to discuss with your agency what travel will be expected of you before deciding on what country you wish to adopt from. Travel costs can range from $5,000 to $10,000. 
While adoption can be quick and seamless, no two adoptions are the same and it can be difficult to predict how your situation will unfold. Families can spend anytime between a few weeks to several years waiting for the perfect match. Even when matched, there still may be emotional ups and downs. It can be disappointing and expensive to continue the process if you aren’t fully committed, so make sure this is something that you believe is worth the effort.
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