The first expense related to adoption is the fees associated with becoming eligible to adopt a child. The majority of the answers to the question, “Why is adoption so expensive?” will be answered with this eligibility process. To become eligible to adopt, most prospective adoptive parents will need to hire an adoption agency or adoption attorney to guide them through the adoption process. To begin the journey with one of these adoption professionals, many will require some sort of retainer or application fee. This fee can vary tremendously, but as an example, one attorney quoted a $700 retainer fee upfront to be hired for an adoption process. One of the agencies my husband and I looked into required a $300 application fee to being the process with their adoption agency.
If you have been interested in pursuing adoption, you probably are aware that you can adopt from the foster care system. While the ultimate goal of the foster care program is parent reunification, there are certain circumstances when that is not possible and when an adoption plan can be made for that child. Usually, the children available for adoption through the foster care system are older children and/or part of a sibling group. Most states cover the cost of adopting through the foster care system. There is also several different kinds of state and/or federal adoption assistance available, which may include medical assistance and/or monthly maintenance payments. 
The adoption cost in regards to foster care adoption can be a breath of fresh air after researching the high cost of other types of adoption. Adoption from foster care can typically range from little to no cost. The reason for that is due to the fact that there are many children within the foster care system in need of forever families. The state and the child welfare agency are funded to handle the adoption process and to take on the costs in order to find these children homes faster and without the financial burden for prospective adoptive parents. If there are some court costs that prospective parents will need to pay up front, these are typically reimbursed. Prospective adoptive parents may also choose to hire an attorney to help them navigate the process, though this is not usually necessary. If they do choose to hire an attorney, this cost will need to be covered by the prospective adoptive family personally. In order to determine adoption costs for your situation, your adoption agency or adoption attorney will often be able to provide a fee schedule of all set fees before you choose to move forward.
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.

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.

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