New federal legislation that increases tax credits and exclusions for all adoptive families was passed in June, 2001. The Hope for Children Act (Public Law 107-16), which took effect on January 1, 2001, provides an adoption tax credit of $10,000 for all adoptions from 2002 and thereafter, and a tax exclusion of up to $10,000 for employer-provided adoption benefits, effective in 2003. Prior to these dates, families are entitled to a tax credit of up to $5,000 and a tax exclusion of up to $5,000 ($6,000 for children with special needs).

Although you’ll be the head of your household and master of your domain, parenthood is not an island. Single or married, do you have a support system in place—family or friends who will be there for you and back your decision to adopt? Who will embrace your child the same way they would a biological child? Although modern society seems to dictate the notion of super dads and moms who can do it all and then some (until that whole reality thing kicks in and you eventually wind up a ravaged pile of parenthood goo wondering where you went wrong and whether or not another vitamin smoothie would’ve helped), the challenges and demands of raising a child have only increased and you’d do well to make sure you have a few people you and your little one will be able to count on.
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.
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.
 – 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. 
Costs of adopting may be minimal or can total more than $40,000, depending on a number of factors. The chart below outlines some general categories of adoption and costs associated with the services provided. The wide range reflects the multitude of factors that can affect costs, including the type of adoption, type of placement agency or facilitator, and child’s age and circumstances. Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to check with the agencies they are considering to find out more about specific costs for their circumstances.
After the legwork of adoption eligibility is completed, the adoption cost moving forward will largely depend on if the prospective adoptive parents are already matched or need to be matched. If the prospective adoptive parents need to be matched with a birth mother, the agency or attorney will often require a match fee. This fee allows for the agency or attorney to work, on the prospective adoptive parent’s behalf, to advertise them to expectant mothers as a potential placement for their child. There will also likely be birth mother expenses that prospective adoptive parents are obligated to pay under their state law. These expenses go towards pregnancy-related expenses such as medical care, maternity clothes, and some living expenses. The adoption cost related to birth mother expenses will be determined by the state and may be waived in some instances. Some states put a cap on the amount of birth parent expenses that are allowed. To see what birth mother expenses your state requires, you can review that information on this link.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.
Whether the adoption is domestic or international, travel expense can usually be expected. Undoubtedly, travel for an international adoption can be quite expensive. In most international adoption cases, the family will visit the country and the child first. Then, once that country’s waiting period is over and the process is complete, the family will return to their child’s country of origin to complete the process and travel home with their child. The cost for this element of adoption varies widely based on time of travel and country of origin.
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.
When asked a question that feels too personal or improper, you have the right not to answer it -- particularly if it compromises your child's, the birth mother's, or your own privacy. But sometimes you can find a way to respond to a question that's in the best interest of your family and offers some important information about adoption. For instance, when asked "How much did you pay for your baby?" you can explain that the fees you paid your agency and/or orphanage (you don't have to disclose the amount) went toward the facilitation of your adoption and to the early care of your child. In a sense, they're similar to what a pregnant woman pays to her doctor and hospital, you can add.

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.
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.
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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.
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.
While some agencies have a different homestudy process for foster parents and adoptive parents, others have dual licensing, and will allow families to complete one homestudy approving them for both foster care and adoption, at no cost to the family. Post placement supervision can be provided by the same agency that supervises the foster care, and may also be free.
Prospective adoptive parents may be concerned about the costs of adopting a child and their ability to meet those costs. Becoming a parent is rarely free of expenses—pregnancy and childbirth can be expensive and even more so without adequate insurance—and adoptive parents may be faced with initial costs that seem challenging. However, with planning and knowledge about the different types of adoptions and available resources, they can develop a budget to include most of the foreseeable expenses. This factsheet explains these expenses so that prospective adoptive parents can make informed decisions throughout the adoption process.

This publication provides an overview of State laws related to the rights of unmarried fathers and the methods by which a man may establish a legal parent-child relationship with his child. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the constitutional protection of an unmarried father's parental rights when he has established a substantial relationship with his child. The circumstances in which a man may be presumed to be the father of a child, the use of putative fathers' registries, the use of genetic tests to establish parentage, and the right of rescission of paternity claims also are discussed. Summaries of laws for all States and U.S. territories are included.

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.

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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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