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.
Breaking down all the costs really answers the question of “Why is adoption so expensive,” and it gives you a greater picture of how quickly and enormously costs can add up. In a hypothetical domestic adoption situation, the fees could reach over $20,000 quite quickly. If a home study process costs prospective adoptive parents $3,000, and the application fee for the agency is $500, that is already quite a large amount right out of the gate. Also, there is a match fee of $1,000 as the prospective adoptive parents have not self-matched. The birth mother expenses may easily reach $5,000, and hiring outside legal counsel for her could equal that amount. If the prospective adoptive parents live in Florida, but the child is being born in Ohio, they will need to account for travel, lodging, and food. After airfare, food, and lodging for the four weeks of their ICPC stay, they have easily spent $6,000. They also have paid for counseling for the birth mother at the cost of $1,500 and their post-placement visits of $1,250. While each fee seems small on its own, these adoptive parents have reached finalization at a final cost of $23,500. This figure being only hypothetical and does not account for unexpected expenses or the possibility of financial loss with a failed adoption.
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Also, each country has its own country fee (a flat amount set by that country for adopting from it), which varies wildly from country to country. For instance, South Africa has a country fee of $4,000 per child, while other country fees, like Colombia, can be upwards of $10,000. Then there’s the cost of the child’s passport, visa, and medical exam ($500-$1,500), including hiring a doctor with experience reading international medical records to review the child’s information. It all keeps adding up.
International adoptions are an idiosyncratic business, and largely on the decline: According to the State Department, only 5,647 international adoptions took place in 2015 (compared with 11,058 in 2010). Your experience of it will depend largely on which country you choose. Across countries and programs, there’s a combination of children with medical or special needs and those without, averaging toddler-aged but sometimes older and very occasionally younger. Also, a number of countries and programs specify that they are only interested in heterosexual couples.
As for your comments on adoption, yes it is expensive. And no there shouldn’t be a price on a human life. But as I’ve explained above, repeatedly, there are serious issues and honest reasons that require certain costs. The legal work involved in bringing a child into your family is no small thing. Someone has to do that work. Someone has to pay for it. Maybe our system is screwed up, and there are broken things about it, but that reality is true: things cost money and it has to come from somewhere.
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.
– Legal Fees – Even if you are working with an agency, you will be required to pay legal fees or attorney fees. Again, make sure you know what your agency expects you to pay out of pocket ahead of time. We, too, had to hire an attorney for our adoption (our agency uses the same one every time) and paid an additional approximately $3,000 for attorney’s fees. There are also filing fees associated with adoptions. Again, make sure you know if you have to pay these out of pocket or if they are included in the agency fee.
– 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.
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).
Some children have multiple diagnoses that affect their health, social and emotional well-being, and school performance. The more you know, the better prepared you can be to advocate for your child and handle situations as they may arise. Accurate information will also help you know more clearly why and when you may need to seek support from various professionals, get advice from experienced foster and adoptive parents, or tap into other community resources for help.
We are social animals, so it seems natural to us that our cats would enjoy socialization, too. With few exceptions, though, the adult wild and domestic cats lead mostly solitary lives. They can be happy in groups, but they don’t automatically seek companionship with other cats the same way dogs do. Before you decide to add a second cat to your home, ask yourself if your cat needs a friend and if you are prepared to meet the needs of multiple cats.
The adopting parent(s) need to pass an Adoption Home Study. A social worker will visit the home, meet with all family members and collect required documentation. Most states require the Home Study be conducted by a licensed agency, although some states allow a private social worker to conduct the Home Study. It is safer to go with an agency study, even if a private social worker can to it, because if you adopt a child from another state, they may require an agency Home Study. In that scenario, you would need to begin again (losing time and money). Also it is prudent to confirm what other services the Home Study provider offers or if you can call with questions after the study is completed. Fees for the Home Study are set by the social worker or agency.
20. Adoption is still a subject that requires some careful treading in many circles. People will tell you that the issue you are facing is a normal, age-appropriate issue. That may well be true, but adoption adds another layer and you, as the parent, must be prepared to dig in and work through the issue with your child. Other people will respond to adoption thoughtlessly (the grandparent who treats children who were adopted differently, the teacher who points out your child any time adoption is a topic, the neighbor who is uncomfortably nosy). In choosing to adopt, you are also choosing to be both your child’s protector and your child’s advocate. You will be responsible for educating the uncouth teacher and nosy neighbor. It is your job to have the difficult conversation with the thoughtless grandparent.
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!!
Explores some of the emotional ups and downs that adoptive parents may experience before, during, and after adoption. While every family is unique and every parent has different feelings and experiences, there are some general themes that emerge regarding adoptive parents' emotional responses. The purpose of the factsheet is to identify some of these themes, affirm common feelings, and provide links to resources that may help your family address adoption-related concerns.