Let’s now break down what the costs are in adoption, starting with intercountry (or international) adoption. The first step in nearly any adoption process is having a home study completed. For intercountry adoptions, you will need to make sure that the home study agency you choose is licensed to write home studies for the country you wish to adopt from. This may mean that you cannot use the least expensive agency, so be aware of that. A home study written for an international adoption is usually around $2,000 to $4,000 dollars. This is what you will pay your agency, but there are most costs as well. You will need to be fingerprinted, which can generally cost about $60 per person. (Your state will probably vary.) You will also need to have physicals and often a TB test done—which, depending on your insurance, will cost you out of pocket. If you live in a more rural area and use water from a well on your property, you will also have to pay to have your well water tested. Finally, if you live outside a certain distance from your adoption agency, you may also have to pay a travel reimbursement to your agency for your social worker’s travel costs.
In cases of domestic infant adoption, prospective adoptive parents may be obligated to pay birth mother expenses. These birth mother expenses are typically defined as any pregnancy-related expenses that need to be covered during the expectant mother’s pregnancy and for a short period after the birth of her child. These expenses often include maternity clothes, medical care related to the pregnancy, and often some living expenses such as utility bills and rent. There are states in which birth mother expenses are not required and others where the amount is regulated. There are also some situations in which the birth mother may choose to waive the acceptance of birth mother expense compensation. You can find out more about birth mother expenses in your state at this link.
When using a sliding scale, an agency sets a fee for its services based on the family's income or ability to pay. If you are exploring working with a private agency, ask if this is an option, even if it is not mentioned in the agency's literature. A sliding scale can make the cost of a homestudy, parent preparation classes, or post placement supervision much more affordable for low or middle income families, allowing them to focus their financial plans on raising their children rather than only on adopting them.
Pre-natal care and hospital costs will be paid for by the adopting family if the birth parent has no medical coverage and does not have Medicaid. While the baby’s hospital bill may be covered under the adoptive parent’s medical insurance, the birth mother’s expenses are not. Any recommended specialist appointments or testing is the responsibility of the adoptive parent(s).
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.
While many feel by charging for adoption services “you are putting a price tag on a child,” there are real costs associated with adoption. Adoptions through foster care are paid for through taxes. The public institutions get state and sometimes federal monies to make adoption plans and provide needed services, including monthly stipends to adopting families whose children qualify. In a private domestic or international adoption, the adopting parents typically pay for all services permitted by state and federal regulations.
Loans may make sense to cover large and immediate expenses that may be reimbursed later by your employer, the military, or the government's reimbursement of non-recurring adoption expenses. One source of loans is the National Adoption Foundation which can be accessed through www.nafadopt.org. The National Adoption Foundation also awards grants for families in need.
– 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.
Part of what drives up agency costs is the fact that adoption professionals need to specialize. For instance, as a birth parent, I had a social worker who only worked with birth parents, and my son's adoptive parents had a social worker who only worked with adoptive parents. This prevented a conflict of interest for our social workers; mine didn't have pre-adoptive parents whispering in her ear. As Kelly Ellison of Your Adoption Finance Coach puts it, “Each professional involved in the process does a specific job, and that's how the prices go up.”
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.
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 cost varies drastically between different modes of adoption. Location, agency costs, private attorney costs, foster care benefits, and international concerns such as travel or translation are all factors that affect the overall price of an adoption. Below are the average costs for most if not all of the expenses included in the typical types of adoption available to prospective parents.
Open Adoption - ArticlesA Brief History of Open AdoptionOpen Adoption with the Family and Your ChildIf You Give Your Child Up for Adoption, Can You Still Have Contact with Them?Questions to Ask Adoptive Parents and Tips When Meeting ThemBuilding a Relationship with the Adoptive FamilyTrusting the Adoptive Family in Open Adoption10 Open Adoption Facts That Might Surprise YouOpen Adoption Pros and Cons
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).
Most children who are photolisted on adoptuskids.org are eligible for adoption assistance provided by the federal Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Program. It can take the form of a one-time payment, ongoing financial assistance, or both, in addition to Medicaid or other medical assistance. Read more about Title IV-E in Adoption Assistance for Children Adopted from Foster Care, a fact sheet from Child Welfare Information Gateway.
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.
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.
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.
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.