How Much Does an Adoption Cost?

Expanding a family isn’t easy for some. Adoption provides a way for you to share your love with a child who needs it regardless of if you can give birth to your own kids. But what does an adoption cost? And can you afford it? While the cost to adopt a child will vary, it can range from a few thousand dollars to $60,000 or more.

Breakdown of Adoption Cost

Depending on whether you adopt from a state agency or private one, there can be a number of factors that will influence the fees to add on to your family. Foreign adoptions will obviously involve many more costs than adopting domestically. Here are some of the most common fees for all types of adoption.

adoption cost

Home Study

In order to make sure that prospective parents have a suitable home for the foster child to live in, a home study is required. This can be done by a private or state agency and can cost up to $500 for the observation and reporting. Private agencies have been known to charge between $1,000 – 3,000 for home studies. This fee is often included in the overall agency fee, however.

Background Checks

Adoptive parents must usually pass rigorous background checks to be sure they are fit parents. Criminal and credit checks are common. There may also be an adoption cost associated with drug testing or letters of recommendation from your employers or faith leaders. These can range from $50 – a few hundred dollars each, per parent.

Legal Fees

Whether you adopt locally or from a foreign country, court costs and legal fees can be among the highest of all adoption costs. Court documents alone can cost between $500 and $2,000. The attorneys also have their own fees for services; they usually charge up to $6,000 for uncontested adoption proceedings (and even more if the adoption doesn’t go smoothly.) Not all adoptions will require the help of an attorney, however. Foster care adoptions that are uncontested can often be done for just court fees (which may be reimbursed by the state or county.)

Adoption Cost by Type

In addition to the common costs mentioned above, each type of adoption will also have specific costs.

Public Agency Adoptions

This type of adoption often results in a child being adopted from foster care. It can also be used for infants that have been relinquished by their parents. Fees for this kind of adoption range from nothing to $2500. They are also the most likely to be reimbursed or waived. Since many children from these situations also have behavioral, medical, or other difficulties, they may also qualify for additional state or federal aid that can cover some expenses.

Domestic Private Adoption Cost

Going through an agency to adopt a child outside of foster care is significantly more costly. Licensed private agencies can sometimes bundle the costs for everything from court fees to home studies into one “agency” fee. It ranges from $5,000 – $40,000 and may be based on a sliding scale of affordability for the parents.

Independent adoptions take place without an agency. They usually occur when an adoptive parent and the child’s parents find each other through ads or other private means. Costs for this type of adoption are legally limited, and cannot lawfully allow for a “payment” for the child or reimbursement for a number of expenses. State laws vary as to what can be included in the fees. Expect to pay much more for this type of adoption; $40,000 or more is not an uncommon amount.

One final type of domestic private adoption is that done by unlicensed individuals. For states that allow it, there is generally less protection for adoptive parents. Fees can be the same as those for licensed independent adoptions, but there is generally no monetary recourse if things don’t go as planned.

what does adoption cost

International Adoption Cost

Adopting a child from another country will require you to pay a number of additional fees compared to domestic adoption. In addition to the common home study and legal fees, there are travel-specific costs and costs unique to the country you are adopting from. The costs range widely from country to country, with the average falling somewhere between $15,000 and $30,000. There is usually not the same type of financial assistance available for these adoptions.

Several trips may be made in the course of the adoption that will require travel and accommodation costs for both parents and – finally – the adopted child. Additional costs may include:

  • Translator fees
  • Medical care and treatment
  • Foreign court and attorney fees
  • Passport and VISA processing

In addition, some foreign adoptions also require a donation to be made to the orphanage the child is coming from.

Adoption cost ranges:

Low
High
Home Study$500.00$3,000.00
Background Checks$50.00$300.00
Court Documents$500.00$2,000.00
Legal Representation$0.00$6,000.00
Public Foster Agency Fees$0.00$2,500.00
Domestic Private Agency Fees$5,000.00$40,000.00
International Adoption Agency Fees$15,000.00$30,000.00

While tax credits and financing may help prospective parents with the costs of adoption, there can be other expenses beyond that of the actual adoption. Once such cost, counseling, is an optional portion of preparing for an adoption and can help families deal with issues common to newly-joined families. The cost for counseling can range from $50 – several hundred dollars an hour. It is often reimbursed by state agencies or covered by health insurance.

Sources:

https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/s-cost/