Economics of Adoption

By Jennifer Oster
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The economics of adoption are an important factor when considering adopting a child. While every adoption is different and the costs can vary widely, several key elements are similar and should be calculated into the assumed final cost. Additionally, some programs can help alleviate costly adoption expenditures. Understanding the economic aspects of adoption is the first step in creating a financial plan that is right for your family's adoption budget.

The Home Study

A home study is a mandatory procedure in which a social worker or another qualified worker performs an in-home evaluation of the adoptive parents home life. The official will assess the family's ability to parent and their physical space to determine the fitness of the home as a whole. Much like a counseling, these visits also serve to prepare potential adopters for what lies ahead in their adoption journey. This in-depth process can cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000 depending on your state and your adoption pathway. If available, state agencies might be cheaper than private agencies to conduct a home study.

Court Fees

Finalizing an adoption, whether domestic or international, has to be carried out in court of law. These costs can include document preparation, lawyers fees, parental rights terminations, court proceedings, background checks and finalization costs. Expect to spend up to $6,000 for these fees, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a website administered by the U.S. Department of Health and & Human Services. Corners can be cut by choosing to prepare some documents at home, and in some cases lawyers fees might be negotiated or done pro bono. Shop around for a lawyer who can give you a precise court fee estimate in order to make your budgeting plan ahead of time.

Other Expenses

Depending on the specific type of adoption, other fees are necessary. Private adoptions might require upfront preparations such as photo albums and videos to present to birth mothers. Some open, domestic adoptions require birth mother expenses, including, living expenses, medical expenses, and possibly monthly allowances. International adoptions may require country-specific fees, and inevitable travel costs such as passports, airline tickets and hotel stays. Also, all successful adoptions will result in bringing home a baby or a child, so be prepared to have your monthly expenses rise after homecoming.

Financial Assistance

Several government programs are designed to aid families who have adopted a child. Both domestic and international adoptions qualify for the Adoption Tax Credit given by the IRS for expenses up to $12,650 per adopted child, according to This tax credit can be used to help defer costs associated with adoption, including legal fees, home study fees, and even travel costs. In addition to the national Adoption Tax Credit, some government-based adoption assistance programs are income-based, and some programs offered by employers help defer costs of adoption. If adoption costs are kept low, it is possible to be reimbursed for the entire cost of your adoption.

About the Author

Jennifer Oster holds a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences from Louisiana State University and is also a certified lactation counselor. An expert in the field of infant and maternal nutrition, she began writing professionally in 2005 and has been featured in many nationally acclaimed magazines.