How Much Does it Cost to Adopt?
How to Navigate Your Options and the Associated Costs
There are many ways to adopt a child, all with varying costs. Learn about your options so you can focus on what's most important—family.
Making the decision to start or grow your family is momentous, thrilling and potentially overwhelming. When you choose adoption, there are many factors to consider. Is your child in the United States or another country? Will you work with a private agency or your state’s public foster care system? And how much is this all going to cost? Thankfully, there are options and supports available to you when you are ready to bring a child into your family, because above everything else, that’s what this is all about.
Domestic Adoption: Agency and Independent
Adopting a healthy infant may require a longer wait time and higher fees, but these factors can vary widely from case to case. Many families choose to go through an agency for private adoptions within the United States. A credible agency will carefully match you with birth parents and provide support through every step of the process. But that support comes with a price—adoption through a private agency is likely to run from $20,000 to $45,000.
If you do not need to be matched with birth parents, using an attorney to complete an independent adoption may be the best route. An independent adoption will range from $15,000 to $40,000. Some attorneys may connect birth parents with adoptive parents, but that is not the norm. In most cases, families using independent adoption are already connected with their birth parents.
In either case, the time and cost may be steep. But private adoption is typically the path parents take to bring home their healthy babies. And every step of that path will feel worth it when you have your child snuggled in your arms.
Adopting internationally will add an additional layer of requirements and fees. Mandatory education classes, travel and documentation may bring costs higher than a domestic adoption. Inter-country adoptions typically range from $20,000 to $50,000. It is also important to consider the laws specific to the country of adoption when making your decision. Countries participating in the Hague Convention, an international treaty, adhere by additional standards and guidelines to protect children and families. If you are adopting internationally, you will want to research your desired country’s specific laws and regulations.
Inter-country adoption can be a difficult process, but there are children all over the world without the protection of a loving family. Do your research and build your support network—your child may be a flight or two away.
Foster Care Adoption
Adopting a child through your state’s public agency is the lowest cost option. All or most of the cost is covered by state-provided financial assistance and reimbursements. Most children available for adoption are older, but it is possible to adopt a baby or toddler. Many children in foster care may have additional medical or learning needs. They will all have experienced some form of childhood trauma. Most states provide training and support to adoptive families, so you can help your child heal and thrive.
Many states encourage families to become foster parents before adopting. While this option allows parents and children to bond sooner, it also presents the possibility that the child may be reunified with his birth family. Foster parents are expected to actively support reunification when it is in the best interest of the child.
There may be an additional emotional toll when adopting a child through foster care—in particular, the heartbreak of potentially reunifying a child you hoped to adopt with his birth parents. But that risk is a reality in any type of adoption, and the reward is well worth it. Your life, and your child’s life, will be changed forever. There are over 100,000 children in the United States waiting for loving families; maybe your child is one of them.
There are programs and grants available to help families with the cost of adoption. Federal or state tax credits may be available. Many private agencies assess their costs based on a sliding scale. There are also grants available to certain families to help offset the costs. Don’t be afraid to ask for support—it’s out there.