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Costs of Adopting: Fact Sheet for Families

Prospective adoptive parents may be concerned about the financial costs of adopting an infant or child and their ability to meet these costs. While becoming a parent is rarely free of expenses (even pregnancy and childbirth can be relatively expensive without adequate insurance), adoptive parents often are faced with initial costs that can seem challenging.

However, with planning and with knowledge about the different types of adoptions and resources available, prospective adoptive parents should be able to develop a budget that includes most of the foreseeable expenses.

The Costs of Adopting a Child

The total cost of adopting varies from $0 to more than $40,000, depending on a number of factors. The chart below outlines some general categories of adoption and costs associated with the services provided. The wide range reflects the multitude of factors that may affect costs, including the type of adoption, the type of placement agency or facilitator, and the child's age and circumstances. Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to check with the agencies they are considering to find out more about specific costs for their circumstances.

Range of Adoption Costs
Foster Care Adoptions $0 - $2,500
Licensed Private Agency Adoptions $5,000 - $40,000+
Independent Adoptions $8,000 - $40,000+
Facilitated/Unlicensed Adoptions $5,000 - $40,000+
Intercountry Adoptions $7,000 - $30,000

Universal Expenses

Universal expenses are incurred by everyone who adopts a child. These expenses include home study expenses and court costs.

Home Study Expenses: A home study must be completed for all prospective parents, no matter what type of adoption they intend to pursue. The purpose of the home study is to prepare the prospective parents for the adoption, gather information about them so that an appropriate match between the child and parents can be made, and evaluate the fitness of the parents. The cost for the home study is generally paid by the prospective parents. In the case of foster care adoption, there may be no charge for conducting the home study, although parents may incur fees for medical or psychological evaluations that may be required as part of the process. With other types of adoption, the private agency or certified (or licensed) social worker may charge $1,000 to $3,000 for the home study. In some cases, the fee for the home study may be included in the overall agency fee.

Legal Fees: All domestic adoptions and some intercountry adoptions must be finalized in a court in the United States. Some intercountry adoptions are finalized in the child's country of origin. Although not required in these situations, parents often choose also to finalize the placement in a U.S. court to provide additional protection of their child's legal status. All of these procedures incur a cost. The cost for court document preparation can range from $500 to $2,000, while the cost for legal representation may range from $2,500 to $12,000 or more in some states.

Costs of Adopting for Certain Types of Adoption

In addition to the costs common to every adoption, adoptive parents generally incur costs specific to their type of adoption. The costs for three types of adoption are described here: foster care, domestic infant, and intercountry. These expenses are in addition to the universal expenses described above in most cases.

Domestic infant adoption costs: $5,000 to $40,000. These vary widely according the type of agency used and, sometimes, the individual adoption circumstances. It is important for prospective parents to fully understand what is included in agency and attorney fees. In some cases, the cost of the home study is included, rather than broken out separately. Domestic infant adoptions fall into three general categories, each with its own attendant costs:

  1. Licensed private agency adoption costs: $5,000 to $40,000. Costs for this type of adoption include a fee charged by the agency and may include the cost of the home study, birth parent counseling, adoptive parent preparation and training, and social work services involved in matching a child to a prospective family.
  2. Independent adoption costs: $8,000 to $40,000 (average is $10,000-$15,000). Independent adoptions handled by an attorney generally result in costs that may include medical expenses for the birth mother (as allowed by law), as well as separate legal fees for representing adoptive and birth parents, and any allowable fees for advertising.
  3. Facilitated/unlicensed agency adoption costs: $5,000 to $40,000. These costs are generally the same as costs of licensed agencies.

Intercountry adoption costs: $7,000 to $30,000. Agencies that provide intercountry adoption services charge fees that range from $7,000 to $30,000. These fees generally include dossier and immigration processing and court costs. In some cases, they may include a required donation to the foreign orphanage or agency. Overall costs may be affected by the type of entity in the foreign country that is responsible for placing the child (e.g., government agency, government orphanage, charitable foundation, attorney, facilitator, or some combination thereof).

Concerned About the Costs of Adopting? Talk to an Attorney Today

When it comes to children, one of the biggest challenges is planning for the future. There's simply no way to predict the costs of raising your children, especially as health care and education costs continue to rise. On the flip side, there's also no way to quantify the richness they can add to your life. What is a little easier to predict are the costs of adoption. Each state has its own established adoption process, so speak with a local family law attorney before you start the process.

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