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Intercountry Adoption Costs

Many hopeful parents considering different types of adoption find international adoption to be an attractive option because it's generally faster and sometimes less expensive than adopting within the United States (domestic adoption).

The cost of international adoption can still be quite expensive, especially when you factor in the additional costs associated with travel to a foreign country and agency fees.

And as with other immigrant visa requirements, international or "intercountry" adoption also incurs certain legal and administrative fees.

Here are the intercountry adoption costs if you consider an international adoption program:

Intercountry Adoption Costs: Agency Fees

There are many different adoption agencies that provide international adoption services. The fees range between $20,000 and $50,000 (according to a 2022 report).

The cost of adoption generally includes fees for dossiers, immigration processing, and legal fees. In some cases, adoptive parents may also need to pay a required donation to the foreign foster care system orphanage or agency.

Additionally, adoptive parents are required to undergo a home study. Adoption home studies are required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Home studies ensure the safety of the home for the adoptee. The cost of adoptionhome studies can add thousands of dollars to the total cost of adoption depending on where you live.

Overall adoption expenses may also be affected by the foreign entity responsible for placing the adoptive child (e.g., government agency, government orphanage, charitable foundation, attorney, facilitator, or some combination thereof). Many intercountry adoption agencies offer a sliding adoption fee scale.

Depending on the country, there may be additional adoption fees, such as:

  • Child foster care (usually in South and Central American adoptions);
  • Adoptive parents' travel expenses and in-country stay(s) to process the adoption abroad;
  • Escorting fees, charged when adoptive families do not travel but instead hire escorts to go with the adoptee on the flight;
  • Child's medical care and treatment, especially if the child has special needs;
  • Translation fees;
  • Foreign legal fees;
  • Foreign attorney fees;
  • Foreign agency fees;
  • Passport fees; and
  • Visa processing fees and costs of visa medical examination.

Parental Leave and Financial Assistance

Taking time away from work to adopt a child from another country could be considered a "hidden" cost of intercountry adoption. Employers with more than 50 employees are required under the Family and Medical Leave Act to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newly adopted child.

Some employers also offer adoption benefits, including lump sums ranging from $500 to $25,300 but averaging $8,000 and five weeks of paid leave. If your employer offers these benefits, find out if they are paid before or after the finalization process.

Finalizing International Adoptions in U.S. Court

Some intercountry adoptions require finalization in a court in the United States. Others are finalized in the child's country of origin.

Although not required in these situations, adoptive parents often choose to also finalize the placement in a U.S. court.

All of these post-placement procedures incur a cost. The average cost for court document preparation can range from $500 to $2,000. The cost for legal representation may range from $2,500 to $12,000 or more in some States.

In some jurisdictions, an adoption finalization can happen without representation by an attorney.

There may be other post-placement services that add to the total cost of international adoption. For example, adoptive families may be visited by a social worker to report on the child's adjustment to their new home.

How Much Does Intercountry Adoption Cost? Ask an Attorney

Intercountry adoption can be complicated and daunting. An adoption professional can help ensure your legal rights, and the rights of your child, are properly established and secured.

If you need help with your international adoption journey, an adoption attorney can help with the adoption process.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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