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How Much Does It Cost to Adopt?

Though certainly, money isn’t everything, and where there is a will, there is a way – as they say – still, finances do factor into creating a family through adoption.

Let me start by saying that a reputable agency will delineate the cost and will tell who is responsible for paying each cost and what the fee includes. What I will lay out for you here are estimates so you can get a general idea of the cost.

The first cost you may incur is the cost of the home study. The 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 would generally be paid by you, the prospective parent.

Now, in the case of foster care adoption, there may be no charge for conducting the home study, although you 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 (licensed) the 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.

It’s important to point out that even if you travel out of the country, you will be completing a home study and that will be part of your dossier or application to adopt in a particular country.

The legal fees are incurred because 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 and then you would pay again to finalize in the US. And 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. You’ll also have any fees associated with any requirements for naturalization.

Just as soon as I quote what the going rate is, they’ll change! So these are ballpark figures.

Let’s Look at Specific Costs

Most of the costs of adopting are dependent upon the type of adoption you are planning to pursue.

Remember how we talked about the different types of adoption – adopting an infant, fostering to adopt, adopting through foster care, ie waiting children, siblings or a child with challenges. According to one source, here is the average cost of adoption for private arrangements in 2017 (short): If you go through an agency you would have been looking at $43,239. If you hired an attorney – the cost would have been $37,829 that adoptive parents paid. By the way, foster care adoption is going to be much less, even a foster care adoption but using a private agency to do the paperwork, etc will be way less.

Adopting an infant has its own cost bracket. Domestic infant adoptions fall into three general categories, each with its own attendant costs:

  1. A licensed private agency adoption or facilitated/unlicensed agency adoption costs between $5,000 to $40,000.
  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.

As you can see, there is a wide range when it comes to the cost of adoption. The good news is that if you want to adopt a child, it is possible to find ways to finance your decision. The United States government currently offers a tax credit for adoption which many people would be eligible for. Many states also offer incentives to adopt children with special needs or children who are considered hard to place. Some people take out a second mortgage. Others ask family and friends for financial help. There are many ways to meet the cost of the adoption.

Between now and your next lesson – now is a good time to sit down and take a look at your budget. If you are leaning toward a certain type of adoption, would your current financial situation support that? If not, what are some ways you could finance an adoption? Write down your thoughts and ideas in your journal.

Next week, we will have some time to review what you have learned. As I mentioned before, there is a lot of information packed into these lessons. I want to make sure that you take away a good understanding of the key concepts and elements of adoption so you will be able to make the best decision for yourself!