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Finance a Life Event

The Average Cost of Adoption

Adopting a child can be a priceless experience. The adoption process, however, can be a costly one.

Adoption expenses such as home studies, medical, legal and living costs can vary greatly depending on the type of adoption you choose.

Bills can range from $2,500 or less for foster care adoptions1 and up to $40,0002 or more for foreign adoptions. That’s why your budget can be an important factor in your adoption process.

Foster Care Adoption – The Least Expensive Adoption Option

In 2016, more than 100,000 U.S. children3 were waiting to be adopted through their state foster care agency. While infants are occasionally offered through foster care situations, a majority of the children in foster care are older and may come with special needs or circumstances such as needing to be adopted with siblings.

Foster care adoptions are typically the least expensive type of adoption. Costs can range from $0 (thanks to reimbursable or waived expenses) to $2,5001. Public foster care agencies may often waive home study costs. Court costs and legal fees can also be reimbursed. Depending upon family income, adoption tax credits may be available to help defray expenses.

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Private Agency Adoption – Adoption Experts Help Find a Baby for You to Adopt

Choosing to adopt a child can be an emotional process.  Private adoption agencies specialize in pairing families with birth mothers. Because they’ve worked with hundreds (if not thousands) of families in similar situations, they may very well be in an ideal position to understand the questions, concerns, and challenges which can arise during the adoption process.

Fees for private agency adoptions generally fall between $5,000 and $40,0001. These costs can include home study expenses, birth parent counseling, adoptive parent preparation and training, and social work services needed to match a child to a prospective family.

When working with a private adoption agency, be sure to get a clear listing of the services covered.  In addition, many agencies offer the ability to pay in installments tied to certain steps within the process.  Knowing when certain fees are likely to come due can help you build a better budget as you move through the adoption process.

Independent Adoption – Finding a Child to Adopt Without an Agency’s Assistance

It’s not uncommon for adoptive families and birth mothers to find each other without the help of an agency. In these situations, an attorney generally works with the adoptive and birth parents to develop an appropriate schedule of reimbursements to the birth mother for medical or other expenses.

The average cost for independent adoptions runs between $10,000 and $15,0001. Independent adoptions may not include the levels of pre-adoption education or post-adoption support you may find with private agencies.  It’s also important to note that independent adoptions may be less predictable and may run into unusual situations. As a result, expenses may run higher than $40,000.1

Another consideration in independent adoptions is that costs may not be reimbursable if the birth mother changes her mind and chooses to raise the child instead.

Foreign Adoption – Adopting a Child from Another Country

Costs can vary widely depending upon the country you decide to adopt from.

Costs for foreign adoptions can include:

  • Child’s medical care and treatment
  • Adopting parents’ travel and stays in the child’s home country
  • Foreign attorney fees
  • Foreign agency fees
  • Passport fees
  • Visa processing fees and costs of visa medical examinations
  • Translation fees

Recent foreign adoption fee estimates ultimately average between $20,000 and $40,000.2 These costs include the expenses listed above but could be impacted by requirements for prospective parents to travel to the foreign country and stay for a certain amount of time. In addition, charges from the foreign country can also have a significant impact.

I Know I Want To Adopt: Now How Do I Pay For It?

Many companies offer adoption benefits for their employees. A good first step: check if your company’s Human Resources department offers adoption benefits.

With many types of adoption nearing the $40,000 mark, you may need an additional resource to help you take care of bills that can spring up.  Personal loans, available up to $35,000, are an option for financing an adoption. With fixed rates and various repayment timelines, some soon-to-be parents may prefer a personal loan to help with both predictable and unexpected adoption expenses. No matter how you choose to finance your adoption, the journey will be a priceless experience.

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