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Health & Family

How Much Does Adoption Cost

Couple Holding their new adopted baby joyfully

Adopting a child can be a priceless experience. The adoption process, however, can be a costly one. Adoption costs for things such as home studies, medical exams, and legal counsel can vary greatly depending on the type of adoption you choose.

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

Here’s a quick review of four different types of adoption and the costs associated with them:

1) Foster Care Adoption Costs – The Least Expensive Option

In 2016, more than 100,000 U.S. children3 were waiting to be adopted through state foster care agencies. While infants are occasionally offered through foster care, a majority of the children in foster care are older and may come with special needs or circumstances, such as a requirement to keep siblings together as part of an adoption.

Foster care adoptions are typically the least expensive option. 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 additional adoption expenses.

Graph showing the average costs of adoption

2) Private Agency Adoption Costs – 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 that can arise during the adoption process.

Fees for private agencies generally fall between $5,000 and $40,0001. These adoption 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 its services. Many agencies offer the ability to pay in installments, tied to certain benchmarks within the process.  Knowing when certain fees are due can help you budget.

3) Independent Adoption Costs – 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 usually works with the adoptive and birth parents to develop an appropriate schedule to pay for medical and other expenses.

The average cost for independent adoptions runs between $10,000 and $15,0001. But independent adoptions may not include the levels of education or support offered by private agencies.  It’s also important to note independent adoptions may be less predictable and may result in unexpected 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.

4) Foreign Adoption Costs – Adopting a Child from Another Country

Adoption 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
  • Travel and lodging in the child’s home country
  • Foreign attorney’s fees
  • Foreign agency’s fees
  • Passport fees
  • Visa processing fees and costs of visa medical examinations
  • Translation fees

Recent foreign adoption cost estimates averaged between $20,000 and $40,000.2 Those estimates included the expenses listed above but requirements for prospective parents to travel to the foreign country and stay for an extended period of time could inflate fees. 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 adoption costs that can approach $40,000, you may need an additional resource to help you take care of bills that can spring up.  Discover 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 costs. No matter how you choose to finance your adoption, the journey will be a priceless experience.