Why Is Adoption So Expensive? Why Adoption Costs So Much

Depending on where you reside and the agency or attorney you select, domestic infant adoption costs between $20,000 and $45,000 through either an adoption agency or an independent attorney. Why is adoption so expensive?

Adoption is expensive due to the involvement of multiple professionals that make up the legal process of adoption. Social workers ensure the adoptive family is fit to adopt, while lawyers finalize the legalities of the adoption. Counselors provide their expertise, and adoption agencies are compensated for their valuable services.

Couple doing their budget

The costs of adoption depend on the type of adoption you choose. Let’s go over four of the most common types of adoption.

Adoption Through a Public Agency (Foster Care)

The most affordable method of adoption is through a state agency, often known as foster-to-adopt.

You place yourself in the position of adopting a child in your care once he or she becomes available for adoption by accepting a foster child into your home with the intention of adoption.

Additionally, ongoing financial assistance can be accessible, especially if you’re adopting a child with special needs.

Advantages of Adopting from Foster Care

  • Very affordable
  • There may be financial aid available
  • You can take in orphans who are in need of a home

Disadvantages of Adopting from Foster Care

  • You need to be more open-minded about the child you adopt
  • It’s unlikely that you’ll adopt a newborn child
  • Foster children have likely suffered trauma, loss, and grief that will require special understanding

Costs of Adopting from Foster Care

Adoption through public agencies (foster care) is often quite affordable, costing anywhere from nothing to $2,500.

happy family walking in summer park and having fun

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Did you know there are different types of adoption? Learn about why open adoptions are the most popular type of adoption today.

Adoption Through a Private Agency

Families that have the financial means to do so frequently choose to adopt through a private agency.

Families that adopt a child through an agency can rely on the contacts, materials, and experts of the agency to ease the transition and prepare them for the adoption journey.

Families who have their hearts set on a new baby should consider private adoption.

A newborn cannot be guaranteed in the majority of other adoption scenarios, including foreign and public agency adoptions.

Advantages of Adopting from a Private Agency

  • The potential to adopt a younger child
  • You have access to resources and assistance from adoption agencies.

Disadvantages of Adopting from a Private Agency

  • Adoptions through private agencies are sometimes highly-priced
  • Newborn waiting lists can be quite long

Costs to Adopt from a Private Agency

Private agency adoption ranges from $30,000 to $40,000 on average.

Independent Adoption

Independent adoptions can happen in a variety of ways.

These adoptions range in complexity and difficulty from parents adopting a baby from a teenage woman to family members adopting another family member’s child.

Lawyers are generally engaged in the creation of the legal documents that fulfill the adoption agreement, even if independent adoptions are frequently negotiated by parties participating in the adoption process.

As a result, independent adoptions are still rather pricey, with the only significant cost reductions coming from skipping agency fees.


It’s probably no mystery that adoption attorneys assist with the adoption process. But what exactly do adoption attorneys do?

Advantages of Independent Adoption

  • The potential to avoid some costs, such as agency fees
  • Negotiating your own conditions for an adoption

Disadvantages of Independent Adoption

  • Once a child is born, there is no assurance that you will be able to adopt him or her
  • Independent negotiations give potential for tension and uncertainty

Costs of Independent Adoption

Independent adoptions can be as high as $40,000 or as low as $10,000 depending on one’s own unique circumstances.

International Adoption

A child from another country is brought to the United States through international adoption.

This is typically one of the more expensive options because of the difficulty and red tape involved in obtaining citizenship for the child and working with other governments.

Adoptive parents who decide on an international adoption must satisfy the standards of the other country in addition to the usual requirements for adoption inside the United States.

Depending on the host nation, these criteria are of varying degrees of difficulty.


Most of us know what adoption is, but did you know there are different types of adoption? Read our full adoption resource here.

Advantages of International Adoption

  • There are children of various ages available
  • Children who might otherwise remain in an orphanage can be adopted

Disadvantages of International Adoption

  • Due to mandatory government taxes and travel costs, international adoptions are typically quite expensive
  • During the course of your adoption, a country may alter its laws on international adoption

Average Costs of International Adoption

International adoptions usually range from $15,000 to $30,000, not including travel expenses, visas, etc.

Why Is Adoption So Expensive?

With so many professionals involved in the adoption process, it’s no wonder why adoption can be so expensive.

When you start to look at all of the pieces of the adoption puzzle, the costs begin to come together with a bit more clarity.

Let’s take a look at who is involved in the adoption process, as well as a variety of other things that influence the cost of child adoption.


Learn how long adoption takes and why adoption takes so long.

Adoption Attorneys

The typical hourly rate for adoption attorneys is from $200 to $300. For uncontested adoption cases with no unusual circumstances or concerns, some attorneys may charge a fixed rate, such as $2,500 for an uncontested petition.

What Do Adoption Attorneys Do?

You can get assistance from an adoption attorney during the entire adoption of a child or infant’s legal process. They will safeguard your rights during the process and assist you in choosing the best adoption agency or independent adopter.

This is what an adoption attorney does:

  • Handles any arising conflicts or legal actions
  • Attends the required court dates
  • Keeps up with changes to local, state, and federal legislation
  • Keeps in touch with adoption agencies
  • Additional steps to legally assist adoption
  • Locates a private or public adoption agency
  • Prepares documents on the client’s behalf
  • Offers constant legal advice and assistance
  • Assists clients in fulfilling contractual obligations
  • Negotiates the adoption’s terms and circumstances

Parents may feel reassured when engaging an adoption lawyer due to the complexity of the adoption procedures. Expectant parents may feel that the process is unfair because of lengthy waiting times.

By hiring an adoption attorney, you may be certain that you are taking all the necessary precautions to bring your child home.

Adoption Therapists

The problems that adoptive families have will be well-known to a therapist who specializes in adoption difficulties. In order to smooth the transition during this joyful time, adoptive (and foster) families might benefit from consulting a knowledgeable specialist even before issues develop.

Experienced adoption therapists are the best professionals to address the worries of adoptive parents and effectively treat their adopted children.

Adoption counselors are seasoned therapists who have a practical grasp of loss, attachment, trauma, and brain development as well as awareness of difficulties related to adoption.

A child’s troubles may have their roots in the abuse or neglect they endured before being adopted, according to therapists who are knowledgeable about adoption.

They believe that in the setting of new family bonds and with parents who are capable of supporting children who have experienced traumatizing beginnings, newborns may heal themselves.

The therapist you select must understand how crucial it is to involve parents (and perhaps other family members) in the healing process.

You might want to reevaluate if that professional is right for you and your family if the therapist you’re seeing tries to exclude you because you’re a parent.

Adoption Agency Staff

An adoption agency’s job is to support potential adoptive parents, the birth mother, and/or the birth family during the adoption process. They act as the middleman, supporting the birth parents as well as potential adoptive families during the adoption process.

Agencies are subject to state licensing (and many meet other accreditations based on the types of adoptions they facilitate, like international adoptions from Hague Convention countries).

They may help potential adoptive parents as well as birth parents and moms. It’s crucial to conduct research to find out which organizations deal with both birth mothers and fathers because some only do one or the other.

It is quite beneficial to use an adoption agency, especially when you negotiate the formalities, costs, and procedures. You may even be obliged by the state to utilize an adoption agency or attorney in some cases.

In the US, there are two different kinds of adoption agencies. both public and private adoption organizations.

Each aids in the facilitation of domestic adoptions and the determination of adoptive parents’ eligibility. and finish the potential adoptive parents’ home study procedure or assist them with it.

The major purpose of public adoption agencies is to facilitate the adoption of a child from your state’s foster care system.

Private adoption agencies assist birth moms with locating adoptive families for their children, with the completion of legal documentation, facilitating adoption agreements, the organization of adoption payments, and with the settlement of birth mother expenditures (the money you receive to cover expenses incurred during your pregnancy).

In this article, when adoption agencies are mentioned, they mostly relate to private adoption agencies.

State Social Worker Conducting the Home Study

Home study is a significant step in starting a family via adoption. A home study is an excellent tool for evaluation, but it also gives you factual information about the adoption procedure that will give you more confidence and less anxiety as you go through the process.

In the case of international adoption, there are significant differences in the precise home study procedures and regulations between agencies, states, and the child’s country of origin. Additionally, they might change.

State laws and regulations indicate who can do a home study that will be accepted by the court and will hear the adoption petition.

Depending on the state, any of the following may conduct a home study:

  • The department or a licensed child-placing agency.
  • A professional social worker.
  • A professional psychologist or therapist.
  • A person chosen by the court.
  • An organization or person who has been approved or authorized by the department.
  • The child’s tribe, when a person wants to adopt an Indian child.

The following three goals are the focus of home studies:

  • Family consultations
  • Home examination
  • Collecting all necessary paperwork

Every member of the family will be questioned during family interviews, either in a public setting or privately.

These appointments provide potential adoptive parents the chance to ask questions and assist the social worker in conducting a complete home study procedure.

The home inspection lets the home study provider determine whether any home improvement recommendations are necessary to fulfill state criteria.

Background Checks and FBI Clearance

Before approving the placement of a child, prospective foster or adoptive parents must submit criminal background checks, including fingerprint-based checks of national crime information databases, regardless of whether foster care maintenance payments or adoption assistance payments are to be made on behalf of the child.

Verifications of any potential foster or adoptive parents and any other adult residing in the home’s information from any child abuse and neglect register kept by the state.

Checks of any other State’s child abuse and neglect register where a prospective parent or other adult has lived within the previous five years.

Before receiving kinship guardianship, any relative guardian and any other adult residing in their household must submit to criminal record checks, including fingerprint-based checks of national crime information databases.

These extensive investigations use up state and federal staffing resources which in turn adds to the cost of the adoption process.

Paperwork Processing

There are several adoption professionals spending their time and resources on helping to process adoption paperwork. The following types of paperwork will need to be processed:

  • Home study paperwork
  • Background check paperwork
  • Legal paperwork
  • Court forms
  • Therapist paperwork
  • Adoption agency paperwork

Processing paperwork takes time and money, which adds to the overall cost of adoption.

Birth-Mother Expenses

Since prospective adoptive parents are responsible for the birth mother’s expenses, many are curious about what exactly these costs entail.

The following are some general things you should know about the expenses you may need to cover on the birth mother’s behalf, as allowed by state law:

  • Hospital and medical fees associated with pregnancy
  • Lifestyle costs incurred temporarily by the mother during her pregnancy
  • The cost of counseling
  • Attorney and court costs
  • The travel expenses to and from the doctor

How to Make Adoption Cheaper

Many couples must accept the fact that, for one reason or another, they are unable to have children. Additionally, the price of adoption has increased dramatically.

There are some ways to finance adoption so that you can start a family right away.

Adoption Loans

Loans may be the solution if you are unable to obtain grant money or just need to bridge a funding gap for adoption.

Before considering loans, you should probably look for grants and any other crowdfunding opportunities, unless the thought of publishing your adoption story online seems so horrifying that you’d rather go into debt.

Adoption-related loans are available in a variety of forms. They come with different terms and conditions and are distributed by a wide range of financial organizations.

It is highly personal to decide whether or not to apply for an adoption financing program.

Whether or whether you should apply for an adoption loan may depend on the kind of loans that are offered. Below is a list of adoption loan options that you may want to consider:

Loans for adoption might be quite beneficial. Many families have found them to be essential for defraying adoption expenses, and they’ve had positive results working with the adoption loan program.

But this is a serious financial choice that needs to be carefully considered. It’s a big decision to get an adoption loan.

Many financial experts advise against using these resources unless they are really essential. It is strongly advised that you consult with a financial expert before applying for an adoption loan so they can assess the conditions of the agreement and the possibility that doing so will be a wise financial move for you.

Foster Care Adoption

Adopting a child from foster care may be an exceptionally economical method for parents to expand their families because it is often far less expensive than other adoption alternatives.

Adoption of children who are treated as state wards is referred to as foster care adoption. For their own protection, these children have frequently been taken from their homes.

Prospective adoptive families might adopt a child from foster care in one of two ways:

Adoption: Children whose parent’s parental rights have been completely terminated may be adopted by an adoptive family straight away.

Foster to Adopt: Children who still have their biological parents as guardians require temporary and maybe permanent families.

Foster homes are required while the legal matters involving the parents are being resolved. The children will require permanent homes if the court ultimately chooses to completely revoke the parents’ rights.

Your choice of route will affect not only how much your foster care adoption will cost, but also how long it will take to complete.

For the most accurate estimate of the typical cost of foster care adoption in their state, it’s advised every prospective adoptive parent consult with a specialist.

Adoption Grants

There is a solid reason why adoption grants are so well-liked in the adoptive community. Grants offer no interest and no personal expense, in contrast to other adoption financing choices like adoption loans.

Grants, to put it simply, are similar to gifts; they are not credit lines that must be repaid over time.

You do not have to repay any adoption grants that you may have received. In essence, these are adoption funds that are free.

Although there are clear reasons for their appeal, adoption grants have drawbacks as well. Whether you are adopting or thinking about adopting, knowing the ins and outs of adoption grants is crucial.

Careful planning and preparation are essential for achieving successful adoption finance. When requesting adoption funds, it’s crucial to have a strategy in place.

There are a few places you can contact to apply for an adoption grant:

Grants for adoption are often given out by nonprofit institutions. For their adoption funding, these organizations will have lengthy application procedures.

There is typically a waiting period following the submission of an application while a batch of applications is being examined.

In some situations, traditional personal loans from banking organizations might deliver you cash on hand the next day. The situation will be different if you apply for adoption grants.

Nonprofits make up the majority of adoption grant providers. Since they have few resources, they frequently are unable to support every eligible application they receive.

In other words, even if you believe you are eligible to obtain funds for adoption assistance from a certain organization, you can still not be given the grant because of budget limitations.

Fund-Raising for Adoption

With a creative mind, there are actually many ways hopeful parents can save money for adoption:

  • Sell T-shirts
  • Have a bake sale
  • Hold a garage sale
  • Participate in an online auction
  • Host a pancake breakfast or a taco dinner
  • Make and sell Hope bracelets

There are countless ways to raise money for adoption. Let your imagination run wild!

Adoption Tax Credits

The IRS gives an adoption tax credit along with other advantageous tax benefits relating to employer-provided adoption assistance to provide relief from some of these fees and costs.

These adoption tax advantages are available to the majority of adoptive parents.

The adoption tax credit is a non-refundable tax credit designed to help you offset certain adoption-related expenses that you incur.

You must fulfill the modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) requirements and submit Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses, in order to be eligible for the credit.

Because the credit is nonrefundable, you can carry over any unused portion for up to five years if you can’t utilize the whole value in the first year you claim it.

For instance, if you use the entire credit in 2021 but only owe $10,000 in taxes, the remaining $4,440 credit for adopting an eligible child rolls over to the following year.

According to the IRS, an eligible child is any individual who is less than 18 years old or who, regardless of age, meets the criteria for being handicapped and unable to care for oneself physically or intellectually.

It’s important for me to point out that I am not a tax professional. For the most accurate tax information, you will want to contact an accountant or use this provided link to read more.

Sources

Trina Greenfield - Adoption Author

About the Author:
Trina Greenfield is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina does not run an adoption agency. Her website is strictly information-based, so she is able to provide unbiased, credible information that she hopes will help guide those along their journey.