Prospective adoptive parents may be concerned about the financial costs of adopting an infant or child and their ability to meet these costs. While becoming a parent is rarely free of expenses (even pregnancy and childbirth can be relatively expensive if there is inadequate insurance), adoptive parents often are faced with initial costs that can seem challenging. However, with planning and with knowledge about the different types of adoptions and available resources, they should be able to develop a budget that includes most of the foreseeable expenses.
The Cost of Adopting a Child
The total cost of adopting varies from $0 to more than $40,000, depending on a number of factors. The chart below outlines some general categories of adoption and costs associated with the services provided. The wide range reflects the multitude of factors that may affect costs, including the type of adoption, the type of placement agency or facilitator, and the child's age and circumstances. Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to check with the agencies they are considering to find out more about specific costs for their circumstances.
|Range of Adoption Costs|
|Foster Care Adoptions||$0 - $2,500|
|Licensed Private Agency Adoptions||$5,000 - $40,000+|
|Independent Adoptions||$8,000 - $40,000+|
|Facilitated/Unlicensed Adoptions||$5,000 - $40,000+|
|Intercountry Adoptions||$7,000 - $30,000|
Universal expenses are incurred by everyone who adopts a child. These expenses include home study expenses and court costs.
Home Study Expenses: A 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 is generally paid by the prospective parents. In the case of foster care adoption, there may be no charge for conducting the home study, although parents 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 or certified (or licensed) 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.
Legal Fees: 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. 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.
In addition to the costs common to every adoption, adoptive parents generally incur costs specific to their type of adoption. The costs for three types of adoption are described here: foster care, domestic infant, and intercountry. These expenses are in addition to the universal expenses described above in most cases.
Domestic infant adoption costs: $5,000 to $40,000. These vary widely according the type of agency used and, sometimes, the individual adoption circumstances. It is important for prospective parents to fully understand what is included in agency and attorney fees. In some cases, the cost of the home study is included, rather than broken out separately. Domestic infant adoptions fall into three general categories, each with its own attendant costs:
Intercountry adoption costs: $7,000 to $30,000. Agencies that provide intercountry adoption services charge fees that range from $7,000 to $30,000. These fees generally include dossier and immigration processing and court costs. In some cases, they may include a required donation to the foreign orphanage or agency. Overall costs may be affected by the type of entity in the foreign country that is responsible for placing the child (e.g., government agency, government orphanage, charitable foundation, attorney, facilitator, or some combination thereof).
Adoption Questions? Talk to an Attorney Before You Adopt
When it comes to children, one of the biggest challenges is planning for the future. There's simply no way to predict the costs of raising your children, especially as health care and education costs continue to rise. On the flip side, there's also no way to quantify the richness they can add to your life. What is a little easier to predict are the costs associated with adoption. Each state has its own established adoption process, so speak with a local family law attorney before you start the process.