Intercountry Adoption Costs

Many people considering adoption find international adoption to be an attractive option because it's generally faster and sometimes less expensive than adopting within the United States. Adopting a child from another country can still be quite expensive, especially when you factor in the costs associated with travel to a foreign country and agency fees. And just as with other immigrant visa requirements, international or "intercountry" adoption also incurs certain legal and administrative fees.

The following is an overview of intercountry adoption costs you're likely to encounter if you're considering international adoption.

Intercountry Adoption Costs: Agency Fees

There are many different adoption agencies that provide international adoption services, with fees mostly in the $15,000 to $20,000 range (according to a 2015 report), plus the cost of travel. 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). Many intercountry adoption agencies offer a sliding fee scale.

Depending on the country, there may be additional fees, such as:

  • Child foster care (usually in South and Central American adoptions);
  • Parents' travel and in-country stay(s) to process the adoption abroad;
  • Escorting fees, charged when parents do not travel but instead hire escorts to accompany the child on the flight;
  • Child's medical care and treatment (occasionally in South and Central America);
  • Translation fees;
  • Foreign attorney fees;
  • Foreign agency fees;
  • Passport fees; and
  • Visa processing fees and costs of visa medical examination.

Parental Leave and Financial Assistance

Taking time away from work to adopt a child from another country could be considered a "hidden" cost of interncountry adoption, depending on your employment situation. Employers with more than 50 employees are required under the Family and Medical Leave Act to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newly adopted child.

Some employers also offer adoption benefits, including lump sums ranging from $500 to $25,300 but averaging $8,000 and five weeks of paid leave. If your employer offers such benefits, make sure you determine whether they're paid after the adoption is finalized or earlier in the process.

Finalizing International Adoptions in U.S. Court

Some intercountry adoptions must be finalized in a court in the United States, while others 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. (Again, these costs may be reimbursable.) In some jurisdictions an adoption can be finalized without representation by an attorney.

How Much Does Intercountry Adoption Cost? Ask an Attorney

Intercountry adoption can be complicating and daunting -- not to mention the associated costs -- whether it's properly completing the ocean of paperwork involved or navigating the procedures of an adoption. An adoption attorney can help with this, ensuring that your legal rights (and the rights of your child) are properly established and secured.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified attorney specializing in adoptions.

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