Adoption Budgeting: Why Is Adoption So Expensive?

When people start to talk about adoption and making decisions about building their family that way, one of the conversations that come to the forefront is the costs that come with adopting. Adoption costs and creating a budget are important facets of the process and is one that many people have questions about when they begin. As you start to build your adoption budget, take this information into consideration.


Typical Adoption Costs to Prepare for

The costs of adoption can differ depending on the type of adoption you’re pursuing and the agency or social services that you’re working with. But, there are some fees that are typical of any adoption. You will need a home study. According to American Adoptions, the fee for this can range anywhere from $900-$3,000 depending on your location and if you have to renew your study during the adoption process. You’ll also potentially have fees for the birth mother’s living and medical expenses based on your location. Finally, each adoption has legal fees from the lawyer at the court hearing to the paperwork that has to be processed. There can be additional fees depending on what type of an adoption you are pursuing. 

This article details more of a cost estimate for the adoption. 


Different Costs for Different Adoptions: Budget Accordingly

Domestic Adoption

If you’re pursuing a domestic adoption, the costs can vary. The American average to adopt is around $40,000 to $50,000 in any given year, but this can be cheaper or higher depending on your location, and how you choose to proceed. Many people choose an adoption agency to help them with their adoption. This tends to be full-service from filing paperwork, completing a home study, introductions to birth families, placement, and the final court hearing. Others choose to adopt independently. 

Agency Adoption Vs. Independent Adoption

An agency adoption is as mentioned before, more of a full-service scenario, and the costs can reflect that. Independent adoption, while notoriously less expensive, can be difficult for some. While some independent adoptions cost less than $10,000, adoptive parents have to seek out a birth family on their own and have no assistance from an agency. While this has its benefits, from having a close relationship with the birth family to saving fees, there can also be some difficulties including having difficult conversations without a liaison and the potential to be held responsible for coercion. If you choose to adopt independently, make sure to seek legal counsel early and ensure that it is legal in your state. Currently, you can’t seek independent adoption in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and North Dakota. 

FindLaw explains more about independent adoption here.

Adopting through the Foster Care System

Many foster parents choose to adopt through the foster care system. There are pros and cons to this as well. One of the pros is that the cost, on average, can be anywhere between $1,000 to $5,000 depending on many factors. There over 400,000 children in the foster care system who are in need of a home. Knowing that adopting an infant isn’t a given and that reunification is the goal of foster care can stop some people from pursuing foster care and foster adoption, but with all of the children in need of homes, it’s worth learning more about.

Read this for more information on adopting through the foster care system. 

International Adoption

International adoption is the most expensive depending on the country you are adopting from. This is because you’ll need to work with an agency with the skill sets needed to navigate multiple governments and requirements. As more children enter the foster care system and are in need of homes locally, international adoption has been happening less with American couples seeking to build their families through adoption. 

To learn more about international adoption, click here


Grants, Tax Credits, and Other Financial Support

Make sure to do a search about adoption grants in your area after you’ve found out the costs and set your adoption budget. is a wonderful not for profit that offers grants of up to $20,000 to offset the costs of adoption. The founders struggled with infertility and those costs before starting their own families through adoption and understand that the cost can be significant to many families and know that finances shouldn’t be a barrier to a family adopting. 

You should also check in with your employer, who may offer a stipend or some sort of financial support to adopting families. Others choose to host fundraisers and charity events to offset their adoption costs. (But remember that you do have to show a proof of income in the home study process and these funds raised aren’t a part of that process).

Also, stay up to date with the tax credit information surrounding adoption. This can be a benefit to many. 

Learn more about the adoption tax credit here. 

Creating an adoption budget can be tricky until you’ve made other decisions and as always have done your research about how you’ll be adopting, if you’ll be using a local agency, etc. Make sure to take detailed notes and look into other resources before draining your savings account. Though the cost can seem staggering to some at first, when you see where the fees go, you understand that these fees are needed to provide an ethical adoption, support birth families, and to ensure that the needs of a child are being met.