How Much It Costs to Adopt a Child, According to Experts

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Adoption is a beautiful way to grow a family. With more than 113,000 children eligible for adoption in the United States, it’s an avenue many hopeful parents investigate. There are five typical ways to begin the journey, and each one includes different adoption costs that hopeful parents need to be aware of.

When asking how much it costs to adopt a child, first you should be aware of the five typical avenues for adoption in the United States: adopting a relative, adopting a stepchild, international adoption, domestic adoption, and foster adoption. While legal fees are involved in each of the five adoption pathways, the average cost of adoption is much higher for these three types of adoption:

  1. International adoption: adopting a child from another country, typically from its foster-care system
  2. Domestic adoption: adopting a child from the United States, facilitated by an adoption agency
  3. Foster adoption: adopting a child from the foster-care system in the United States

The fees that come with the adoption process can vary greatly depending on the type of adoption and in situations where additional advocacy may be necessary, Jodi Miyama, LMSW, senior executive of international adoption at Holt International, tells POPSUGAR. Here’s what you need to know.

How Much Does International Adoption Cost?

“Average fees can range between USD$25,000 and USD$60,000” for international adoption, Miyama explains. “The fees cover home-study fees, parent training, agency fees (staffing, licensing, accreditation, operational costs), United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), translation or document fees, and often sending country fees and travel.”

International adoption costs may also include additional fees, depending on the country. “Many countries have government or overseas country fees, legal or attorney fees, and in-country fees,” Miyama shares.

“This could cover care of child, social worker, or child registration expenses. There is great variability between countries due to whether the sending country has specific fees as well as the length of time a family travels and remains in country,” she says.

How Much Does Domestic Adoption Cost?

According to Ryan Hanlon, president and CEO of the National Council For Adoption, the fees for a domestic adoption “can range quite widely depending upon a number of factors,” he tells POPSUGAR. “In general, families pursuing a private domestic adoption should expect to pay between USD$35,000 and USD$50,000.”

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway from the US Department of Health and Human Services, the cost can cover home studies, legal fees, court fees, medical fees, and preadoption and postadoption counseling.

How Much Does Foster Adoption Cost?

The fees for families pursuing adoption through the child welfare system are substantially smaller in most situations and can range from $0 to USD$3,000. However, adoption costs vary by state.

“Most adoptions from foster care have no or extremely low costs,” Hanlon explains. “There are some situations in which parents may incur fees associated with legal aspects of the adoption case.”

The Child Welfare Information Gateway from the US Department of Health and Human Services states that some children in the child welfare system may qualify for additional support, which can help reduce costs.

“The Federal Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 established a program of financial and medical assistance to help promote adoptions from foster care, reduce financial barriers to adoption, and help adoptive families meet their adopted children’s emotional, physical, and mental health needs,” the report reads.

Are There Ever Unexpected Adoption Fees?

Working with a reputable adoption agency should help reduce unexpected adoption fees, Miyama explains.

“When considering adoption, it is important to work with adoption professionals who are licensed. This ensures that a child-centered, ethical adoption occurs,” she notes. “Adoption professionals will provide transparency in fees. Sometimes more experienced professionals provide guidance and advice that will prevent delays and reduce expenses.”

Is Financial Help Available to Cover Adoption Fees?

Families hoping to adopt but concerned about covering the fees have a few avenues to get past that hurdle.

“There are generous adoption grant-making organizations, an adoption tax credit, low-interest adoption loans, and more to help families ensure that cost is not a barrier,” Hanlon shares. “There are a lot of good, supportive adoption resources organizations you can partner with, who work to ensure costs aren’t a barrier.”

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