How Expensive is Adoption?

by | Mar 31, 2021 | Adoptive Families Blog

Hopeful adoptive parents researching online how expensive is adoption Every hopeful adoptive parent wonders about the cost to adopt. Most realize that adoption can be expensive, but they aren’t sure what that looks like. It’s normal if you are worried about how much it costs to adopt a child.
Depending upon the type of adoption you choose, the agency you work with, and the age of the child you want, the adoption costs will vary. So, how expensive is adoption?

Domestic Adoptions

Domestic adoption means adopting a baby who was born in the United States. If you use a private agency to help you walk through the adoption process, it can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $45,000, according to the Child Welfare Information of Gateway of Children’s Bureau. At first, the cost of domestic adoption may seem high. Yet surprisingly, it’s less expensive compared to other ways to grow your family, such as infertility treatments, IVF, or surrogacy.
The cost of a domestic adoption varies, but generally, it includes:

  • An agency’s help to create your profile and website
  • Birth mother outreach involves doctors, hospitals, camps, churches, or counselors
  • 24-hour support for birth mothers
  • Your home study
  • Communication with the hospital
  • Court and legal fees
  • Birth mother medical and legal expenses
  • Birth mother pre-adoption and post-adoption counseling
  • Living expenses for the birth mother
  • Adoptive parent education
  • Travel fees
  • Social worker services
  • Post-placement assessment

Be sure to ask the adoption agency for a written description of all the fees and what will be covered during the adoption.
Lifetime Adoption provides payment options. Once you’re pre-approved to adopt, our adoption professionals will explain how these options could help you pay for the various adoption fees. They can also explain available options such as fundraising, referrals for adoptions, grants, and loans you may want to use.

International Adoptions

International adoptions involve adopting a child born overseas. According to, the cost range for an international adoption is $20,000 to $60,000. International adoptions have their own unique costs besides the regular adoption fees listed above. The extra expenses include:

  • Multiple trips to the country you’re adopting a child from, including airplane and hotel fees, car rentals, etc. You could be traveling to this country two to three times.
  • Dossier authentication
  • Passport fees

Besides the costs, working with an international country can be unpredictable. Some countries change their adoption policies without much notice, so you may be in the middle of adoption only to have it fall through at the last minute. This can be terribly disappointing and expensive. To find a detailed list of the countries that U.S. citizens can adopt from, visit Travel.State.Gov.

Foster Care Adoptions

Another type of adoption is adopting a child in foster care. This type of adoption is often free depending upon the state you’re adopting in. The state may reimburse the adoptive parents to pay for the home study and legal fees.
If you are fostering a child, you may have the option to adopt, but typically foster care’s first goal is to unite the child back into their family. Once a parent’s rights are terminated, the foster care system is usually looking for adoptive families. The biggest needs are usually for kids over 12 years of age.

How can we afford adoption?

Young couple working on their finances in living roomWhen you initially hear the answer to “How expensive is adoption?, the cost may seem high. Yet surprisingly, it’s less expensive compared to other ways to grow your family, such as infertility treatments, IVF, or surrogacy. Plus, adoption means you’re bringing a child into your family that may not otherwise have that chance. It’s giving a child a future.
If you’re wondering how to pay for an adoption, consider these possible ways to help you.

Adoption Tax Credit

Once you adopt, you can claim your adoption on your taxes for a credit, which gives you money back in the year when you finalized your adoption.
Most types of adoptions are covered with tax credits. Whether you adopt a child from foster care, a domestic adoption agency, or an international adoption agency, you are eligible to receive the credit. If you opt for a special needs adoption, you automatically qualify for the maximum allowed credit, no matter what you spent out of pocket for the adoption.

Employer-Provided Adoption Benefits

An employer-sponsored adoption benefits plan gives employees financial assistance for their adoption or reimburses them for adoption-related expenses. Plus, it provides for paid or unpaid leave for the adoptive parent. (source: A company may pay anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000.

Adoption Grants and Loans

Many average-income families can adopt a baby with an affordable adoption if they take advantage of the adoption grants and loans available.
Loan programs geared toward adoption are another adoption funding alternative. Loan terms allow adoptive parents to repay the loan over time. A line of credit can be even better, as you only borrow when you need it.
Loans are a great idea if you do not have a large amount of money on hand to fund an adoption, and payments would make adoption affordable and allow you to get started faster. Top lenders like LightStream currently offer adoption loans of up to $100,000.
Most adoption grants range from $2,000 to $5,000 but can go much higher if you fit the requirements. Often, these grants are needs-based. Some are faith-based. Visit Lifetime’s Adoption Financing page to find a list of available adoption grants.

You Can Afford Adoption

If you are concerned about how much it costs to adopt, know that with a little planning and research, the average family can find the money to bring the light of love into their home by adopting a child.
There are so many children out there that need the warm and secure home you have to offer; why not take advantage of every funding alternative available to you? Completing your family circle with adoption will soon be more than just a dream!

Heather Featherston

Written by Heather Featherston

As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.

Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.

As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.

Read more about Heather Featherston


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