How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child?

by | Mar 6, 2024 | Adoptive Families Blog

Adoptive parents with their newborn baby boy on the bedPeople often ask, “How much does it cost to adopt a child?” Adoption can give you the family you’ve always dreamed of having. It can be the most incredible journey and joy of your life and give you the greatest of blessings: a child of your own.
Many families would love to experience this joy and blessing for themselves; however, they are worried about the cost of adoption. The costs of a private adoption vary and are based on many different factors, but there are always expenses. And while these expenses are well worth it, the fact remains that cost is a very real concern for most families. How much does it cost to adopt a child?

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child?

The costs of a private adoption vary and are based on many different factors. The average cost of an adoption can range anywhere from $5,000 to $70,000. These adoption expenses include:

  • Home study
  • Birth mother’s medical expenses
  • Legal fees
  • Court fees
  • Adoption attorney fees
  • Adoption agency fee
  • Birth mother’s living expenses
  • Other expenses

While these adoption expenses are well worth it, how much it costs to adopt a child is real and a big concern for most families. Thankfully, there are things you can do to both increase your own personal budget, as well as ways to cover your adoption expenses.

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1. Set a Family Budget

Keep track of your expenses for three months. Determine what costs you can cut or reduce, then do it. Even seemingly minor cuts and reductions add up quickly. You can save money by:

  • Eating at home instead of dining out
  • Use coupons or cash back plans for things you buy
  • Cancel your unused subscriptions
  • Reduce household living expenses
  • Consolidate your debt
  • Switch to cash only
  • Lower your TV and phone bill through special offers or discounts companies offer to new customers

2. Set an Adoption Budget

Do some research into the cost of adopting. Take notes on the varying types of adoption and their costs. Determine what a realistic figure is. A good place to start is the Lifetime website, which details many of the items you should include in your budget.

3. Explore Financial Assistance

Adoption financing is available to help with the cost of adoption for almost all families. And in some circumstances, Lifetime Adoption provides adoption grants for families to help with adoption expenses in order to find loving homes for children. There are many other grant programs as well, such as:

  • Loans
  • Government subsidies
  • Tax credits
  • Military adoption benefits
  • Employer assistance programs
  • Adoption grants
  • State financial adoption financial assistance

4. Adoption Subsidy

If you’re planning to adopt a child with special needs, you might be eligible for an adoption subsidy to offset the cost of adoption expenses and long-term care of your child. An adoption subsidy ensures the costs of caring for your special needs child aren’t a burden for you as adoptive parents. In short, an adoption subsidy serves as a crucial support in ensuring a stable and permanent home for an adopted child.
These subsidies are generally available to children who are adopted from foster care, as well as those with special needs who are adopted privately. The benefits typically extend until the child reaches adulthood, providing a significant level of financial and emotional support.
Many wonder who is eligible for an adoption subsidy. According to the National Council for Adoption (NCFA), “Eligibility for adoption subsidies is based on specific criteria, not on type of adoption. While there are small differences between the states, the biggest components of eligibility determination are the same nationwide.”
To have a better understanding of the benefits and entitlements available for the child you want to adopt, research the benefits specific to your state and county. Since there is significant variability in benefits between different places, reach out to other adoptive parents in your area and connect with advocates for your state. Other adoptive parents can be a valuable resource as they have already gone through the process and utilized many of the available services.
Talk to an adoption professional or a social worker to learn about how much it costs to adopt a child with special needs and the possibility you have to receive an adoption subsidy from the government.

5. Employer-Sponsored 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.
The best way to learn about employer adoption benefits in your workplace is to speak with somebody in Human Resources. You may discover that your workplace has more benefits than you initially thought. These benefits can make adoption much more manageable for a family with limited resources!

6. Crowdfunding

With today’s crowdfunding websites, many adoptive families have gotten creative in raising funds for their adoption expenses. In fact, crowdfunding has been termed “the future of adoption” because it provides wide avenues for seeking funding assistance, enabling more parents than ever to pursue adoption.
Crowdfunding (or peer-to-peer fundraising) is done by asking for contributions from a large group of people, such as your friends, neighbors, family members, co-workers, or your online community. You don’t have to be incredibly tech-savvy to use this tool.
Websites such as Kickstarter will walk you through the process quickly and easily. You can set up an individual, personalized website to share with family, friends, and online supporters.
Adoptive families also use GoFundMe to raise money for their adoption expenses. This method can generate a good income for prospective adoptive families.
Be careful you don’t share personal details about your child’s life. For instance, it’s not wise to ask for financial aid for adoption expenses based on trauma or loss the child has experienced.
Before jumping on a crowdfunding platform, think about how you will express your needs. What shouldn’t you share on crowdfunding sites? Here are a few items not to share:

  • The adoption agency you’re working with
  • Addresses
  • Your child’s names
  • Birth parent’s names
  • Hospital where your child will be born
  • Dates of birth

7. Adoption Loans

How much does it cost to adopt a child? Enough money that you may want to take out a loan.
Adoption loans have grown in popularity as a way to offset the cost of adopting. Even if you’re in a good place financially, you may still want to borrow money to pay for your adoption expenses. You may wish to pursue different types of loans to afford your adoption. This article shares how you can do that: How to Use a Loan to Pay for your Adoption Expenses.

8. Adoption Tax Credit

Whether you’re just starting to look into adoption, are waiting to adopt, or have recently adopted, it’s wise to learn about the Adoption Tax Credit. That way, after your adoption is finalized, you’ll be able to make the most of the tax credit!
Taxpayers who adopted or began the adoption process in 2023 can qualify for the adoption credit. The maximum adoption credit that adoptive parents can claim on their 2023 tax return is $15,950 per eligible child.
You have up to 5 years to use the full tax credit. It’s a non-refundable credit. Talk with your tax professional before applying because there are some qualifications you must meet to be eligible for the Adoption Tax Credit.

How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Child?

Adoption is not without cost, but it does not have to be unaffordable. There are now more ways than ever to fund your adoption efforts and begin building the family you’ve always hoped for.
Many hopeful adoptive parents seek financial assistance and hold fundraisers to help defray their adoption fees. And there are countless ways to contribute to your adoption fund, including adoption loans, the adoption tax credit, crowdfunding, employer-sponsored adoption benefits, and the adoption subsidy.
It will take some creativity and determination on your part, but you can do it. Whether you choose to set up a crowdfunding site, take out a loan or get financial help from your employer, it’s possible to pay for your adoption costs so you can bring home your sweet child to your family.

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If you’re interested in adoption and want to talk about how to get started, please get in touch with Lifetime Adoption. We have years of experience helping hopeful parents add a sweet child to their family.
Our adoption professionals are ready to answer the question, “How much does it cost to adopt a child?”, and any other questions you may have related to adoption expenses.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on October 27, 2014, and has since been updated. 

Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Written by Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).

Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.

“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!

Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.

I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.

It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”

Read More About Mardie Caldwell

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