“Why is Adoption So Expensive?”

by | Feb 8, 2024 | Adoptive Families Blog

Young couple admiring their newborn baby after changing his diaperAs you begin looking into adopting, you may wonder about the cost. It’s normal to have conflicted feelings and questions such as “why is adoption so expensive?”
In this article, I’ll help you understand how support and expenses contribute to the cost of adoption. But, of course, you can also call us at 727-493-0993 or request information here.
Our professional, experienced staff is always open about adoption costs. They’re happy to help you understand the steps and expenses necessary for an adoption.

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Why Isn’t Adoption Free?

“Why is adoption so expensive when all we want to do is help a child in need? Why isn’t adoption free?” Many couples have a similar reaction to this when they discover that there is a cost to adopt domestically. However, learning more about the costs often helps them understand who the fees go to and what they are for.
Adopting comes with a high cost for most couples, and considering these figures can cause an adverse reaction at first. However, it is important to remember that your adoption journey will have a life-long impact. At the end of the adoption process, you will meet your new baby and have a lifetime with them.
Something as important as adopting requires considerable support from attorneys, adoption agencies, social workers, counselors, and more. As you learn more about the adoption process in this article, you’ll see that it’s not something you want to cut corners on because adoption costs provide you support, help you carry out a legal process, get assistance from experts, and more.
If you’re wondering, “Why is adoption so expensive?”, legally adopting a baby requires the professional help of social workers, attorneys, physicians, government administrators, counselors, adoption coordinators, and more.
While adoption is typically emotional for both birth mothers and adoptive families, the adoption process is a legal procedure. Adoptions handled by fully licensed and accredited agencies such as Lifetime are held to higher ethical standards, resulting in more paperwork and higher costs.

How Much Does Private Adoption Cost?

We have a lot of people ask “Why does adoption cost so much?” The costs of a private adoption vary based on many factors. An adoption’s average cost can range from $30,000 to $60,000. These adoption expenses include:

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

While these adoption expenses are well worth it, how much it costs to adopt a child is 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.

State vs. Agency Adoption

There are often few charges in an adoption through the state, such as a waiting child or through foster care, but that does not mean the adoption is “free.” It means that the professionals who help you, such as social workers, attorneys, judges, and administrative professionals, are all paid by taxpayers.
In fact, it is estimated that state adoptions actually cost more than private or agency adoptions. And, all members of the adoption triad get fewer options. For example, adoptive parents have fewer preferences available, such as race or drug exposure. Likewise, birth mothers have fewer choices (if any) of the parents who adopt their child or their race, faith, or family structure. And the child may go into the available home, not necessarily the best home for them.
In addition, state adoption usually happens as many aspects of governmental services do – Monday thru Friday, from 9 to 5. Other adoption professionals typically work around the clock to ensure that the important work gets done when it needs to.
There are most definitely adoption fees for families who want more options. Here is a quick breakdown of some contributing costs of adoption:

Home Study Fees

In a home study, a social worker comes to your home, usually more than once, and conducts detailed interviews with you and everyone who lives with you.
This professional will need to gather background checks, financial records, medical histories, and much more to write a detailed report that certifies you as ready to adopt.
In addition, your home study social worker will pop back in a few times for post-placement visits after you are home to ensure all is going smoothly. The court requires these reports and make up the last bit of documentation before the adoption is finalized. The costs vary from state to state.

Agency Fees

Regardless of which type of adoption agency you sign on with, there will be fees to cover the services provided by these professionals and the agency’s basic operating costs.
An adoption agency such as Lifetime covers finding, educating, counseling, and screening potential birth mothers. Lifetime Adoption includes various other assistance, such as profile development, licensed third-party counseling, 24-hour availability, and more.
Your adoption agency is the professional who is the true heart of your adoption. They are close to birth mothers, working with them, talking to them, and helping them with their decision. Remember that for every birth mother that chooses adoption, 20 more receive services only to decide it’s not for them.

Legal Fees

You will need an attorney to ensure the adoption happens legally and safely. The birth parents will need to be informed of their rights and provide consent to the adoption. If there is more than one possible birth father, they all need to be addressed.
There are also court fees, document fees, and other administrative costs that are simply part of the adoption.

Travel Costs

In domestic infant adoption, waiting parents cannot predict when they will get “the call” to go meet the baby. Babies are born at all hours, and it’s important to be ready to travel when the opportunity to adopt comes calling.
If your baby’s birth mother lives outside your state, you’ll need to purchase a flight once she goes into labor. If she lives closer, you may be able to drive to her, depending on the timing of the situation.
Depending upon where your baby is born, you have a few lodging options. Most adoptive couples stay at a local hotel, Airbnb, or VRBO. Some are blessed to have a friend or family member who lives near the birth mother’s town.

Birth Mother Expenses

Depending on your preferences and the situation, you may have costs that you pay toward the birth mother’s needs. These adoption costs can vary because they depend on the birth mother’s unique needs and what is allowed per her state’s adoption laws.
Some of the costs associated with birth mother expenses can be for things like medical and living expenses for the birth mother. While Medicaid or insurance may cover some of the birth mother’s medical expenses, fees left over after the insurance company’s help are typically paid for by the adopting family. For example, you might help her with medical co-pays from her prenatal visits. Depending on the adoption laws in her state, she may also need help with living expenses for items like rent, food, and her phone bill.

How Can We Afford to Adopt?

Lifetime offers several payment options if you’re wondering how to afford adoption. We’ll share payment options that could suit your adoption needs upon becoming preapproved to adopt. We can also provide ideas for an affordable adoption, including fundraising and referrals for adoption loans and grants.
While adoption can be expensive, you can find peace of mind when working with Lifetime Adoption because we are here to serve you. To learn how expensive an adoption is with Lifetime Adoption, you can call 727-493-0993 to schedule a free consultation or click to get more information here.

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on July 14, 2016, 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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