why isn't adoption free?It seems like adoption is so expensive, almost like it is buying a baby. Why does it have to cost so much when all we want to do is help a child in need?”

Many families have a similar reaction when they discover that there is a cost to private adoption.  Learning more about the costs often help families understand who the fees go to and what they are for. Today, Lifetime is giving you a quick rundown to help understand adoption costs!

State vs. Private or Agency Adoption

In an adoption through the state, such as a waiting child or through foster care, there are often few charges – 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 actually get fewer options.  Adoptive parents have fewer preferences available, such as race or drug exposure. Birth mothers have fewer choices (if any) in regards to 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 him or her.

In addition, state adoption usually happens like many aspects of governmental services – 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 get done, not just during business hours.

There are most definitely fees to adoption for families who want more options, and these are usually made up of:

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. He or she has to gather background checks, financial records, medical histories, and much more to write a detailed report that certifies you as ready to adopt.  The costs vary from state to state. 

Agency and/or Facilitator Fees


These usually cover finding, educating, counseling, and screening potential birth mothers. Different organizations may include a wide variety of other assistance, such as profile development, licensed third-party counseling, 24-hour availability, and more. But this 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 decide if adoption is the right choice for their baby or child. Keep in mind that for every ONE birth mother that chooses adoption, 15 or 20 more receive services only to decide it’s not for them.

Legal Fees

You will need an attorney or two to make the legal aspect all work out.  The birth parents will need to be informed and consent to the adoption. If there is more than one possible birth father, then 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

You need to travel to get your baby or child. This is a time that is so precious, that you get to spend with the birth parents possibly, enjoy a true hospital experience, and have the time to bond, away from family and friends who will be ready to welcome you home.

Post-Placement Visits

Your home study social worker will pop back in a few times after you are home, to ensure all is going smoothly. These reports are required by the court and make up the last bit of documentation before the adoption is finalized.  It’s also a great opportunity for questions or referrals, from someone who is very familiar with your local area.

So is private or agency adoption buying a baby?

No, absolutely not! You are paying professionals, similarly to the ones you may have paid for infertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization.  Adoption requires many moving parts and people to make it work. From the coordinator who answers questions from a potential birth mother in the middle of the night, to an attorney who travels to take birth mother signatures on Christmas Eve, adoption professionals are dedicated professionals who go the extra mile to make sure the family you are building is taken care of in every way.

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


Pin It on Pinterest