How Much Does Adoption Really Cost?

How Much Does It REALLY Cost to Adopt?


how much does it cost to adopt an infant


How much does it cost to adopt? We get this question more than most, so don’t be embarrassed if you’re asking it, too. The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. Today, adoptive families are as diverse as others.  So let’s talk about the bottom line: how much does it REALLY cost to adopt?

The Type of Adoption You Choose Will Determine How Much You Pay

When you decide to grow your family through adoption, you have to decide what kind of adoption is right for you.  There are several different kinds of adoption to pursue.  You can choose domestic infant adoption, which connects adoptive families with infants born in the United States.  You can pursue a foster-to-adopt program through your local Department of Social Services, which helps families interested in adopting children living in foster care.  Or, you can choose to adopt internationally.  All of these choices are different, and costs related to each will vary.

Domestic Infant Adoption

The average cost of a domestic infant adoption in 2016 was about $28,000.  The cost of domestic infant adoption will vary depending on many factors unique to your adoption and family situation, including things like whether you choose to pay for birthparent expenses, whether you elect to work with a licensed non-profit adoption agency or an adoption facilitator, and how far you need to travel during your adoption journey.  The cost of your adoption should include your home study and most of your legal fees, but this might vary as well.

Adoptions Together charges fees for domestic infant placements on a sliding scale based on your family’s income.  To learn more about the cost of adopting an infant, click here.

Foster Care Adoption

Foster care adoption connects children living in public foster care systems with families hoping to expand through adoption.  There are two ways to adopt from foster care: by pursuing foster-to-adopt services through a local Department of Social Services (DSS), or by working directly with a licensed agency that provides foster care adoption services. In each case, the cost will vary. For families that choose to pursue foster-to-adopt services through a local DSS, most adoption-related costs will be covered by the jurisdiction the adoptive child lives in.  This makes foster-to-adopt one of the most cost-effective means of pursuing adoption.  If a family wishes to pursue foster care adoption while working with a licensed, private agency, many costs will be underwritten by local jurisdictions, but some fees must be paid by the adoptive family.

Some families choose to pursue foster-to-adopt because of the cost benefits, however, children living in foster-to-adopt scenarios are often still working with courts to be reunified with their families of origin and the process to adopt a child through foster-to-adopt programs can be long and emotional.  Some families find that working with a private agency to pursue foster care adoption is more direct, despite the slightly increased costs.

You can learn more about the cost of foster care adoption here.

International Adoption

The cost of international adoption varies widely by country, and is the most expensive type of adoption for families. Once considered the most convenient type of adoption by timeline, international adoption has become more complex in recent years. Today, international adoptions can cost as much as $40,000.  If you are interested in pursuing an international adoption, it is important to work with an agency that is Hague Accredited and one that can connect you with a Primary Provider to serve as your representative in the country from which you hope to adopt.

To learn more about international adoption, click here.

The Adoption Tax Credit

The Adoption Tax Credit is a federal tax credit for families who adopt a child or children.  It is designed to offset adoption costs in the form of a tax credit.  The current credit is $13,810 per child adopted in 2018.  To learn more about the Adoption Tax Credit and whether you qualify, head to the IRS website.

Working with an Agency vs. Facilitator

Once you’ve done some research about the cost of adopting, it’s time to make some important decisions about who to work with.  A licensed adoption agency is legally required to provide services outlined by the state you live in, and reports to multiple bureaus to maintain accreditation.  While many adoption facilitators provide quality services to families hoping to grow through adoption, they are not bound by the same licensing guidelines.  As a licensed adoption agency, we highly recommend researching the licensed agencies in your area to make an informed decision about this major decision before you begin to grow your family.  An adoption agency should respond to your needs, make you feel safe, and provide lifelong support to you as your family expands.

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