The Cost of Child Adoption

Adopting a child is a major life decision that should never be made lightly.  Mostly you’ll need to base your decision on the emotional and ethical matters involved with taking on this huge, but potentially very rewarding responsibility.  But it’s also important to take into account the costs you will incur by adopting a child.

The main costs will be those associated with raising a child in general, whether adopted or not.  That is, you’ll have another mouth to feed, clothes to buy, medical costs, vacation expenses, an allowance, hopefully one day college, and on and on.

But there are also costs that are specific to adoption, and they can run more than probably most people expect.

Here are the general types of adoption and the range of expenses adoptive parents typically incur:

Foster care adoptions:  $0-$2,500

Private agency adoptions:  $5,000-$40,000

Independent adoptions:  $8,000-$40,000

International adoptions:  $7,000-$30,000

Foster care adoptions tend to be much less because the government picks up a lot of the cost.  Children in the foster care system are special needs children, often older children, much harder to find adoptive families for.  So the government keeps the costs down to provide an incentive.

You might wonder why adoptions can be so expensive, but there are a lot of labor and other costs involved in adopting a child.

As prospective adoptive parents, you need to be thoroughly screened.  For that purpose, you need to provide such items as criminal background checks, health physicals, and sometimes psychiatric examinations, all of which cost money.  Most importantly you have to pay a social worker to assess you and your home through multiple visits and interviews, as well as to follow up with you and provide further guidance after a child is indeed placed in your home.

There are court costs along the way to make the adoption legally final, and almost everyone sees fit to hire an attorney to make sure the legal process goes smoothly.  Needless to say, even if the adoption is a simple, uncontested one where the attorney seemingly does very little, attorney fees are likely to be substantial.

You also will often end up paying thousands of dollars of the birth mother’s expenses in exchange for being allowed to adopt her child.  This could include anything from the medical costs when she gives birth, to her rent and living expenses for a certain period of time.

If you choose an international adoption, there are various additional expenses.  Sometimes, for example, you are required to go to the country in person one or more times, and you can imagine how expensive that can be.

In short, unless you’re willing to adopt through the foster care system, expect to pay thousands or tens of thousands of dollars when you adopt a child.

People don’t like having to pay all that money of course, but if it’s in their heart to adopt, they pay it.  And you’d be hard pressed to find any later who say, “You know, I wish I hadn’t paid so much to adopt my child.  It turned out not to be worth it.”


“The Costs of Adopting: A Factsheet for Families.”

“Learn About Adoption Costs and Fees.”