The Real Cost of Adopting a Baby


You're ready to adopt. But how much will the process cost? It all depends on the type of adoption you choose, with the price tag for adoption services varying widely.

"There are so many variables," said Jennifer Fairfax, an adoption attorney based in Silver Spring, Maryland. "It all depends on what type of adoption you want and the individual factors in each case. You might spend absolutely nothing on an adoption or $50,000. It just depends on each individual case."

To help you get started, here are some basic points to take into consideration.

Foster Care

If you want to adopt a child who is already in this country's foster care system, you will pay almost nothing for adoption services, said Gloria Hochman, director of communications with the Philadelphia-based National Adoption Center.

The agencies that have custody of these children are eager to place them in permanent families, Hochman said. These children do, though, often come with challenges.

"These children are often eight-years-old or older, and many are teens. Some have emotional challenges," Hochman says. "If you are 14, you've lived in five foster homes, and you can't live with your birth parents, you are bound to have emotional challenges." According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in 2014 about 400,000 children were in foster care, 100,000 of whom were considered "waiting for adoption.".

Adopting a Baby: At Home or Abroad?

If you want to adopt a baby in the U.S., often you can expect to pay from $20,000 to $50,000 working with an agency, Hochman said.

"There is a shortage of adoptable babies in this country," Hochman says. "The use of birth control has been a factor. [Also] more women who are having babies who once would have put them up for adoption are deciding to keep them, whether or not they are married." The Department of Health and Human Services reports that 50,000 U.S. children are adopted every year, a number that has been steady for about a decade.

If you want to complete an international adoption, you can expect to pay from $25,000 to $50,000. The U.S. State Department reports that Americans adopted 7,000 children from abroad in 2013. As Hochman notes, adopting a baby from a foreign country often requires that parents visit that country one or more times. Parents also have to pay naturalization and immigration fees on top of fees charged by an adoption agency.

These are just basic costs. Kevin Kenney, an attorney and adoption specialist in Prairie Village, Kansas, said that a host of other variables can either increase or decrease the costs of adoption. You might run into a birth father who contests the adoption — that can boost your costs. Your adoption costs might be higher if you live in New York City, and lower if you live in Kansas City.

Financial Assistance

There is financial assistance available for parents to help them meet the costs of closing an adoption. Some employers reimburse a portion of their workers' adoption costs, and many organizations provide adoption grants and low-interest loans to help ease the financial stress these parents might face. You can find a list of these organizations at Resources4Adoption.

Parents can also take advantage of the federal adoption tax credit. This credit is $13,190 as of 2015, and covers what the IRS calls "reasonable and necessary" adoption fees, everything from court costs and attorney fees, to travel expenses and agency fees.

Some states also offer adoption tax credits, though not all. Check with your state to see what is available.

Have you adopted a child — or are you considering adoption? What have you learned about the costs?

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