The Costs of Adopting: A Factsheet for Families

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This fact sheet provides cost estimates for domestic and intercountry adoptions. Agency fees, legal fees, home study expenses, and foreign country expenses are considered. The factsheet also includes information about adoption benefits, such as Federal tax credits, state tax credits, subsidies, and adoption loans and grants. A brief list of additional resources is provided.


Prospective adoptive parents may be concerned about the financial costs of adopting an infant or child and their ability to meet these costs. While becoming a parent is rarely free of expenses (even pregnancy and childbirth can be relatively expensive if there is inadequate insurance), adoptive parents often are faced with initial costs that can seem challenging. However, with planning and with knowledge about the different types of adoptions and available resources, they should be able to develop a budget that includes most of the foreseeable expenses. This factsheet was designed to help prospective adoptive parents learn about these expenses so that they can make informed decisions throughout the adoption process.

The total cost of adopting varies from $0 to more than $40,000, depending on a number of factors. The chart below outlines some general categories of adoption and costs associated with the services provided. The wide range reflects the multitude of factors that may affect costs, including the type of adoption, the type of placement agency or facilitator, and the child's age and circumstances. Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to check with the agencies they are considering to find out more about specific costs for their circumstances.

Range of Adoption Costs

Foster Care Adoptions$0 - $2,500
Licensed Private Agency Adoptions$5,000 - $40,000+
Independent Adoptions$8,000 - $40,000+
Facilitated/Unlicensed Adoptions$5,000 - $40,000+
Intercountry Adoptions$7,000 - $30,000

While the overall figures may seem daunting, prospective adoptive parents should explore all adoption options and the associated costs for each. In some cases, the total cost may be much less than the maximum figures cited here; resources may also be available to help offset costs. These are discussed at the end of this factsheet.

Breaking down the total cost into categorized expenses helps prospective parents understand what is involved and how to determine a predictable range for their costs. In some cases, understanding the costs associated with different types of adoption may help parents decide which type of adoption to pursue, or whether to pursue this approach to building a family.

This factsheet can help by outlining and discussing the following categories of expenses:

  • Universal expenses, that is, those that occur for every type of adoption, including home study expenses and court costs.

  • Adoption-specificexpenses, that is, those that are associated with a particular type ofadoption, including foster care adoptions, domestic infant adoptions,and intercountry (i.e., foreign or international) adoptions.

All adoptive parents pay some combination of universal and adoption-specific expenses. Child Welfare Information Gateway offers a factsheet for parents, Adoption Options, that describes the different types of adoptions.

Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway

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