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How Much Does Adoption Cost?

Find information on the expenses involved in adopting a child.

How Much Does Adoption Cost?


If you are matched to a particular pregnant women who is planning adoption for her baby, some agencies (and most attorneys) may be willing to reduce their fees if the birthmother is on Medicaid or a private insurance plan—because that insurance will cover the prenatal care and the delivery of the child. This could lower your costs by thousands of dollars.

Ask the agency or attorney whether fees are changed in any way if the birthmother has private insurance or is on Medicaid.

Also, keep in mind that sometimes birthmothers choose to place their babies for adoption after the birth, when the child is a few months old or older. In that case, there should be no medical fees. Ask the agency or attorney what the fees are when that happens.

Adopting a healthy infant could cause you to incur costs of $25,000 to $30,000 or more, depending on the situation. It's very difficult, however, to give flat figures or averages because of variations in state laws, differences in agency and attorney policies, and a myriad of other factors.

Having said that, however, if I were pressed up against a wall and compelled by a manic wannabe adopter to state an average fee to adopt a child not in the state social services system—stand and deliver—I'd reluctantly say that average fees to adopt a healthy infant are about $20,000, whether U.S. or international.

In the case of an adoption through the state or county, there should be either no fees or minimal fees. (The adoption is often an older child adoption.) The costs of a public adoption are borne by the taxpayers. In fact, the federal government offers financial incentives to states to terminate the parental rights of parents in the case of children who have been in foster care for several years. In the past, many children entered foster care as small children, and they often stayed in foster care until they “aged out” at the age of 18. Finally, the federal government realized this was a bad plan for children and changed their policies, as did the states.

Adoption Alert

Some agencies charge on a sliding scale. That means that they tag the fees to your income, with a minimum and maximum fee. Thus, affluent people are charged at the uppermost levels, and less-affluent people pay fees on the lower end of the scale. Be sure to ask the agency whether they use the sliding-scale system.

If an adoption arranger gives you a flat fee on the expenses to adopt, ask what it includes! The fee could (but might not) cover these expenses:

  • Application fee (which may be several hundred dollars or more)
  • Lawyer's fees and court costs
  • Travel expenses, in the case of international adoption or the adoption of a child from another state
  • Home study fee (this could be several thousand dollars)
  • Living expenses for the birthmother, if legal in that state
  • Medical expenses of the birthmother, if legal in that state
  • Placement fee of the adoption agency, which could be $5,000 or more and is paid upon placement of the child)

A good agency or attorney will give you a breakdown of the approximate costs. Of course, expenses may change. For example, if the birthmother must have a C-section instead of a vaginal delivery, the surgery and hospital bills will be greater. Attorneys and agencies should give you a range of high to low and that includes most contingencies when birthmother expenses are involved. (Although no one can predict everything that might happen, experienced adoption arrangers should be able to give you a very good idea of the range, in most cases.)

Some agencies charge adopters flat rates, regardless of whether or not the birthmother has her own insurance.

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