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    How Much Does Adoption Really Cost?

    Dawn Davenport


    5443822570_25c9249aab_nOh, how I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone ask how much does it really cost to adopt a child. They want a short and sweet answer, and preferably an affordable answer. Unfortunately, there isn’t one answer because there isn’t just one type of adoption process. The average cost of adoption in the US is in the range of $30,000, but the actual cost depends on so many factors that an average is not all that helpful.

    How Much Does Domestic Infant Adoption Cost

    For private domestic infant adoption (birth mother relinquishment) you can adopt through an adoption agency or through an adoption lawyer. Adoption costs vary depending on birth mother expenses, including medical costs for the expectant woman, adoption agency/adoption attorney fees, travel, failed adoption matches, etc. The range for an adoption agency adoption is from $5,000 to $40,000+, with almost 60% falling within $10,000 – $30,000, and the average being around $28,000. Some adoption agencies have a sliding fee scale where adoption costs are based on your income.

    The adoption cost averages for an independent adoption with an adoption lawyer are just slightly less than with an adoption agency, but that is likely because their numbers includes adoptions where the birth mother and adoptive family have found each other, and the adoption lawyer is simply finalizing the adoption. Also, some adoption attorneys do not provide as much pre-adoption education or post-adoption support, thus costing a little less than an adoption through an adoption agency.

    How Much Does International Adoption Cost

    I hate to be wishy washy, but an average international adoption cost is truly worthless. You need to look at each individual country. The best way to do this is to go to the Adoption Country Charts at Creating a Family. The cost for adopting from abroad varies depending on the expense of airfare, how long you have to stay in country, and how much the country charges. The average cost for overseas adoption for the top three sending countries is:

    • China – The range of costs for adopting from China is $20,000 – $40,000, with the average being around $30,000.
    • Ethiopia – The range of costs for adopting from Ethiopia is $20,000 – $40,000, with the average being slightly less than $30,000.
    • South Korea – The range of cost for adopting from South Korea prior to mid 2013 was $20,000 – $40,000, with the average being slightly more than $30,000. Not enough families have adopted from South Korea since Korea began requiring families to spend a substantially longer period of time in the country. This will add substantially to the cost of adopting from Korea since living expenses in Seoul are high, to say nothing of the cost of lost wages.

    How Much Does Foster Care Adoption Cost

    I always say that adopting from foster care is virtually free. Very few families pay more than two thousands dollars and many pay nothing at all. The vast majority of families who adopt from foster care also receive a monthly subsidy to help defray the cost of raising their kids.

    Don’t Forget the Adoption Tax Credit

    The Adoption Tax Credit was made permanent in 2013, but is no longer refundable, which means that you have to earn enough to actually owe federal taxes in order to benefit from the Adoption Tax Credit. However, you can carry over the credit for five years, which gives you a total of six years to use the credit. The maximum adoption credit is $12,970 per child, and begins to phase out for families with incomes above $194,580. (Creating a Family has tons of resources on the Adoption Tax Credit.)

    Resources on the Cost of Adoption

    How much did your adoption cost?


    Image credit: Louish Pixel

    06/11/2013 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 18 Comments

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    18 Responses to How Much Does Adoption Really Cost?

    1. Pingback: A Pro Life Look at Arguments for Abortion 2 | scott link politics

    2. Hossam salem says:

      Very informative. i really needed that !

    3. Justine Craig says:

      What if you are adopting from a family member? My little sister is pregnant again and I offered to adopt this baby instead of her going through with an abortion. She has two kids now and can’t handle another financially.

      • Justine, you will need to contact an attorney that specializes in adoption to handle the legal aspects. I would also strongly recommend paying for your sister to see a therapist that understands the issues facing a women considering placing her child for adoption. This counseling is crucial to make sure she is truly ready for this decision. That helps her, of course, but it is also in the best interest of the child and you, as well. This type of adoption, where you already have identified the expectant mother, is usually less expensive–sometimes considerably less expensive.

    4. marcella dunham says:

      I would like to do froster care and i love kids

      • Marcella. Call your local child welfare agency in your county and ask when their next foster care parent education class begins. It is usually free or very low cost. Takes about 30-35 hours.

    5. Anonymous says:

      My daughter is giving away her son. And its killing her. I haven’t heard any. Of you me tion the mom carrying the baby. And helping her out is necessary too

      • Anonymous, I am so sorry for your pain. In my experience there are usually many factors involved with why a woman or couple decide to place their baby for adoption. Finances is usually (but not always) one of the factors. If you feel that money is the only factor or the main factor motivating your daughter please get her information on the social services that are available to help parents. She may qualify for several. Or perhaps you could volunteer to raise the child–either for the long term or even just for several years while she sorts out her life and finances.

        Adoption is a lifetime decision and no one should want a mother to make it without all the facts. Again, I am truly sorry for the agony this is causing you.

    6. Jill says:

      It is all over the map. And in international don’t forget that each agency has different costs too so one family may be several hundred cheaper but another agency will be more. Also in international if you have to stay out of city center because the orphanage is out of the center you have translator transportation costs, lodging, etc.

    7. Louise says:

      If anyone has questions about the China adoption process and estimated costs, would be glad to share our experiences. Three of our children are adopted from China and I now advocate, thru our family adoption blog, for those still waiting for a family to call their own.

    8. Robyn says:

      You forgot to put facilitators in the domestic infant adoption camp. When you use a facilitator, you have to add a lawyer, an agency, or both. I actually posted the break down of how much our children’s adoptions cost:

      Also, the ATC isn’t enough. Adoption should be tax deductible, just like medical expenses (for pregnancy and infertility) are.

      • Robyn, adoptions that used a facilitator were figured into the average, but you raise a good point that in addition to looking at the average, you have to look at what factors make an adoption vary significantly from the average. Facilitator costs are one factor, and other major factors are advertising costs for finding an expectant woman who might be considering adoption, living expenses for the expectant mother during and immediately after her pregnancy, and especially medical costs for the expectant woman and birth costs. Each state and each adoption agency and adoption lawyer differs on if these costs are allowed and how to handle them.

    9. Jocelyne says:

      Some states, such as Washington, are moving towards agency facilitated foster care adoptions. We had to pay $10,000 in agency fees plus fingerprints, and covered $1600 in dental bills not covered by the state because they could not decide if they wanted to cover the costs or not. The fees had to be paid in a six month period. The adoption stipend we get is $200/month. When you take in a foster child, there is no longer a clothing allowance, just the monthly foster stipend that begins to show up 2 months after the child is placed in your home. Granted the foster stipend is $575 it goes to clothes, food, school supplies and school fees. We adopted a teen during a year long growth spurt (over 4 inches in 12 months) so we visited Goodwill every 3 months.

    10. Jocelyne says:

      Dawn Davenport, we will find out with our 2013 taxes if we get any back. The fees were paid in 2012. We are having issues with his SS# that have to be straightened out before tax season. The SS# given to us by the state belongs to another person, so we need to apply for a new number; we just got the revised birth certificate since the finalization in August.

    11. marilynn says:

      should cost nothing

      • But Marilynn, if adoptions cost nothing who would provide the pre and post adoption education and support that we know are so important to adoptive families? Who would pay for the counseling to expectant women who need to think through all their options? Who would pay for the legal work to make sure that the adoption follows all the laws? Are you suggesting that all adoptions should be through foster care?

    12. Greg says:

      Even if adoptions went through Foster Care there are costs involved that are picked up by the tax payers. And we see that Foster Care has lots of funding issues to begin with. Nothing in life is free.

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