How Much Does Adoption Really Cost?
Oh, 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 average cost to adopt from an adoption agency adoption is around $43,000. Some adoption agencies have a sliding fee scale where adoption costs are based on your income.
An independent adoption through an adoption attorney costs an average of $38,000. It is likely that this costs less than working with an agency because their average numbers include 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 the cost is a little less than an adoption through an adoption agency.
Creating a Family Resources on Domestic Adoption:
- Ten Tips for Choosing a Domestic Adoption Agency
- What do Expectant Moms Look for in Adoptive Parents
How Much Does International Adoption Cost?
I hate to be wishy-washy but quoting 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 of 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 – Adopting from China costs an average of $36,000.
- Ukraine – The average cost for adopting from Ukraine is $35,000 (with a wide range of variance due to travel requirements).
- South Korea – The average cost to adopt from South Korea is $48,000.
How Much Does Foster Care Adoption Cost?
I always say that adopting from foster care is virtually free. Very few families pay more than $2,000 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.
Creating A Family Resources for Foster Care Adoption:
- Dr. Karyn Purvis: 6 Crucial Things Every Adoptive Parent Must Do
- Helping Kids Transition from Foster Care to Adoption (FE)
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 $13,810 (in 2018) per child. It will not cover self-employment tax, early pension distribution penalty, or first-time homebuyer payback.
Creating a Family has a wide variety of helpful resources for the adoption tax credit at our Adoption Tax Credit Headquarters.