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.

Information on the costs of the various types of adoption

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 typically about $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 usually 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.

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Creating a Family Resources on Domestic Adoption:


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 – The Median Adoption Service Provider Convention Adoption Fees are $15,725.00 (not including travel or documentation fees). Total ranges from $25,000 to $35,000 generally.
      • Ukraine – The average cost to adopt from Ukraine is about $35,000  (with a wide range of variance due to travel requirements).
      • Colombia – The Median Adoption Service Provider Convention Adoption Fees are $14,410.00 (not including travel or documentation fees). Total ranges from $35,000 to $40,000 (with a wide range of variance for travel requirements and sibling group adoptions).

How Much Does Foster Care Adoption Cost?

I always say that adopting from foster care is virtually free. Very few families pay more than $5,000 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.

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Creating A Family Resources for Foster Care Adoption:


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 Adoption Tax Credit for 2019 is $14,080 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.

SO, how much did your adoption cost?

Updated 9/16/20