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 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
- Cost of Adoption in the US
- Adoption Country Charts
- Child Welfare Information Gateway
- The Adoption Guide
How much did your adoption cost?
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