How much does it cost to adopt a child? | Smart Change: Personal Finance
Bringing a child into your family is an emotionally and financially important decision. The process can be lengthy and cost anywhere from less than $1,000 to over $50,000. Here’s a breakdown of the different ways you can grow your family through adoption – and how much you can expect to spend.
How much does accreditation cost?
The cost of adoption depends on the type of adoption you are seeking. As you think about how you might want to move forward, keep in mind that there are several ways to pay for adoption, from fundraising and grants to personal loans.
General Agency Accreditation
How it works: Adopting children through the public welfare system often means starting out as a foster parent. Each state has its own agency, which oversees licensing, education, employment, and support for adoptive families.
How much does it cost: Foster adoption is a low-cost option for parents. The Child Care Information Portal, a service provided by the Children’s Bureau of the Federal Bureau of Administration for Children and Families, describes foster care as “virtually free.” The majority of surrogate adoptions cost less than $1,000, according to the Journal of Adoptive Families’ most recent adoption cost survey conducted in 2016-2017.
This route to adoption is inexpensive due to state and federal adoption assistance programs designed to make it easier and more attractive to adopt children who are in foster care. These children are often older and may be traumatized or have special needs.
Helpful resource: The Children’s Bureau offers a state-by-state guide to help with adoption.
How it works: Parents can work with an adoption agency or attorney to find and adopt children in the United States. In general, the process of adopting a child is similar whether you work through a private agency or independently with the help of a lawyer. It involves home study, placement, advice, training, and legal documentation.
How much does it cost: The cost of private adoption varies. By working with an agency, you can expect to spend between $30,000 and $60,000, according to the Child Care Information Portal. It’s slightly less expensive to pursue an independent adoption, which includes working with an attorney. The cost of this process ranges from $25,000 to $45,000. Newborns are more likely to be involved in private adoptions. This means that in addition to paying for the adoption process, you will also cover medical and other expenses for the birth.
How it works: This path involves working with private or public adoption agencies in countries outside the United States. The process and fees vary by country and depend on the organization you’re working with, which might be a government office, agency, orphanage, nonprofit, or an individual such as a lawyer. Some aspects of the process are unique. You will have to work through the immigration process, including applying for passports and visas and navigating foreign legal systems. The road can be long. The Child Welfare Information Portal estimates that international adoption can take anywhere from one to five years to complete.
How much does it cost: On average, international adoption costs between $20,000 and $50,000.
Expenses that may arise when adopting a child
Homeschooling marks the beginning of the adoption process.
While studying at home, prospective parents – and their family members – are screened to ensure that they will provide a safe and loving place for the child. The home study requires you to provide documents, including financial statements, employment records, and a letter from your doctor about your most recent physical details. You will also undergo examinations and interviews. This evaluation stage can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000, according to the Gladney Adoption Center, an adoption agency based in Fort Worth, Texas. This price can be adjusted based on your household income.
This step in the process also includes education and training. Some may be provided by the state agency that administers the home study at a cost of $300 to $600. It is likely that additional training hours will be required and will be done on your own through books or online courses, which can cost $100 to $200 per person.
Finally, during the home study, you will agree to the post-placement reporting phase. In the United States, a social worker visits the family several times over the course of six months after a child is placed at home. Post-placement reporting fees can range from $1,500 to $2,000.
When working with a private agency or attorney, significant expenditures are made in the process to find and match the birth mother. Advising and advertising fees may be transferred to the adoption agencies’ total fees. But if you’re seeking independent certification, you’ll likely pay for these services separately and costs can range more widely, depending on how and where you want to advertise. The Gladney Center estimates that counseling and advertising can cost between $3,000 and $7,000 for independent adoption.
Those who adopt a newborn bear the expenses of the new born mother. This can include medical bills and some living expenses, as well as counseling, legal fees, and travel. The Gladney Center estimates that these expenses can cost between $6,000 and $8,000 for parents seeking private adoption.
There are a lot of legal requirements in adoption, including the termination of parental rights by birth, court filing, negotiating the mother’s expenses at birth, and finalizing the adoption after the reporting period following placement. The adoption agency may include some of these expenses in their total fees.
If you are seeking independent adoption, legal fees will be the largest portion of your expenses, and cost between $7,000 and $15,000.
Travel costs for local adoptions can go up, although they are most important for intercountry adoptions. Distance is a major factor in how much you will pay for travel. Another is time. You may wait days or weeks for final legal approval to bring a child home, especially when crossing state lines or state borders.
For a private domestic adoption, you can pay up to $3,000 in travel expenses, according to the Gladney Center. (You might consider getting a travel credit card to offset some of these expenses.)
Estimates for adoption-related travel vary between countries. The cost can depend on the country the child lives in and the organization you work with. In a cost estimate on its website, New Beginnings — an international adoption agency based in New York — says that adopting a child in South Korea can include $6,000 to $9,000 in travel expenses. The Child Welfare Information Portal in the September 2020 Guide to International Adoption advised that adoptive parents are often required to be in the child’s country to finalize the adoption process. It may require multiple and extended visits.
Adoption in and of itself can be a long and expensive process, but this is just an introduction to the full cost of raising a child. New parents must budget for those expenses, which can be as high as $21,000 in the first year alone.