Child Adoption Costs and Process

Everything You Need to Know about Adopting a Child
Written by Oana Schneider

For most parents, nothing beats the feeling of welcoming a new child into the family. But what if, for one reason or another, you cannot have kids as a couple? Or maybe you’re a couple who already has kids, but would not mind adding another child into the mix. Have you ever considered adoption? If yes, it can be a very rewarding experience once you finally manage to get through the entire process. also, child adoption costs are something to really think about!

The steps leading there is an entirely different matter. Before you can legally adopt a child, there is a quite tedious process that you have to go through, as well as costs that you would have to shoulder.

By doing your research, you can learn as much as you can about the adoption process and the costs involved. It might take you a long time to get there but once you have managed to weave through the system, the rewards are well worth it in the end.   

Adoption-Related Statistics

Before delving deeper into the costs and process of adoption, let us first take a look at a few statistics so you’d have an idea about how prevalent it is:

  • According to, in 2014, the top five countries for intercountry adoptions into the United States are:
    China = 2,040
    Ethiopia = 716
    Ukraine = 521
    Haiti = 464
    South Korea = 370
  • In 2014 , the number of incoming intercountry adoptions into the US by state are as follows:
    Texas = 440
    California = 402
    Florida = 298
    New York = 293
    Illinois = 269 (for all states visit
  • According to, 104,000 children in the US foster care system are waiting for permanent homes.
  • According to the US Department of Agriculture, it costs $245,340 to raise a child – minus the costs of sending a kid to college.
    If you are planning to adopt, you might need to spend an extra $8,000 to $40,000.
    If you are planning to adopt a kid from another country, the cost ranges from $15,000 to $30,000. Through foster care, the cost ranges from zero to $2,500 – although the child that you can adopt has a much older age range.

Basically, adoption refers to the legal act of a parent or parents – other than the birth parent(s) – to provide permanent care for someone under the age of 18.

The child can be from the United States or a country outside the US, the majority of which come from China. Foster care, on the other hand, is the system where a minor is placed into an institution, group home, or a private home of a foster parent.

Depending on whether you are adopting a child from a foster care institution, a private institution within the US or from out of the country, the regulations will differ.

It’s these regulations and the costs associated with it that you have to be aware of if you would like to successfully go through the process of legally adopting a child.

The Cost & Legal Process Behind an Adoption

Now, whether you are a single individual, a childless couple or a married couple with kids and you are considering adoption, there are plenty of things that you need to learn about before fully getting into it. Here’s a breakdown of the costs and steps to take in the legal process behind adopting a child:

1. The costs associated with an adoption.

As mentioned earlier, the cost of adopting a child ranges from $8,000 to $40,000.

If you’re planning to adopt, exactly where would your money go?

Number one is the opportunity for you to become a parent but specifically, the money will go to the professionals who will iron out the details regarding too often confusing adoption process.

Every state has different regulations when it comes to adoption. The process becomes even more complex if you are adopting a child from a foster care institution, or a different country.

A chunk of the money will go towards the domestic or international adoption agency. Just like any other service provider, one agency might charge more than another.

There are also adoption agencies who charge one straight fee while others have add-on fees depending on the complexity of the process that you’d have to go through.

Travel and miscellaneous costs make up the rest of the total funds that you would have to shell out when adopting a child. For instance, if you are adopting an about-to-be-born baby and the mom is out of state, you might have to spend several weeks there waiting for the delivery of the child.

Of course, the costs will be even higher if you are adopting a child from outside the US. The miscellaneous costs consist of everything else – from counseling to getting your background checks cleared.

To give you an idea about the specific costs of each, here is a rough estimate according to

  • With a US-born baby via an adoption agency, the typical cost ranges from $20,000 to $40,000.
  • If you will adopt an infant privately, you would only need the help of a lawyer. The cost of this option ranges from $7,000 to $10,000 in legal fees, plus medical expenses. At the very most, it can reach up to $35,000.
  • If you will adopt internationally, the cost ranges from $25,000 to $50,000 or more – depending on which country the infant hails from.
  • If you will adopt a child from the public foster care system of the US, the cost ranges from zero to $3,000. In 2012, more than 52,000 kids were waiting to be adopted – but remember that their age range starts from seven years old and up.
Child Adoption Costs and Process

“There are no unwanted children…just unfound families. – National Adoption Center”

Knowing what to expect cost-wise is very important if you are planning to adopt a child. If you’re a couple dealing with infertility issues, for instance, you need to be not just emotionally prepared – but financially ready as well.

The aforementioned costs do not yet include the money that you’d have to spend raising the child in the future, although this is something that you can easily work on once you get what you want which is to legally adopt a child and add a new member to your family. 

Related: How to Save Money on Child Care Costs

2. You need to be patient in going through the entire process.

After figuring out the costs associated with adopting a child, next comes the tedious, often time-consuming process. If you’re not patient, you might want to think twice about legally adopting a kid.

You will also experience a lot of ups and downs, so you have to be emotionally prepared. The length of time that it takes to adopt a child depends on several factors.

What are the state’s or country’s legal requirements?
How old are the prospective parents or the birth mother of the child?
What about the family structure?

Domestic adoptions are actually more unpredictable time-wise, because international adoptions take less than two years to complete.

If you’re a couple looking for a surrogate mother, the process will be as long as the time that it takes for the mom to get pregnant up to the time that the baby is born. This probably accounts to the rise in international adoptions, amounting to over 20,000 in 2001.

However, you still should not discount the possibility of a domestic adoption – experts say that 19,000 to 25,000 babies are domestically adopted every year.

3. Regulations for adopting a child from foster care.

For those who are considering adopting a child from the US public foster care system, the specific regulations vary per state.

You can first get in touch with, who will get you in contact with a public agency or a private adoption service provider in your state.

If you’re a family who would like to adopt a child from foster care, you would have to spend 9 to 18 months going through inquiry, orientation, preparation classes, and home study requirements.

4. Going through the main steps of adopting a child.

For domestic adoptions, the Independent Adoption Center evaluates if a family wanting to adopt from foster care has the financial resources to care for another child.

If the family is able to cover all of their monthly living expenses, in addition to adding a small amount to their savings, that’s a very good sign that they are qualified.

The level of consumer debt and the ability of the family to pay the adoption agency fees will also be considered.

For other options in adopting a child, there are other main steps that you would have to go through. Don’t worry, because the adoption agency will usually help you go through them one by one.

Child Adoption Costs And Process

Related: How to Save for Another Baby

5. Finalizing the adoption process.

After going through the tedious process and legal steps involved in adopting a child comes the finalization. To reach this, families need to complete paperwork such as an Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children, post-placement visits, and a finalization hearing.

The minute that the finalization hearing is over with, a family or couple is granted legal custody of the child. An adoption decree is awarded, and you can officially welcome the child as a new member of your family!

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.


  • I always find it unfair that adoption should be such a costly process, because I feel as though children who need love and support should be able to find that even if the family doesn’t have the money to see the process through to the end. But I suppose that is just the way the system is. If you’re thinking about adopting, it is certainly more than worth trying to get the money to do it, because it is a very rewarding thing to do in the long term.

  • This is a nice, comprehensive overview of the adoption process here in the United States. I have worked with foster children in the past, and one thing I would add is that if someone is seriously considering adopting in the future, s/he could start off by becoming certified as a foster parent, and seeing how that works for them. Many of the children in the foster care system have been through difficulties, and could be more challenging to raise, but there is help within the foster care system, so this could be a good way to ‘try out’ the process while having the safety net of case workers and counselors. This could also speed up the adoption process, since child placing agencies have to inspect the home and interview the potential foster parents prior to approving them for foster care.

  • The adoption process can take awhile, you must be prepared for what it will entail. This is a great, informative article. Thank you for sharing!

  • The statistics of the adoptions that international countries have made looks interesting. Looking at the statistics of this has me thinking about my cousin’s situation. She is thinking about placing a baby for adoption due to her financial status.

  • Awesome post on adoption process.This post will be very useful for those who are planning for adopting a child and the cost behind this adoption process.Thanks for sharing this informative post.

  • i find a most relevant post on adoption and it is very useful.and also share this post with my friends who were looking for adopting a child

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