How Much Does It Cost To Adopt A Child?

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Adopting a child is a major decision for any family, not just because of the emotional toll of becoming a parent but also the financial aspect. So, how much does it cost to adopt a child? There are many factors to consider and the cost can be rather expensive.

To help you stay ahead of the financial part of adoption, we’ve gathered useful information about the process and how these factor into the total cost. 

Types Of Adoption

The type of adoption you choose (public, private, or intercountry) plays a major role in the overall cost of adoption.


Adopting a child from a public agency is a good choice for families seeking a low-cost option. Public adoption, also known as foster-to-adopt, consists of adopting a child through the foster care system. A foster child is placed in your care, and if the child is unable to return home or live with a relative, you have the option of adopting the child.

How much does it cost to adopt from a public agency? The cost can be less than $1000, on average. State and federal adoption assistance programs make the process more accessible to make foster-to-adopt appealing to families looking to adopt and place foster children in loving homes.


Private adoptions involve parents working with an adoption agency or independently with an attorney to adopt a child. Whether you work with an agency or attorney, private adoptions require counseling, training, a home study, placement, and legal documentation. You may also incur the cost of medical expenses for the expectant mother if you are adopting a newborn.

How much does it cost to adopt a child in a private adoption? It varies depending on the agency you use and if you choose an independent adoption. When using an adoption agency, the average cost is between $30,000 and $60,000. Adopting independently using an attorney is less expensive on average, ranging from $25,000 to $45,000. 


An intercountry adoption refers to public and private adoptions outside the United States. The cost and process vary depending on the country and organization you work with to adopt. You can go through multiple organizations for intercountry adoption, including an adoption agency, government office, non-profit organization, orphanage, or an independent adoption with an attorney. 

Intercountry adoptions involve different processes compared with public and private adoptions. You go through the immigration process to obtain passports and travel visas. You also navigate the legal system in the country you adopt from. The process of an intercountry adoption can be quite long, taking an average of five years from start to finish.

While the cost of an intercountry adoption can vary depending on the location, the average cost of an intercountry adoption is between $20,000 and $50,000.

couple gazing at toddler child
Courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio (via Pexels)

Other Expenses That Can Arise

Throughout the adoption process, you will find other expenses you may not previously consider when starting to adopt. 

Home Study

The first step in the adoption process is the home study. A home study is conducted with prospective parents and family members to ensure they can offer a safe and loving home for a child. The evaluation will require the parents and family members to go through background checks and interviews. You will also be required to share employment records, health records, and financial statements.

Following the initial evaluation, you may be required to go through some training. This training can be done through a state agency, but you can also choose to participate in online courses. The next phase in the home study occurs after the child has been adopted. Over the six months following the adoption, a social worker will visit the family to report how the family and child are adjusting to the adoption placement.

Here is a breakdown of the costs associated with the home study process:

  • Initial evaluation: $1,800–$3,000
  • Education: $400–$800
  • Placement: $1,500–$2,000

Search Fees

If you are going through a private adoption for a newborn, you will incur search fees for finding and matching with a birth mother. The associated fees include advertising and consulting. While these fees may be wrapped into the adoption agency’s fee, if you are pursuing independent adoption with an attorney, those fees are not included. The cost can range between $3,000 and $7,000 with an independent adoption.

Health Expenses

In some private adoptions, adoptive parents will pay for the birth mother’s medical expenses. While you are not legally obligated to cover these expenses, the birth mother can request compensation as part of her agreement to give her baby up for adoption. Medical expenses are commonly covered, with some prospective parents also covering living expenses, legal fees, counseling, and travel. On average, covering these costs can be between $6,000 and $8,000.

Legal Expenses

Adoptions involve many legal requirements, which can include the termination of rights of the birth parents, birth mother expenses negotiations, court filings, and adoption finalization. Some adoption agencies include legal expenses as part of their fee. With an independent adoption, the legal expenses can cost between $7,000 and $15,000, which will take up a majority of your budget. 

Travel Expenses

With domestic adoptions, both public and private adoptions, you will incur some travel expenses. The average cost of travel expenses for domestic adoptions is $3,000, but this could vary depending on how far you are traveling from your home for the adopted child.

Intercountry adoptions will incur much higher fees compared with domestic adoptions. The cost varies greatly depending on where you are traveling, but you can expect to pay for flights, lodging, food, and other related travel expenses. You may also need to take multiple trips. For an accurate idea of what the cost could be, look into the country you are considering adopting from and budget average expenses.

Cost Of Raising A Child

While there are many fees to consider in the adoption process, don’t forget to consider how much it costs to raise a child until they turn 18 years old, at least. For the first year of a newborn’s life, expenses can cost up to $20,000. On average, it can cost between $15,000–$17,000 annually to raise a child.

Adopting a child and growing a family can be a very exciting time. Now, you have answered the question how much does it cost to adopt? You can start proactively planning out your budget to alleviate one area of stress in your adoption journey.

This article was written exclusively for Love What Matters by Kate Fann. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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