Chapter 8: How Much Does Adoption Cost?

The cost of adopting varies considerably depending on your chosen path.



According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, here are the prices associated with the main paths to adopt in the United States:

Foster Care 

One huge advantage to adopting through the foster care system is that  it is affordable for anyone. Fostering is low to no costs — just requiring time, love, and patience. There are no out-of-pocket costs, no costs to engage with the agency, no cost to get the necessary training or required classes, and no cost to have your home study done.

Additionally, foster parents are provided a stipend to cover medical expenses, transportation, food, and other necessities — the total amount of your stipend will depend on your state. . “If you are financially challenged and think no agency will have you, think again. They want you for what you bring to the table as a caregiver, as a stable and loving adult.”

Though no money is required, particularly for those hoping to adopt permanently, fostering is not without emotional risks. When children are first placed with your family, Ellen notes, efforts are focused on reunification with the family of origin, which is usually about a year-and-a-half’s worth of time. Those 18 months can be harrowing for foster parents who are forming attachments to the children in their care.   

Those with expendable income may be able to fast track the process by partnering with a private agency that works in conjunction with the state or county — such agencies should exist in every state, and the costs of doing so may be somewhere near $2,000. The advantage is time. Additionally, however, through some research, you may be able to find a private agency that is LGBTQ-affirming, and not worry about a public agency assigned to you by the state. 

Private Infant Adoption

Adopting a newborn through an agency can cost from $20,000 to $45,000 according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway. Doing so independently, without an agency, can cost between $20,000 to $45,000. 

Expenses will include those associated with completing your home study — the process everyone parent must go through in order to become a legal adoptive parent — advertising, documentation and authentication, postage and telephone costs, and any birth mother and birth family counseling needed. The biggest expense will be the lawyer's fees — both for the prospective parents' lawyer and the birth mother's lawyer.

If you are working with an agency, the costs associated with advertising for a birth family will typically be included in your agency fees. If you are working independently, with an adoption lawyer or facilitator, advertising fees will vary — and be dependent on your own eagerness.Less advertising means less expense, of course, but the flip side is that your match may take longer to find.

While adoption expenses can be daunting, they are also somewhat paced. Generally speaking, the largest payment will be due at the time of matching with your birth parent. The caveat, of course, is that once a parent or parents are approved and ready, it may be months before your child comes home – or the call could come in a week, at which time, that money comes due. 

How Can I Afford to Adopt? 

There are some resources available to help offset the costs. First, check to see if you qualify for the adoption tax credit. Then check out — it is one of the few grant making groups that will work with LGBTQ adoptive parents. They also work with single parents. Be sure to check with your employer to see if they have adoption benefits. If they don’t, talk with your HR department about instituting these benefits. Some families have successfully crowdfunded for adoption using GoFundMe or Indiegogo.

CONGRATULATIONS!  You've completed Chapter 8: How Much Does Adoption Cost?  

NEXT UP: Chapter 9: Legal Considerations for LGBTQ Adoptive Parents

Or, contact one of the experts interviewed for this article:

Barnaby Murff of Extraordinary Families

Molly Rampe Thomas of Choice Network Adoption

Trey Rabun of Amara


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.

Be a Part of Our Story

Join our continuously growing community of dads, families and industry experts. We’ll provide education, anecdotes and advice for wherever you might be in your journey to fatherhood. Sign up to our newsletter:

Sign up to our newsletter