How Much Does an Adoption Cost?

shutterstock_663456385Costs for adoption can vary depending on several factors. International adoptions can be more (or less) expensive than domestic adoptions. Adopting a special needs child, an infant, or a sibling group, for instance, may all carry different costs. Most of these are wholly dependent on the agency and type of adoption you are pursuing, but some costs, such as maternal health care, travel, and others, can vary greatly from one adoption to the next.


Domestic Private or Independent Adoption

For families who want to adopt an infant, a private domestic adoption sometimes referred to as an independent adoption or parental placement adoption is often their first choice. In this type of adoption, the birth parent(s) directly relinquish their rights to the adoptive parents. As part of a private adoption, you may agree to pay certain costs for the birth mother, including living expenses, medical care, clothing, and some others depending on the law governing the adoption The expenses will push up the cost of the adoption, and, in tandem with fees charged for legal representation of both you and the birth parent(s), may reach $45,000. More than half of the private adoptions handled by Jennifer Fairfax LLC cost between $25,000 and $35,000, with outliers costing less, or more, depending on the specifics.  If the birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s) all reside in the same state or all live in the District of Columbia the costs are considerably less, often below $20,000.

Domestic Private Agency Adoption

For families who prefer a “middle man” to handle the logistics of their adoption, they may hire a domestic private adoption agency to match them with a birth parent and coordinate the adoption process.  In this type of adoption, also almost all newborn infants, the birth parent(s) place the child with the agency which then places the child with the adoptive family.  The agency maintains legal guardianship of the child until the adoption is finalized while the family has physical custody.  An adoption through a private agency will range between $30,000 - $50,000 depending on the agency and expenses covered by the state where the agency is located and other factors.  Some agencies do provide a sliding scale for families that reside in the state(s) where they are licensed.

Public Agency Adoptions

Adoptions handled by public agencies tend to cost less than private adoptions. In some cases, the adoptive parents may only have to pay court costs associated with processing the adoption. Public agency adoptions may stem from a foster care situation, or they may be initiated by the prospective parents for a child being fostered by another family. This type of adoption is common for special needs children and sibling groups, as well as older children. Some families may receive a subsidy to help care for their adopted children, and the costs may be very low, as little as a few thousand dollars.

International Adoptions

The costs for an international adoption vary greatly from one country to the next. This can include differences in how much the country charges, how long you have to be present in the country before and after the adoption, airfare, and many other factors. Adoptions from China, for instance, often run about the same (or a little more) as a private domestic adoption: around $30,000 to $40,000. Other countries have different standards and fees, changing the cost, sometimes drastically, from one to the next. An experienced agency should be able to help you figure out the costs, the requirements, and which country would work best for your adoption

Tax Credits for Adoption

Depending on your income, you may qualify for a tax credit to offset some or all of the cost of your adoption. This credit is not available to all adoptive families, so it’s important to discuss it either with your accountant or with a qualified adoption attorney. Your financial situation will be a big factor in many aspects of the adoption process, so it's better to know (and be comfortable with) the answers to questions about your income, and taxes.

Finding the Real Answers to Questions about Cost

At Jennifer Fairfax, Family Formation Law Offices, you can find out the costs, roadblocks, and incentives for adopting a child. The questions you have about adoption require expertise that can only be provided by a licensed, experienced adoption attorney. With years of experience working with all types of families, Jennifer and Catelyn are ready to answer your questions and get you started on the road to a bigger family.


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“I believe in working with each of my clients—in support of their family dynamic—to make the dreams of parenthood a reality. Whether you are single or married; or gay; a step-parent, a surrogate or intended parent or a child of adoption, it is my mission to serve as your advocate. With a dedication to the ethical and sensitive nature of each situation, I will help you understand the laws within Maryland or Washington, DC for adoption or surrogacy, and pledge to be your partner throughout the journey.” - Jennifer Fairfax