How much does it cost to adopt a child?


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Adopting a child can he a huge expense for the adopting parents. While some parents-to-be opt to work directly with a public agent, the paperwork and process involved often call for specialized knowledge.

Luckily, many private agencies exist to make this process easier, though at a cost.

In addition to the actual cost to adopt a child, prospective parents need to consider additional expenses, such as travel costs, attorney fees and any medical expenses associated with the child.

When using a private agency to adopt a child, expect costs to range in the tens of thousands of dollars, with many adoptions costing on average from $20,000 to $40,000. Adopting an infant usually costs less, totaling anywhere from $15,000 to $35,000.

How adoption works

The adoption process proceeds depending in large part on whether you seek a newborn or an older child. Older children usually find themselves in the foster care system of their respective state.

On the other hand, newborns never enter the foster care system but are transferred directly into the care and custody of their adoptive parents.

Before an adoption occurs, the adoptive parents must determine if they can provide a safe and nurturing environment, including undergoing a home study performed by a social worker. The social worker meets with the family over a three- to six-month period, and determines the safety of the home and whether or not the parents can provide a loving environment for the child.

In addition to making sure the parents can provide a good home environment for the child, adoptive parents often must legally terminate the rights of the birth parents or family before the adoption can proceed. This process might require a lawyer, but this is not always the case.

Regardless, any matter brought before the courts requires a legal fee, so you must pay any associated court costs incurred during the adoption process.

Private vs. public adoption

When adopting a child, initially you must choose between adopting the child through a public or private agency. The public agency works directly with you to determine your fitness as a parent, while the private company serves as a liaison between the government agency and you.

Cost represents the main difference between dealing with the public agency and a private agency. Usually you incur no costs when dealing directly with a public agency. However, a private adoption company charges for its services.

Charges include handling the filing of the appropriate paperwork, general case management and a wide selection of other services.

Pinning down an exact cost can prove difficult, as potential adoptive parents must take into account any necessary legal action, medical expenses and other factors in the adoption process.

Payment options for adopting a child

Fortunately, most private adoption agencies do not require that you pay everything upfront. Most often, the agency divides the payments into multiple portions. This allows you to budget more appropriately when adopting and makes the process more accessible to lower-income families.

Loans and grants for adoption

In addition to various payment options, prospective parents also can apply for a loan or grant to cover expenses. Another cost is transporting the child to the adoptive home, especially if he or she is coming from out of state.

Airline discounts for adoption-related travel and the Adopt Air Program represent just two of the options available.

Federal adoption tax credit

When determining the cost to adopt a child, it’s good to know that the U.S. government offers a tax credit for adoption. The tax credit currently stands at up to $10,000 and reduces your total tax liability, helping to offset some of the cost of an adoption.

Military members and adoption

Members of the U.S. military also qualify for a reimbursement for the cost to adopt a child. The military allows a maximum reimbursement of $5,000 per year, or $2,000 per child, to help pay for one-time adoption costs.

In addition, adopting a child with special needs provides up to $1,000 per month in assistance. Furthermore, the military works with families with special needs children to assign the military member to a duty station that best meets the needs of the child.


Adopting a child represents a chance at a new start for many children. It also gives couples without the ability to have a child a chance to provide a loving home for a newborn or older child.

Costs range in the tens of thousands of dollars, with many adoptions ranging from $20,000 to $40,000. Adopting an infant usually costs less, totaling anywhere from $15,000 to $35,000.

Knowing the associated cost to adopt a child can help you decide if adoption is for you.