Key takeaways

  • The cost of adoption ranges from $2,800 to $60,000, depending on the type of adoption you choose.
  • Many private organizations offer grants you can use to offset adoption costs.
  • States also offer adoption assistance programs that can provide monthly subsidies to help make adoption more affordable.

Expanding your family can be an exciting adventure, but one that can come with a hefty price tag. The Child Welfare Information Gateway estimates that adoption costs can set you back by as much as $60,000. This may explain why out of the 37 percent of adults who’ve considered adopting, only one quarter have considered it “very seriously.”

Thankfully, there are a number of growing resources, including adoption loans, grants, state and federal assistance programs, that can lessen the financial impact on your pocket.

How much does it cost to adopt a child?
Domestic adoptions in the U.S. cost less than $2,800 if done through the foster care system, or between $30,000 and $60,000 through an adoption agency.

Adoption cost statistics

  • The most affordable way to adopt a child is through the U.S. foster care system. On average, it costs under $2,800 to adopt a child from foster care.
  • Independent adoption through an attorney costs between $25,000 and $45,000. These estimates include fees for home study, the birth mother’s medical bills and legal and court fees for all of the parties involved.
  • Adopting through a private agency is the most convenient way to adopt, as the organization oversees the process from start to finish and includes additional services like counseling. However, it’s also the most expensive way to adopt as it can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000, depending on the agency.
  • Intercountry adoption is the second most expensive way to adopt, as you’ll have to factor in additional expenses, like travel and accommodation, escort fees and the child’s passport and visa. On average, it costs between $20,000 and $50,000 to adopt a child abroad.
  • Because they’re more cost effective, public adoptions (or adoptions through foster care) account for 58% of all domestic adoptions in the U.S.

Expert tip

“There are over 113,000 children and youth in the U.S. foster care system right now who are legally available for adoption and in need of a permanent, supported, and nurturing home and the process fees are typically less than $1,000 for that type of adoption,” says Kristen Hamilton, director of Communication at the National Council for Adoption.

“In addition, there are subsidies which many of these children will qualify for, that can help parents meet their needs after adoption. However, they should know that the subsidy process must be completed before finalizing the adoption.” Hamilton adds.

Financing an adoption

The median household income in the U.S. is just under $74,600 as of 2022. For many Americans, paying tens of thousands of dollars to expand their families is simply out of reach. That said, there are plenty of funding alternatives you can explore to reduce these costs.

Adoption loans

An adoption loan is a type of personal loan used to fund the costs associated with adopting a child. Personal loan rates range from around 6 percent to 36 percent, depending on the lender, with repayment terms between one and seven years.

Taking out a personal loan to cover the costs of adopting a child can be a good idea if you have good credit and a stable source of income, as this will allow you to secure the best interest rates. However, a potential downside is that you may have a tough time getting a loan with bad credit and — if you do — you’ll most likely end up with a high interest rate. Plus, if you default on the loan, you could damage your credit for up to seven years.

Adoption grants

Adoption grants are a type of gift aid you can use to pay for adoption costs. Because grants don’t need to be repaid, they are one of the best ways to finance adoption costs. That said, grants are given out on a first come, first serve basis and some can take a while to process. That’s why the sooner you start your application the better.

Adoption grants are given by private organizations and sometimes by the adoption agencies themselves. Some of the most popular organizations that give out grants for adoption include:

“Nearly all of those grants will require the family to have completed a home study in order to submit an application,” Hamilton says. “Some are tied to being further along in the process, but typically the grants are given so that the family can complete the adoption process and would be awarded well prior to finalization,” she adds.

Some grants are also limited to certain income thresholds, so read all the requirements in advance before you apply.

Assistance programs

Each state has its own adoption assistance program, which offers a monthly payment to families to help subsidize some of the costs. These amounts vary by state — and sometimes by county — and have limits based on the child’s age.

You’ll also have to apply for these subsidies at the state where you adopt the child, regardless of where you live afterwards. You can learn more about each state’s assistance program by visiting the North American Council on Adoptable Children’s website.

A growing number of employers are also offering to help cover adoption costs as part of their benefits. According to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, in 2023, surveyed employers who offered to reimburse adoption costs as part of their benefits package gave employees an average reimbursement of $14,831.

Regardless of where you adopt your child from, you may also be eligible to claim the federal Adoption Tax Credit. This credit is issued to you as a refund and, in 2023, you could get up to $15,950.


Another way to finance adoption is through donations. If this is something you’d like to explore, you can set up a donation campaign through websites like GoFundMe, AdoptTogether and Adoption Bridge. It should be noted that some of these sites charge a fee and if the goal isn’t reached by a certain date, you might lose some of the funds.

Frequently asked questions

  • Adopting a child can cost next to nothing but it can also cost thousands of dollars, depending on the pathway you choose. The most affordable way to adopt a child is to do so through the foster care system, as sometimes it can be completely free with the subsidies available.

    Here’s the cost breakdown of how much it can cost on average to adopt a child, depending on the method:

    • Foster care/public adoption: Less than $2,800.
    • Independent adoption: $25,000 to $45,000.
    • Private agency adoption: $30,000 to $60,000.
    • Intercountry/international adoption: $20,000 to $50,000.
  • The adoption process varies depending on the method you choose. However, some of the steps you’ll have to go through regardless are:

    • Information session: This will highlight what you should know about adoption, including the costs, what you’ll need and what to expect.
    • Courses and training: You will need to take a series of seminars that will give you tools to become a successful adoptive parent.
    • Home study: Once you complete your courses, you’ll be assigned a social worker. This person will determine your readiness for adoption based on factors such as your daily routines, the state of your home and background.
    • Make a profile: Upon passing the home study, the next step is to create a family profile to submit to the different adoption agencies.
    • Wait for a match: The adoption agency will contact you if your profile matches one of the children available in the system.
    To get a deeper understanding of how adoption works as a whole, visit the National Council for Adoption’s website.
  • Adopting a child can take several months to years, depending on the age range you wish to adopt, the country and adoption method. For instance, adopting a newborn can take between two and seven years, due to high demand. Domestic adoptions — especially those from foster care — can be done in a matter of months, whereas adopting internationally can take up to five years due to all the legal paperwork.
  • Adopting a child through the foster care system is the most affordable method. It typically costs less than $2,800, while other methods can set you back from $20,000 to $60,000.