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Comparing Adoption Costs – Which Type of Adoption is Right for Your Family?

When families are considering adoption, one of the most common questions is “How much does it cost to adopt a child?” The amount of money a family has budgeted for an adoption may determine which adoption process they choose — domestic, international or foster care. Understanding the breakdown of costs is essential to choosing the best method for your family. Here is an overview of the three main types of adoption, and the average costs associated with each.

Domestic Adoption

Average Cost with an Adoption Agency: $41,532
Average Cost with an Adoption Attorney: $35,594
Private domestic adoption is the adoption of an infant who has been voluntarily placed for adoption by his or her birth parents. This can be done through an adoption agency, which assists the family from the beginning to the end of an adoption, or independently, with the adoptive family finding a birth mother privately and using an attorney to legally complete the adoption.
Using an adoption agency may cost more because the agency is there to support both parties throughout the entire adoption. General costs for domestic adoption may include attorney representation for the adoptive and birth parents, medical costs, counseling, rent, phone and travel for the birth parents, as well as travel, court, home study and networking costs for the adoptive parents.

International Adoption

Average Cost (varies by country): $36,070–$46,412

Intercountry adoption is the adoption of a child from another country. In addition to agency and attorney fees, there are international travel expenses, as well as passport and immigration fees. Other fees may include dossier preparation, in-country travel expenses, and in-country adoption expenses.  The cost also varies from country to country.

Foster Care Adoption

Average Cost: $2,811
Average Monthly Subsidy: $846
This method of adoption is the least expensive because foster care adoption expenses are often reimbursed by the state. This state-run system gets state and sometimes federal tax money to provide needed services and make adoption plans. Children adopted out of foster care may also qualify for a monthly subsidy or health care through Medicaid.
Each year, Adoptive Families magazine polls new adoptive families about the expenses incurred during their adoption process. The most recent data published is from 2014–2015. A detailed breakdown of expenses can be found on their website.