It’s no secret: Adoption is expensive. For many couples, cost becomes the biggest obstacle to making their parenting dreams come true.
Typically, an adoptive family interested in private domestic or international adoption can spend up to $50,000. And while many families can and do turn to fundraising and adoption grants to help offset the cost, the hefty price tag is still a lot to ask.
But, there’s more than one way to adopt — and the third option can be much more affordable.
Foster care adoption is not only a fulfilling way to grow your family, but it’s also a lot more financially accessible than most people realize. But, wary of other adoption estimates, you’re probably still wondering, “Is it expensive to adopt a foster child?”
Foster care is practically free, making it a great alternative if you’re worried about the finances of private and international adoption. But there are a few things you need to know first, including why foster care is so affordable and what other costs you can expect along the way.
So, let’s get started.
Why is Foster Care So Much Cheaper than Other Adoptions?
It’s hard to believe there’s such a thing as a “free adoption.” But, it’s true. The average foster care adoption only costs (if anything at all) up to $1,500.
So, why is foster care cheaper than other adoptions?
The children available for adoption through foster care are wards of the state. Therefore, many of the steps involved in the pre-adoption process are already taken care of. For example, the fees required in a private domestic or international adoption are not required in foster care adoption. You don’t have to pay an application fee to become a foster parent, you don’t have to pay for prospective birth parent expenses, and you don’t have to worry about traveling abroad.
Children in foster care are also eligible for Medicaid until they are 18, and many states offer assistance for college expenses. There are also financial assistance programs in place to support foster parents.
Foster parents are eligible to receive a monthly adoption subsidy to help supplement the costs of caring for their child’s needs prior to adoption. This money can be put toward food, transportation, clothing and more for your foster (soon-to-be-adopted) child.
It’s also important to note that many states require hopeful parents to foster their child for a few months before the adoption is official. While you’re fostering the child, you will receive these subsidies. However, these subsidies don’t typically stretch far enough to cover all of a child’s needs. Before you foster or adopt, please make sure that you’re financially secure and ready to provide a positive home environment for the child you plan to adopt.
If there are any remaining costs for foster care adoption, such as attorney fees, they can usually be reimbursed after the adoption — making foster care adoption, in the end, practically free.
What Do I Have to Pay for to Adopt a Foster Child?
Because foster care is by and large the most affordable way to adopt a child, there are hardly any fees that hopeful parents need to worry about. But, that doesn’t mean you can enter into the foster care adoption process without being financially prepared.
There are a few things that prospective adoptive parents should budget for during foster care adoption. Your caseworker will describe these in detail for you, as well as provide a cost estimate for your adoption process.
How expensive it is to adopt a child you foster will depend on:
- The home study provider you choose
- Any agency fees, if you adopt through a private organization
- Matching and advertising fees (view photolistings for your state here)
For many parents, the home study will be the biggest expense. This process will cost an adoptive family anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000.
During the home study process, a family will need to demonstrate that they are financially stable and can support the needs of their foster (soon-to-be-adopted) child. You don’t need to be rich to adopt, but you do need to show that you can meet a child’s needs without relying on adoption assistance. Your caseworker will discuss with you how available financial assistance will impact how expensive it is to adopt a child you foster.
If a family chooses to work with a private foster care agency over a public one, they could also expect to pay some additional out-of-pocket expenses. However, it’s possible to receive a reimbursement or to have the fees waived once the adoption is finalized.
Keep in mind that each state has its own rules and regulations for foster care adoption. Before you begin, make sure to check out the requirements for yours.
Foster Care Adoption: More Than a Cheap Price Tag
Costs shouldn’t be the only factor when deciding which type of adoption to pursue. Foster care adoption may be the most inexpensive route to build your family, but like with all types of adoption, you should still weigh the pros and cons before making any big decisions.
Every foster child’s situation is different. Please read about the children in foster care if you’re wondering why foster care is so much cheaper than other adoptions. Foster care adoption is a life-changing commitment, so you should go into it as informed as possible. Every child in foster care has experienced some degree of trauma, and as a hopeful parent, you need to be prepared for what that might look like. Foster care adoption might be cheap, but emotionally, it’s still a costly endeavor.
So, is it expensive to adopt a foster child? Not at all. But, like with other types of adoption, there are a few costs — financial and emotional — that foster parents should be prepared for. To learn more about foster care adoption costs, please reach out to an agency near you.