How much does adoption really cost?

How much does adoption cost? That’s a question we’ve heard a lot since starting the process ourselves. We completely understand this concern. It was probably one of our biggest. The truth is that there are many different kinds of adoption, and therefore various fees associated with each.  Some are less expensive and some more costly. I understand that numbers are important! That’s what we wanted, so I’ll share our experience. However, keep in mind that the actual cost depends on many factors, so your experience could be very different.

Adoption Costs Guide

Adoption #1- Agency Placement Cost

Both of our adoptions were domestic infant adoptions. Our first adoption of sweet Abigail (pictured below) was through an agency. This means that the agency did virtually all the work and the placement was arranged through them. We chose to work with Bethany Christian Services. Like any legitimate adoption agency, Bethany has been carefully screened by the state. Therefore, they offer a full range of services to both adoptive and birth parents.

When we adopted Abigail (in 2016), the cost was a flat $25,000. This amount was broken out over the adoption process with a large portion not being due until time of placement. For us, this was a great advantage. We were able to get the process started before we had all the funds. Then, we focused on gathering additional funds as we progressed. In an ideal world you would have all of the funds on hand immediately just in case of a fast placement. However, if we had let that stop us, we would never have adopted. And, I can’t imagine these amazing kids not being ours!

I can already hear your next question. Why so much?! I get it!  I asked the same thing. That is a post for another day. But, please know that there is good reason why the costs are what they are.

Adoption #2- Parental Placement Cost

Our second adoption was through a “parental placement” because a birth parent was already identified. In Abigail’s case the agency did the work to present us to birth parents until one chose us.  With Bennett (pictured below), his birth mom reached out directly to us and asked us to adopt.  Bethany performed our home study, which is a requirement. And, we hired an adoption attorney to do the rest. This adoption (in 2018) was less than $10,000. The big difference here is an “Agency Adoption” vs. “Parental Placement”. Again, these are our experiences and your adoption journey make look very different

Types of Adoption

In addition to domestic infant adoption, other types of adoption include older child placement, waiting children, international, foster to adopt  and special needs adoption. Although this is not an exhaustive list, these are some of the more common types of adoption. Each have different fees associated with them. Waiting children, special  needs and foster to adopt typically cost much less. What type of adoption you decide to pursue is a very personal decision.


The Child Welfare Information Gateway, a U.S. government-funded adoption information service, estimates the below averages for the various types of adoption.

  • Private agency adoptions range from $20,000 to $45,000. This is dependent upon the agency used and specific adoption circumstances.
  • International adoption averages may run between $20,000 and $50,000.
  • Independent adoption costs typically range from $15,000 to $40,000.
  • Foster Care adoption usually involves very little expense because of Federal and State adoption assistance programs. These are in place to minimize financial hurdles and encourage the placement of children whose special needs or circumstances might make them more difficult to place. These could include older youth, sibling groups, or children with specific medical or mental health problems.

I hope you found this information useful. For a more in-depth look into adoption types and their associated costs, check out this more detailed post with a free cost guide.

Adoption Resource Library

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