5 Types of Adoption and Their Associated Costs

5 Types of Adoption and Their Associated Costs

What are the different types of adoption and how much does adoption cost?

First, the good news on what you can expect on adoption cost.

While adoption costs vary by state, the bottom line is that out of pocket cost may be less than you think. Especially when you consider the adoption tax credit, employer benefits, and other sources of funding, including adoption grants. The truth is that there are different kinds of adoption, and various fees associated with each.  Some are less expensive and some more costly.

Adoption Costs Guide

Let’s start with defining some different types of adoption.

Foster Care Adoption: Foster care adoption is the adoption of a child in foster care whose biological parents’ rights have been terminated by a court. After that time, the child may be adopted by either his or her foster parents or another adoptive family.

Embryo adoption: Embryo adoption is a form of adoption that allows the adoptive mother to carry her genetically unrelated child and experience pregnancy and delivery.

Agency Adoption: Agency Adoption is an adoption that is facilitated by a state licensed agency. This agency provides counseling to birthparents, homestudies to prospective adoptive parents, relinquishment services and post-placement programs.

Independent Adoption: Independent adoption (also called an Open or Private Adoption) is when the birth parents and the adoptive parents make an agreement that the adoption should go forward.

International Adoption: International adoption (also referred to as intercountry adoption or transnational adoption) is a type of adoption in which an individual or couple becomes the legal and permanent parent(s) of a child who is a national of a different country.

5 Types of Adoption and Their Associated Costs

Here is a basic breakdown on fees for the types of adoption defined above.

Foster Care Adoption: $0 – $5,000
Embryo Adoption: $7,500 – $19,500
Agency Adoption: $20,000 – $45,000
Independent Adoption: $15,000 – $40,000
International Adoption: $25,000 – $50,000

One of the most important things to remember when considering the various types of adoption is to get the fee structure upfront. If whomever you are working with is not willing to be upfront, I’d suggest going elsewhere. Whether going through an agency or attorney, or using both for different aspects, the best thing is to be prepared and avoid being caught off guard by expenses you weren’t expecting.

Sadly, there are individuals and even organizations looking to profit from the vulnerability of both hopeful adoptive parents and birth moms everywhere. To ensure you do not fall into this category, be sure your agency is accredited and upfront when it comes to all of its billing procedures.

Adoption Costs Guide

Here’s a list of the most common expenses related to the adoption process:

Agency fees-These fees help cover the services provided by the adoption agency as well as its essential operating procedures. This includes things like staff, office space, paperwork and more.

Home study -an assessment of prospective adoptive parents to see if they are suitable for adopting a child.

Attorney fees– a lawyer who either solely focuses on adoption-related cases or who takes on adoption clients alongside his or her other non-adoption-related clients.  Note: If you feel more comfortable with an adoption attorney who only works with adoption, that is perfectly fine. I’d personally recommend it.

Counseling– Adoption counselors provide counseling and emotional support to parties involved in adoption and/or foster care situations. They work to ensure the overall well-being of the newly-formed family. They also help birth parents cope with the separation process.

Medical expenses– The Adoptive Parent (s) will typically pay for an infant or child’s medical expenses, should they have no medical insurance. This may include medical or psychological testing, the hospital stay and any needed clothing or food as they wait for placement. Adoptive Parents may also be asked to pay for temporary foster care, if needed. 

Dossier preparation– A dossier is a country-specific collection of documents designed to illustrate what the prospective adoptive family is like. An adoption dossier includes everything from a family’s medical and financial background to their employment history.

Travel expenses– All forms of adoption can come with some travel costs. For us, it was as simple as gas to drive a couple hours away but depending on your situation, it may be more. Of course if you are adopting internationally, this will likely one of your larger expenses.

Temporary foster care– Temporary care of a child until they are placed with an adoptive family.

In our case, we didn’t meet our daughter until she was two weeks old. Until that time, she was visited by a family that served as a temporary foster family.

Birth certificate-When a child is born a certified document indicates the birth information of a person including mother’s and father’s name and the name given to the child at the time of birth. Once the adoption is finalized, the original birth certificate is amended reflecting the adoptive parents as the child’s parents and the original birth certificate is sealed and in many states remains confidential.

Court costs– All domestic adoptions, as well as some intercountry adoptions, must be finalized in a U.S. court. Court documentation fees can range from $500 to $2,000, while the costs for legally representing adoptive parents may range from $1,500 to $4,000.

Let’s take a deeper dive and breakdown the potential costs of these types of adoption.

Again, these are just estimates and what you find may be very different. That is why it is so important to always get the cost structure upfront from whomever you decide to work with.

5 Types of Adoption and Their Associated Costs

Foster Care Adoption

Foster Care Adoption Estimates & Breakdown

(Costs will vary by each state)*

Home Study Fee ~$500
Documentation Preparation & Authentication ~$100
Attorney Fees ~$1,000
Travel Expenses ~$500
Miscellaneous Expenses ~$200- $500
Total ~ $0-$5000

Embryo Adoption

Embryo Adoption Estimates & Breakdown

(Costs will vary by each state)*

Home Study Fee ~$500
Agency Fees ~$1,000
Legal Contract ~$500
Shipment of the embryos ~$5,000
Frozen Embryo Transfer ~$4,000
Miscellaneous Expenses ~$200- $500
Total ~$7,500-$19,500

Adoption Costs Guide

Agency Adoption

Domestic Newborn Adoption Cost Estimates & Breakdown Through an Agency

(Will vary greatly based on agency and/or attorney used)

Home Study Fee = $1,500-2,500
Documentation Preparation & Authentication = $1000
Adoption Agency Application & Program Fees = $5,000-$20,000
Adoption Consultant Fees = $1,000-$3,000
Attorney Fees = $4,200 – $15,000
Advertising & Networking = $500-$2,500
Birth Family Counseling = $500-$1,000
Birth Mother Expenses = $3,000-$5,000
Foster Care = $100-$400
Travel Expenses = $1,000 – $3,000
Post-Placement Expenses = $500-$2,000
Miscellaneous Expenses = $1,000 – $3,000
Total ~ $20,000-$45,000

Independent Adoption

Domestic Newborn Adoption Cost Estimates & Breakdown for Independent Adoption

(Will vary greatly based on agency and/or attorney used)

Agency fees/Program Application ~$3,500
Home Study Fee ~$2,100
Program Fee ~$400
Education Fees ~$650
Parental Placement Home Study Court Report ~$1,000
Post Placement Fee ~$1,500
Birth Mother Expenses ~$5,000
Attorney Fees ~ $2,000
Court Costs ~$250
Total ~ $15,000-$40,000

International Adoption

International Adoption Estimates & Breakdown

(Costs will vary depending on Country & adoption agency and/or attorney)

Home Study Fee = $2,000 – $2,500
Documentation Preparation & Authentication = $2,000 – $5,000
Adoption Agency Application & Program Fees = $10,000 – $15,000
In-Country Adoption Expenses = $1,000 – $5,000
Child Passport, Visa, Medical Exam, and Other Fees = $500 – $1,500
Travel Expenses = $5,000 – $10,000
Post-Adoption Expenses = $1,000 – $3,000
Miscellaneous Expenses = $1,000 – $3,000
Total ~ $25,000-$50,000

Our Personal Story

5 Types of Adoption and Their Associated Costs

Here is more detail on our personal story. However, keep in mind that the actual cost depends on many factors, so your experience could be very different. The types of adoption we experienced were an agency and independent adoption.

Adoption #1-Abigail- Agency Adoption

Both of our adoptions were domestic infant adoptions. Our first adoption was through a private 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. They offer a full range of services to both adoptive and birth parents. Bethany Christian Services is a private, non-profit, Hague accredited agency with more than 120 offices nationwide.

When we adopted Abigail (in 2016), the cost with Bethany was a flat $25,000. Although it was a flat fee, this total was broken out into various components. I share the breakdown detail below.  The fees due were broken out over the adoption process. And, a large portion was not due until time of placement.

We appreciated that we were told the fee upfront and also made aware of any costs that would not be included. This included items like creating our profile book and updating our home study if it expired.

The way the fees were broken out was a huge advantage for us. And, we were able to get the process started before we had all the funds. Then, we focused on gathering additional funds as we progressed.

5 Types of Adoption and Their Associated Costs

Here is the cost breakdown at the time of Abigail’s adoption in 2016. Again this was an agency adoption.

$750- Application Fee
$1,900-Assessment Fee
$5,000-Pre-placement Services Fee
$2,500- Home Study Fee
$400- Program Fee
$650- Education Fees
$1,000- Parental Placement Home Study Court Report
$10,000- Post Placement Fee
$300- Birth Parent Services Retainer
$2,200- Attorney Fees
$300- Court Costs

TOTAL $25,000

In an ideal world you would have all of the funds available in the beginning. The reason is just in case of a fast placement. However, if we had let that stop us, we would never have adopted.

Adoption Costs Guide

Adoption #2- Bennett- Independent Adoption (Parental Placement)

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 we were chosen.  However, with Bennett, his birth mom (also Abigail’s birth mom) reached out directly to us.  We already had a relationship with her through our adoption of Abigail. This resulted in us moving forward with an independent adoption. 

Bethany performed our home study, which is a requirement. And, we hired an adoption attorney to do the rest. The costs paid for this adoption in 2018 is detailed below. The big difference here is an “Agency Adoption” vs. “Parental Placement  or Independent Adoption”. Again, these are our experiences and your adoption journey make look very different.

Also, you’ll notice that the total cost we paid was much less than the typical independent adoption. That is because the agency worked with us as much as they possibly could financially. The reason is that Bennett and Abigail are full biological siblings and they were passionate about doing all they could to keep them together.

5 Types of Adoption and Their Associated Costs

Here is the cost breakdown at the time of Bennett’s adoption in 2018. Again this was an independent adoption. 

$550- Application Fee
$2,100- Home Study Fee
$400- Program Fee
$650- Education Fees
$1,000- Parental Placement Home Study Court Report
$1,500- Post Placement Fee
$200- Birth Parent Services Retainer
$2,000- Attorney Fees
$250- Court Costs

TOTAL $8,650

I hope you found this information useful. If you’d like to learn more about ways to fund your adoption including how we gathered ALL the funds we needed for both of our adoptions, you can read more here.  

Please reach out if you have questions about the different types of adoption. I’m rooting for you and can’t wait to hear your story!

Adoption Resource Library

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