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adoption costs domestic

Domestic Adoption Costs

The type of adoption you undertake and who you decide to work with are two of the major factors involved in the total child adoption costs.

All too often adoption agencies, adoption facilitators, and attorneys do not outline all the costs ahead of time and that means you could spend much more than you originally planned.

Types of Adoption and Fees

Many adopting persons think that there should be no costs involved in a domestic adoption since they are providing a loving home for a child.

Indeed that is the case for most foster care adoptions and, since adoption through the state foster care program costs little or nothing, the adopting parties think that all adoption costs should be similar to those of the state.

The type of adoption  is one of the two major factors that affects your total child adoption costs.

If you adopt through a public (state operated) adoption agency you typically are adopting through a state's foster care program. Generally, in these adoptions there are no fees that you will be required to pay. In fact, many states even pay you to adopt a child from the foster care system. However, recognize the there are still significant costs in a foster care adoption, but state tax dollars, and not you, pay the fees involved. If you are interested in such a child adoption, contact your state's child adoption contact, your state's child welfare agency, and or your state child adoption exchange.

When you adopt a child through a private (non-public) agency such as our program or through an attorney in a private adoption, all of the fees are your responsibility.

Other factors which can impact on your total adoption costs include such factors as the child's age, ethnicity, whether the child has special needs, the specific adoption agency or adoption attorney you work with, and what complications arise.

Your total cost for adopting a U.S. born child through a private agency or private source can range from approximately $40,000 to $80,000 and even higher.

Financial Assistance for Adopting Families

Financial Assistance for Adopting Families is a link that will provide information about programs that are designed to help you reduce the cost of adopting a child. These include up to approximately $12,000 tax credit, assistance from employers, state programs to assist adopting families, time off from work to adopt a child, and many other programs from both private and public agencies.

Costs in Adopting from a State (Public) Agency

As mentioned earlier, if you adopt through a state (public) adoption agency or foster care program there are typically no fees, or very limited fees, that you will be required to pay. It is not that there are no costs in these types of adoption. In fact, an analysis was done in 2004 determined that the actual costs involved in a state foster-care adoption was approximately $35,000 in 2004 dollars. An adopting family does not pay these costs since the costs are covered by tax-dollars, but the costs are still there.

Services and Costs for a Domestic Child Adoption

Below we have listed the various services, costs and fees typically associated with adopting a child domestically. When these fees are required to be paid is important! In many cases the fees must be paid up front and you are at risk of losing your money without completing the adoption process.

In a domestic adoption, the adoption process itself and the fees that you, as the adopting family, are allowed to pay are addressed in most states as part of the state adoption law. Typically, the "allowable" fees are licensed adoption agency fees, legal and attorney fees and expenses, medical and hospital care for the birth mother related to the pregnancy and birth, the baby's hospital and medical care, and some of the expenses of the birth mother during, and possibly after, her pregnancy. You may want to review your state of residence adoption law.

Be careful when comparing fees since some agencies, adoption facilitators, and attorneys may give you partial costs and fail to mention fees charged by other governmental authorities, or hospitals, doctors, attorneys, or travel costs, or document preparation fees, etc. Remember, your TOTAL adoption bill includes not only agency costs but also many other fees such as your Home Study, all legal, doctor, hospital, state and federal fees as well as court, travel, lodging, filing fees and others.

You will quickly discover that agencies and private adoption sources may charge for any or all of the fees listed below and they may combine some of the fees in with other categories. In some cases many of these fees are paid "up front" and may or may not be refundable. You should ask any agency or other adoption resource about the following services and fees, when they are paid, and if and when they are refundable.

FEES ABOUT WHICH YOU SHOULD ASK EVERY AGENCY OR PERSON YOU MAY CONSIDER ASSISTING YOUR IN ADOPTION. (Your repeated reference to this list is the reason we suggest you save this page to your "favorite places" and print this page for later reference.)


This is the initial fee an agency may charge to review your initial information, to see if they can help you, and to open a file. This fee typically ranges from $0-$3,000. With our agency, Adoption Services, this $2,500 fee is refundable if you are not accepted into our program.


This fee may be combined with the Registration and is usually paid when a completed application is being prepared. This fee typically ranges from $0-$4,500. Our Application fee is $4,000 and is refundable if you are not accepted into our program.


This fee is submitted with the completed Home Study Application. The Home Study Application and the Application are typically used to prepare for the Home Study Interviews and to prepare documents that will later be required by local, state, and federal authorities. This fee typically ranges from $250-$4000. Our agency does not have a separate fee in this category.


This fee covers the costs for the interviews and home visits that are made as part of the Home Study process. Following the interviews and review of documentation, a Home Study Report is prepared. This fee typically ranges from $750-$4000. Our fee for this service is $2,500.


All Home Studies must be kept current and they are typically valid for 1-3 years depending on your state of residence. If a placement does not take place within that period, a completely new Home Study may not be needed. Rather, an update Home Study may need to be completed. This fee typically ranges from $0-$1,000. Our fee for this service is $700.


This fee is typically charged when you have your Home Study completed by one agency but you work with a different agency to help you complete an adoption. This fee typically ranges from $0-$2,000. Our review fee is $1,800.


If the agency or attorney you work with uses a "pooling program", you will need to develop a profile. This fee typically ranges from $100-$2000. Our agency, Adoption Services, uses a fixed waiting list and not a "pooling program" so no profile or profile fee is required.


This is usually the single biggest fee you will pay. This fee typically covers on-site (agency office) services rendered to the adopting persons from the completion of the Home Study through the placement of the child, the termination, surrender, or relinquishment of parental rights, and the finalization of the adoption. Many agencies have all, or part of, this fee paid "up front" or at the time of a child referral. If the placement and adoption do not proceed you may loose all or part of this fee. This fee typically ranges from $3,000-$45,000. With our agency, Adoption Services, this $40,000 fee is paid only after the termination of parental rights and, accordingly, there is no risk you will loose any of this fee.


When a child from one state is placed with a family in another state, the Interstate Compact administrators in both states must give approval of the placement. The child must remain within the borders of the child’s state of birth until approval is given to travel outside the state of the child’s birth. This fee helps cover the additional time in completing the paperwork, contacting and working with attorneys and other agencies in the state of the child’s birth, and for assisting in the entire interstate process. This fee typically ranges from $0-$1,800. With our agency, Adoption Services, to assure no loss of fee, this $1,500 fee is paid only after the termination of parental rights at the same time as the Agency Service Fee.


In a domestic adoption and many international adoptions, after-placement (called post-placement) supervisory contacts and visits are required. The number and frequency of these depends on state and federal laws. Typically you are charged for the supervisory session, for travel time and travel costs, and for any needed reports. This fee typically ranges from $250-$750 plus travel for each visit with the average number of visits being 3-4. Our Agency fee for this service is $500 plus travel for each visit and report.


In a private adoption or facilitator adoption many adopting families pay for news-paper and other advertising fees. These fees can mount up to many thousands of dollars. Most agencies include advertising costs in their overall agency fee but with a private adoption or a facilitator adoption this fee typically ranges from $0-$10,000. There are no fees in this category with our Agency.


This is a reimbursement for travel costs including car rentals, mileage, tolls, airfare, parking, taxi, phone, food, and hotel. Additional direct reimbursement fees are costs of hospital pictures, costs for overnight, next day, special delivery, certified mail, phone charges, etc. This fee typically ranges from $100-$4500 and our fee is typically within this range.


This applies only when an agency or attorney provides on-site (in-office) services based on an hourly rate. Typically, hourly rates vary from $100-$375/hour. We do not charge in this category.


This fee is based on out-of-office professional services. Examples include conducting meetings and visitations with birth parents, adoptive families, hospital staff, attorneys, other agencies, home visitations for the home study and post-placement supervisory visitations, hospital visitations with the birth mother, birth father, baby and/or adopting family, hospital placements, attendance at legal proceedings and court hearings, and all other agency off-site services. Hourly rates typically vary from $100-$325/hour. Our fee for this service is $225/hour plus actual travel expenses.


The “average” medical bills for a birth mother and baby vary from zero to many thousands of dollars. The actual amount depends on the specific hospital and the needs of the birth mother and baby. The birth parents, the baby, and/or the adopting family may or may not have, or be covered by, insurance or medical assistance. Typically, you will be responsible for any of these bills that are not paid for by insurance or medical assistance. These costs typically ranges from $0-$18,000. Since you may loose any fees paid if the adoption does not proceed, ask the agency or attorney how these monies are protected. With our agency, Adoption Services, you place the anticipated medical expenses for the birth mother and baby into a trust (escrow) account with the agency attorney to insure the payment of medical expenses and to assure these funds are not lost if the adoption does not proceed. At our Agency we typically find these expenses to range from approximately $0-$12,000.


In domestic adoptions, this fee covers the attorney's interstate fees, the ending of the biological parents' rights, the preparation and finalization of adoption papers, allowable legal expenses incurred by the biological mother and father, and other needed legal services provided by attorneys. Total legal fees typically range from $2500-$10,000. We find our average is between $7,500-$10,000.


These fees typically range form $100-$800. Our typically range from $100-$200.

Adoption Services' Fees for a Domestic Child Adoption

At our child adoption agency, Adoption Services, we pride ourselves on providing the highest level of personal and professional care. We spend a great deal of time, effort, and money to reduce or eliminate risks.

We are a private, fully licensed, and non-profit agency. We receive no federal or state money to support our Agency and our programs. Our program costs and agency overhead are paid solely by fees charged to adopting families. This means that our fees are higher than those charged by public (state) agencies and religious based agencies.

A complete and detailed breakdown of Adoption Services' fees and the other miscellaneous fees you can expect to pay are part of our Program Description and Fee and Service Schedule that are provided upon request and automatically provided to everyone who registers with our Agency.

As mentioned above, when these fees are required to be paid is important! While at many facilitators and adoption agencies the fees must be paid up front which you at risk of losing your money without completing the adoption process at Adoption Services, except for the Registration fee, none of these fees are paid "up front." And your Registration is totally risk-free. The Registration fee for our Domestic or International Program is fully refundable if we do not accept you into our adoption program. Additionally, the money to cover the birth mother and baby's medical bills is protected as is any Interstate Fee.

If you adopt a healthy U.S. newborn or infant through one of our programs, the average TOTAL of all the fees listed in the above sections will be approximately $60,000 to $75,000. The range is large and depends on the medical coverage for the baby and birth mother.

Please remember in comparing costs that some adoption agencies, facilitators and/or attorneys may quote you a cost to adopt a child but that cost may not be a total cost and that they may tack on substantial fees and other items after you are already financially committed.

Please visit our home page to read about our commitment to assist adoptive parents like you as well as pregnant women and birth parents.

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