How Much Does It Cost To Adopt A Child?

Adopting a child is a special, life-changing experience for the family and the child. Adoption provides a child with support, care, and a family they would never have otherwise had. Adopting can be a complicated process, however, in order to protect the interests of the child.

Adopting a child will cost money, as a complex legal process must transpire in order to ensure adoption. Cutting corners during this process can create future legal issues or stall the adoption process, so it’s important to pay all necessary fees to guarantee a reputable service and a smooth process.

Families looking to adopt a child may not know how much adoption costs or those adoption fees vary depending on where a child is adopted from.

Specific adoption costs, such as the national average, minimum and maximum, along with the average range, and duration are as follows:

National Average Cost$55,000
Minimum Cost$0
Maximum Cost$80,000
Average Cost Range$50,000 – $60,000
Average Duration1 year

There are several different methods of adoption, which substantially influence the cost of adoption. Each method requires different forms of legal representation and agency partnership, along with unique requirements – all contributing to the overall cost of adoption.

How Much Does It Cost To Adopt A Child?

Adoption of a child within the United States costs up to $45,000, while adoption of a child abroad costs between $30,000 to $80,000. A variety of costs are included in the adoption fee, such as legal fees, the cost of matching services, and insurance. In some situations, children within the United States can be adopted at no cost to the adopting family.

The cost of adoption varies depending upon where the child is adopted from, what sort of agency the adopting family partners with, the type of arrangement (if any) organized between the birth parents and the adopting parents, and any state laws which apply to the adoption process.

For information on adoption law in your specific state, refer to the Child Welfare Information Gateway.

Most children adopted by families within the United States are from foreign countries and brought into the United States through the adoption process.

If you decide to adopt a child in the United States, make sure you satisfy all requirements mandated by federal law, and any regulations present in your state. Failing to satisfy any major requirements will bar you from adopting a child.

For adopting a child abroad to bring into the United States, the following requirements must be met:

  1. The primary sponsor must be a U.S. citizen
  2. Unmarried sponsors must be 25 years old at minimum
  3. Married sponsors must accept joint adoption of the child and be U.S. citizens
  4. Sponsors must meet additional requirements to gauge parental suitability

For more information on federal laws regulating child adoption, consult the adoption guide provided by the U.S. Department of State.

Cost and Process Duration Breakdown by Method

The various methods of adoption can be further broken down by cost and process duration as follows:

Child Foster System$0 – $3,0009 – 18 months
Stepparent Adoption$250 – $3,00090 – 180 days
Domestic Adoption$20,000 – $45,000 1 – 2 years
International Adoption$30,000 – $70,0002 – 3 years

Child Foster System

In the United States, the foster care system offers the opportunity for families to adopt a child for little to no cost. Given there are over 400,000 children in foster care homes, many families choose to adopt from this system.

Requirements for child foster adoption and the cost of adoption vary by state, as different states may require more thorough background checks or different legal procedures. For example, the state of Alabama makes adoption a streamlined process, as it requires less scrutiny over home studies or background checks.

Stepparent Adoptions

Stepparent (or second parent) adoptions are a common method of adoption. Through this method, the spouse of either biological parent adopts the child. Legal requirements vary by state., such as in Minnesota and New Hampshire, which keep this process comparatively simple.

This method of adoption is faster and legally simpler than most methods of adoption, as the adoption is under a family member. Home studies, exhaustive background checks, and other requirements can be waived, keeping adoption fees low.

Domestic Adoption

Adopting a child domestically is accomplished through partnering with attorneys or private adoption agencies. Adopting a child within the United States can cost from $20,000 to $45,000. Final adoption costs vary by state.

State laws regulating domestic adoption cover background checks, adoption consent rules, grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights, rights of unmarried fathers, and other legal subject matter. Unlike the Child Foster System, domestic adoption can be arranged prior to the birth of a child, meaning that adopting families can practically raise an adopted child from birth.

International Adoption

Internation adoption is the most expensive and legally complicated form of adoption. Various legal obstacles must be overcome, such as citizenship requirements, transportation, international regulation, and any applicable laws from the country the child is from.

Despite the legal hurdles, families still opt to pursue international adoption, with families adopting 4,714 children adopted internationally in 2017. In the past decade, more children have been adopted from countries including China, Ethiopia, Russia, South Korea, and Ukraine.

How Much Does It Cost To Adopt A Child?

The cost of child adoption varies by method. Adopting a child within the United States can cost up to $45,000 while adopting a child internationally costs between $30,000 to $70,000. Specific costs vary by state, as each state has different laws regarding legal representation, case processing, background checks, and more.

Adoption through the Child Foster System or stepparent adoption can be completed at little to no cost to the adopting family. These methods of adoption are typically completed faster than domestic or international adoption, as the legal work burden is lighter for these methods.

Domestic and international adoption can be time-consuming processes but allow the adopting families to partner with specialized services to match them with a child. Preferences like language or country of origin can be taken into consideration.

When determining which method of adoption is best for your family, be sure to consider the costs, duration, and legal requirements of each method.