That all depends. The cost of any one placement will be unique, depending on how you adopt and how the many variable expenses of adoption stack up as the process moves forward.
Agency-assisted adoptions usually cost between $30,000 and $45,000. In most cases, using an adoption attorney will be less expensive, but not by much. Fostering to adopt, working through a State government agency, is generally the least-expensive option.
In this guide, we’ll break down the fixed and variable costs you’ll find at most adoption agencies, and compare the services offered to those you’ll find with a lawyer or the US foster care system.
Breaking Down The Costs Of Domestic Agency Adoption
In considering an agency, you’ll often be able to review their fixed expenses in advance. These costs, which don’t change from adoption to adoption, usually include:
- basic application fee
- educational courses and pre-placement counseling
- home study, which may include travel expenses depending on how far you live from their office, criminal background checks and fingerprinting
- pre-placement meetings in your home, generally charged on an hourly basis
- a fee for the actual movement and placement of a waiting child into the prospective adoptive family’s home
- post-placement reports, required by law
As with any other business (or non-profit, in the case of Adoptions From The Heart), you’ll also be paying for the agency’s overhead: keeping the lights on, paying social workers, etc. Smaller agencies usually have less overhead, and thus lower costs. But small agencies also invest less money in locating expectant parents, which means they’ll have “fewer babies to place,” increasing wait times for adoptive parents, according to US News & World Report.
Those fixed costs represent the least you can expect to pay for an adoption. To see how Adoptions From The Heart’s fees add up, check out our Fee Schedule, guaranteed through June 30, 2016.
What We Can’t Predict: Variable Adoption Expenses
Birth Parent Expenses
With many private adoption agencies, you can expect to pay for the expectant parents’ counseling and many of their living expenses. Obviously, there’s no short answer to how much that will cost. Every state has its own law on what types of expenses prospective adoptive parents are allowed to pay in the first place. You may also have to pay the expectant parents’ attorney fees.
At Adoptions From The Heart, we do not charge pregnant women for our services. In rare cases, we may ask prospective adoptive parents to help pay for some of their other expenses. Families have a significant amount of control in this respect, indicating in advance how much they would be willing to offer for birth parent expenses. In some cases, agencies like Adoptions From The Heart have a fund formed by donations that can be used to offer expectant parents the help they need.
It’s likely that you’ll pay the medical expenses for birth and delivery, although some of these costs may be covered by insurance.
Home Study Addendums
You may have to pay to update a home study (this is technically called an “addendum” to a home study), which is required every few years. That cost, of course, depends on how long you wait for a child’s placement, a highly-variable factor.
Home studies are a critical step in the adoption process, and also required by law in every state. In conducting a home study, we have two goals: educate prospective adoptive families in preparation for the placement of a child and determine whether or not their home will provide a safe, healthy and loving environment for a child.
Preparing for your home study, developing your adoption profile and thoroughly educating yourself on the responsibilities and demands of parenting a child: these things take a significant investment of time.
Technically, these are fixed expenses, but the amount you’ll have to pay to file legal documents and finalize the adoption varies considerably from state to state. Some prospective adoptive parents choose to work through adoption attorneys. Qualified lawyers are certainly experienced in handling the legal side of adoption, but for any other services, they’ll refer families to an agency or social worker. That’s why the average attorney-assisted adoption costs only $3,800 less than an agency-assisted one.
It’s important to note that many attorneys will keep the fees you’ve paid them no matter what happens, even in the case of a failed adoption. Agencies, on the other hand, often credit the money you’ve put in to a future adoption. That can mean a lot less risk for adoptive parents in the long-run.
How Much Does It Cost To Adopt A Foster Child?
Adopting a child through a regional Foster Care program is usually the least expensive option open to prospective adoptive parents. The process can cost nothing, and usually tops out around $2,500. Many families also receive a government subsidy after placement, to help them cover the costs of raising a child.
Fostering to adopt isn’t free from complications, however. Parents have very little control over the placement process, and the State’s primary goal, reuniting families, can prevent many hopeful foster parents from becoming adoptive parents.
Foster children are generally older, with the median age of a foster child being 9, according to Children’s Action Network.
How Much Is The Adoption Tax Credit?
In 2012, Congress made an Adoption Tax Credit a permanent feature of the US tax code, and it can help qualifying families offset many of the expenses of adoption.
For adoptions finalized in 2015, the maximum allowable tax credit is $13,400 per adopted child. The maximum may change, however, depending on your family’s income.
Best of all, the tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax liability, not a reduction in the income used to determine your tax liability.
To learn more about the Adoption Credit, visit the Internal Revenue Service.