I’m not shy about sharing my adoption story.
The month my husband and I traveled over 4,000 miles to bring home three school-aged kids who didn’t have a home was one of the most fulfilling times of my life.
But I started keeping it to myself after a while. It wasn’t because I was embarrassed, or because I thought my kids were. But I began to realize that most people had an unrealistic idea of the cost of adoption. When I told folks we had adopted from Eastern Europe, they would gasp and look at me like I was the Sultan of Dubai.
Adoption can be costly, yet most American families are surprised to learn how affordable it really is. If your heart is leading you to give a home to an orphan, don’t let money stand in the way until you have learned all the facts.
How much does adoption cost? It depends on where you start.
Foster Care Adoption
Adopting through Foster Care is by far the least expensive way to adopt. It can be anywhere from $0 to $3,000 to finalize a foster care adoption. In some states, an adoption stipend will cover any legal fees associated with foster care adoption. If you are eligible for the adoption tax credit, your reimbursement will cover these fees more than adequately.
Almost one-fourth of the children in foster care are already available for adoption. The greatest need is for children ages 3–8. Infants are also a growing part of first-time admissions, and most children adopted from foster care are under the age of 3. More than half (54%) of the children in foster care are adopted by their foster parents.
Your social workers may also be able to identify foster children who they believe to be more likely to become free for adoption in the future. The downside of this arrangement is that they cannot guarantee that biological parents’ rights will be terminated, or that other relatives will not stand up to claim the child in the future.
If your child is not yet available for adoption, you will receive a monthly tax-sheltered stipend of $400 to $800 for the care of your child. Needs it can be applied to include food, clothing, and child care. The exact amount you will receive varies from state to state and depends on the unique requirements of your child or children. Foster parents can also claim the child as a dependent on income tax returns.
Most children in foster care are eligible for Medicaid and could receive free college tuition. If you are open to adopting an older child or sibling group, foster care can be a very affordable means of becoming a family.
Domestic Infant Adoption
Domestic infant adoption is what most people think of when they hear the word “adoption.” In many cases, adoptive families can travel to the hospital and meet their baby the day they arrive in the world. The goal of domestic adoption is to find a great home for a newborn whose birth mother is not ready to be a parent.
Depending on the agency you use, domestic infant adoption can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000. Many agencies will be able to provide you with a fee schedule that starts with an application payment and includes installments at important intervals, such as home study completion and referral acceptance. Be wary of institutions that can’t give you a detailed explanation of costs up front.
Agency fees include costs for a home study and lawyer fees to complete the adoption. You may also be asked to cover medical fees, housing, or travel expenses for the birth mother. Counseling and prenatal care are all part of the process for women who are making an adoption plan for their unborn children.
If you choose to adopt privately through a lawyer rather than an agency, expect to spend somewhere between $10,000 and $30,000. Private adoption usually takes around two years, although you could get a placement sooner. Fees for home-studies, birth mother reimbursement, and legal paperwork are similar to those of a domestic agency, and closed adoptions are available.
Help With Costs
How much does adoption cost?
While the fees for a private adoption may seem overwhelming at first, keep in mind that there is a lot of financial assistance available for prospective adoptive parents. Many find that the adoption tax credit made it much easier for them to afford adoption.
The tax credit for adoption as of 2018 is $13,840 per child. It can be applied toward any adoption-related expenses, such as agency payments, legal fees, travel, and home studies. The tax credit is money that you will not have to pay in income taxes once you have completed your adoption. You have up to five years after the adoption to claim the full amount of your credit.
In order to be eligible for the full tax credit, your combined household income needs to be less than $207,140. If it is between $207,140 and $247,140, you are eligible for a portion of the credit. Above $247,140, you can no longer claim the adoption tax credit.
In addition to the tax credit, many companies will give families a flat fee per child when they adopt. Ask your HR department or supervisor about the benefits available to you.
A third way that many couples make adoption affordable is through grants. This adds a little extra paperwork to your adoption journey, but it pays off when you can bring your child into your family.
Many prospective adoptive parents long to give a home to a child with little opportunity.
Adopting internationally can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000. The agency and home study fees associated with domestic adoption also apply to international agencies. In addition, there are traveling and lodging fees associated with international travel that make it more expensive than working within the country.
The adoption tax credit, employer assistance, and grants available to families adopting domestically can also be applied toward international adoption.
How Much Does Adoption Cost?
So, how much does adoption cost? Fees vary greatly depending on the way you choose to adopt, but when you are providing a loving home to a child in need, it is worth every penny.