Adoptive Families, the award-winning national adoption magazine, is the leading adoption information source for families before, during, and after adoption.


Cost of Adoption Update

A comparison of costs for domestic and international adoptions in 2006 and 2007, the cost of adoption uncertainties, and more

How much did adoptions cost in 2006 and 2007? More than 1,500 AF readers completed our survey on the cost of adoption—thanks to everyone for their valuable input!

Here's a breakdown of the total cost of adoption, before adoption-related employee benefits or tax credits:

  • Domestic adoptions, on average, cost less than international adoptions.

  • For most adopters, the average "cost" of an adoption was about $20,000-$25,000.

    Financial uncertainties of adoption
    38% of domestic adoptive parents had a false start, or worked with one or more birthmothers before a match that succeeded. Of those, 75% say unsuccessful attempts cost the family less than $5,000.

    of international adoptive parents had one or more unsuccessful attempts, which might include switching countries or declining a referral. Of those, 51% say unsuccessful attempts cost less than $5,000.

    Travel costs helped push up the totals for international adoptions; Russia and Guatemala rank as the most expensive countries for overseas adoption.

    Affording adoption travel
    Need help with expenses? We asked our AF reader panel to share tips for saving on travel, which is often the biggest adoption expense, given multiple or extended trips to a destination, domestic or international. Here are your suggestions:
    • Ask airlines and hotels about discounts. “When booking our flight, we told the ticket agent that we would be flying back with a baby we were adopting, and got half off the ticket for our daughter,” says Cecy, of Ohio. “While in Nevada, I explained to a hotel manager that we had to stay until the state released us to take our daughter home, and this could be 10 days or more. They discounted our room for the entire stay.”

    • Look into local accommodations. “If you’re traveling overseas, stay at a small bed and breakfast or guest house. Many parents stay at ‘Western’ hotels, which are nice, but pricey,” says Samantha, of North Carolina. “B&Bs are often cheaper, and you’ll see more local culture. Experience the country you are in—don’t pick up your child and go home."

    • Limit the number of travelers. Melissa, of Illinois, says, “My husband and I traveled alone, leaving our sons with relatives, to save on the cost of tickets.”
    Find more reader tips for savvy traveling at

    Stay tuned to
    for our 2008 poll, where you can help AF compile the most up-to-date data on adoption.

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    Please be wary of adopting from the foster care system. I was a foster parent for a newborn African-American baby girt (she came to me right out of the hospital) I am a caucasian female. The L.A. County Department of Social Services is not only inept, but engages in systematic racism and fraud. I had the baby for 7 months and was a stellar foster parent. I had three different social workers and the baby had three different attorneys during that time. The first two social workers told me I would likely be able to adopt, as the parents were homeless and unable to care for the baby. Paternal relatives were contacted early and did not want to take her. When the third social worker was assigned to my case (after about 5 months) the whole plan changed, as she had an agenda that did not include biracial adoption. She strung me along and lied about her case plan while putting heavy pressure on a paternal aunt who did not want the baby. AFter 7 months of being this baby's only parent, she was taken abruptly from my home without even meeting the aunt prior to being placed with her. This violated my rights and the baby's rights. I am a master's level, licensed clinical social worker who works in a different court system. even with my knowledge and clinical training no one in the system would listen to me, including administrators in dcfs and the judge. The baby ended up in another state with a convicted felon. I had to hire my own attorney to get her back in the state. The worker then placed her again with the aunt who sent her out of state! As far as I know she is being bounced around to various relatives, while the court is allowing the aunt to adopt her "on paper." It is the most heartbreaking thing that ever happened to me. Beware! I am now considering private non-profit adoption and it will be worth every penny to know I have ethical trained professionals helping me.

    Posted by: sandy Foster at 9:26pm Oct 12

    I just wanted to post because of all of the people talking about adopting through foster care. I believe expanding your family through this route is a wonderful thing, but people need to be aware of what they are getting into when they consider this more affordable option. It can be an emotional nightmare. I'm not sure about other states, but I do know that in Texas they are very stringent on who can adopt through the foster care system. You have to take 40 hours of Pride classes, have your house inspected by the fire marshal along with many other things....which is all great but very frustrating at times. My husband and I did all the hoop jumping asked of us and when we got to the point of having our homestudy done and being approved we found out that we ran a high chance of raising a child for up to two years and then loosing them to the birth family. The main goal of the foster care system is not to take children away from parents but to reunite them if the home life returns to a safe place. I've known two separate coworkers that learned this the hard way. Both had newborns placed with them shortly after birth and were told the likelihood of the birth family reclaiming their child was very slim. Susan raised her little girl for 18 months when the courts took her away and gave her back to her birthfamily. And Michelle received a phone call on her little girls 2nd birthday stating that the birth mother had cleaned up her life and wanted her daughter back. They went through a very expensive court battle and ended up loosing the daughter they had raised from birth. When my husband and I heard these stories I asked the social worker we were working with and she confirmed that it does happen more then you think. We could specify we only wanted a child whose parental rights were already legally terminated, but that could take a long time for an infant or toddler, unless they are special needs (which right now we can not do). So we are now going down the adoption road through a non-profit agency and our adoption cost will be around $18,000. Which we are more then willing to pay in order to guarantee us that the child we raise will be our forever child. If you go through an agency, please make sure you find out if the cost they quote you is the total cost......many give a low estimate and if you end up having a failed adoption you have to start over.....that is where it can get pricey. But what ever road you go down do your research and just remember that you are not BUYING or PAYING for a child......they are not a car.......they are precious little lives that you are willing to invest your heart, home and finances into in order to make a loving family. Good Luck!

    Posted by: Melissa at 1:45pm Oct 16

    I am a grandmother who had a grandson in dependency. He was a very adoptable child and nine months old. Very cute. I want to share this side of the story. When they took him, they had every intention of adopting him out for the title IV money. I turned in all the background info and they sat on it then they tol me they couldn't find it. I had to go do the background checks again and they never called when the results came in. Meanwhile I was trying to get visitation and they told me I had no rights. I ended up picketing to get my paperwork turned in and obtain some visitation. It worked sort of. We had to get a home study done through court order. By this time they had my grandson five months. The homestudy worker lied throughout the homestudy and tried to force me to build a fence then denied me based on the lies she told. It was my word against hers and I had no recourse. And you know what....they did this to one of their own. I was a state certified chemical dependency counselor who once worked in family court. I became an activist. I am now a registered lobbyist in the State of Washington. My grandson is now back home in in-home dependency but I cannot even begin to tell you what I had to go through to get that accomplished. Know this-that every foster child has a story and it is not always the story that you are told by DSHS. Nor is it always true that extended family do not want the child. They are screening them out left and right with false accusations and petty reasoning. The child you adopt out of foster may have a trail of tears following that only God himself knows because I can tell you this, you will not get the straight story from the baby thieving government. Those reimbursements are often paid for in part by the families who lose them through social security funding. What a travesty - to have false accusations, the loss of a child, and have to pay for it. On the other end of the spectrum, foster parents who are being used by the government to support their title IV robbery are often victims too. It is all a racket. Please don't support it. Jan Smith Washington State Extended Families

    Posted by: Jan at 9:48pm Nov 5

    Oh my God!!! All of you are the reason why foster care is no longer a safe place for a mother in need to place her child. I placed my daughters in foster care while dealing with a severe case of depresion after I gave birth. It took my longer than the 16 out of 24 months to even begin to put myself back together...The state of NE moved to terminate my rights on them grounds out of placement for to long..That was it... I never beat, abused, or neglected my girls. I was just in a bad place, and had little support from anyone. I chose to place my kids in foster care until I could get my mind right...They never came home again. The foster family adopted my girls and are good people, but my heart is broken forever. I am a good person and thought I was doing the right thing for my family at the time. Foster Parenting should not be looked at like a cheap way to get a baby..That is not what its intended to do ...And if any of you that see it that way ended up with my girls I would cry for them everyday. I am grateful that the people who adopted them entered the program to foster, and when asked if they wanted to adopt they thought about it because they did not think it was going to be an option. Babies should not be bought ..traded... or leased they should be loved and foster parents are only meant to do that until the mother or other family member can care for them WHENEVER that is possible.... These post make me sick and sad.. Sad that people out there are waiting to cause other people pain so they can be happy, and thinking thats a good way to become a parent

    Posted by: Denise Smith at 6:55pm Nov 17

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