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 2007 and 2008, the cost of adoption uncertainties, and more.

How much did adoptions cost in 2007 and 2008? More than 1,000 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 total expenses were about $25,000 to $30,000.

    Financial uncertainties of adoption
    29% of domestic adoptive parents had a false start before adopting successfully. Of those, 71% 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, 66% say unsuccessful attempts cost less than $5,000.

    Travel costs helped push up the totals for international adoptions. Russia and Guatemala were again the most expensive of the top five sending countries.

    Readers share fundraising and cost-cutting tips
    We asked AF readers who recently adopted, or are in the process, for their best strategies on cost-cutting and creative funding:

    Creative Funding Strategies
    "As soon as our first adoption was finalized, we began saving for our second. We're currently waiting, and we hope to have saved most of the money we'll need by the time we get our referral." --Sandi and C.J. van Everdingen

    "I'm using a home equity line of credit, which I will pay off as soon as I get my Adoption Tax Credit next year." --Kim

    "Since I'm going to be a single mom, my parents decided to give me my 'wedding fund.' They figured if this is the man (if it's a boy) I want to spend the rest of my life with, it fits the need..." --Julie Schneider

    "We sent a letter to friends and family, and received many generous donations." --Tim and Natalie Gibson

    "In the past, I sold scrapbooking and card-making supplies. For this adoption, I'm raising funds by embroidering bibs, burp rags, and bags." --Julie Richter

    "We applied for and received a low-interest loan from the National Adoption Foundation (which we'll pay off with the adoption credit), and we deposited any rebates, bonuses, or monetary gifts into a separate savings account. It also helped that our homestudy and other fees were on a sliding scale." --Erin Armstrong

    "We held a fundraiser called 'Bottles of Love.' We decorated baby bottles, placed a small note in each one explaining that we were adopting and any donations would be appreciated, and displayed them at local businesses. It was a fun way to involve the community." --Dean and Traci Torgerson

    Cost-Cutting Tips
    "We used for our trips to meet the birth family, as well as several car rental discount websites. We cashed in American Express miles and Marriott points for airfare and hotels. We also chose suite hotels, where breakfast was included or discounted, and packed lunch and snacks to take on the flights." --Lisa Gillies

    "It came in handy that we have a friend who's a notary!" --The Raby Family

    "We were able to stay with relatives while waiting for the ICPC to go through." --Mary Beth Bochner

    "Eating out less often, packing our lunches, and borrowing DVDs from the library, instead of renting or buying them, amounted to $500 a month in savings. We also found our birthmother via word of mouth, rather than advertising, and that saved a ton." --Regina Brown

    "We traveled to Russia on Lufthansa, because they offer a discount adoption rate." --Debbie Blicher

    "We penny-pinched on everything. I became an avid coupon clipper, and saved close to $40 per supermarket trip!" --Kim Nyenhuis

    "When we visited the birthmother, we stayed in hotels that offered free breakfasts (and had microwaves in the rooms for heating up meals from the grocery store). Many hotels offer adoption discounts if you'll be staying a long time. We recommend asking for discounts in person." --Debbie and Jim

    "My husband went to China while I stayed home with our five-year-old. The best part of this arrangement is the special bond my daughter has with her father. It's a beautiful thing to see." --Cindy McDonnell

    "We stopped adding to our retirement account for a year." --Dawn

    "You'd be surprised at how many great items (many with the tags still on them) you can find at garage sales. We shopped them for toys and clothing for our child and for donations to the orphanage." --Loren Gifford-Skizim

    "We adopted through foster care, and it didn't cost us a dime! I know this route isn't for everyone, but more people should consider it. Adoption does not have to be expensive. Thousands of children (and, yes, some are healthy infants), are waiting all around this country." --Kim Blackford

    "We represented ourselves in court. Honestly, if you can successfully complete the mounds of paperwork that lead up to a baby being placed in your arms, completing the finalization paperwork is a piece of cake (in New Jersey, at least)!"
    --Robyn Shumer

    "We did it the old-fashioned way. We lived on one income, and put the other salary straight to the adoption. We also used our credit card on most purchases, to earn skymiles." --Samantha Harris

    Find more reader tips for savvy traveling at

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