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Crafting Your Adoption Budget

Discovering all the potential expenses that go into adoption can be overwhelming. For one, there is no set price. It varies greatly depending on the state and the specific adoption. There are many different kinds of expenses associated: legal, medical bills, travel, and so forth. All of this, then, is contingent on the type of adoption as well – domestic vs. international, public vs. private, etc.

To counteract this stress, carefully plan ahead and diligently research to ensure you’ll have enough money set aside.

Legal Fees

Adoptive parents have several different routes in which to adopt – agencies, attorneys or foster care. Each of these options has its own set of pros and cons, so further exploration is recommended as prices vary. Getting price estimates from separate attorneys and agencies can be a good idea for a baseline here.

Out of the three, the least expensive choice is adopting through foster care. As these are generally funded by the state, there is little to no cost. For instance, a local foster care adoption can cost $2,000, excluding potential travel expenses for visitation and bounding before the adoption is finalized. If adoptive parents work with a private agency, they may need to pay the out-of-pocket expenses. However, those can usually be reimbursed through the Adoption Tax Credit. To learn more, speak to your tax professional. There are state and federal programs, including monthly living stipends, available for those who qualify.

Fees with adopting through agencies and attorneys can vary from state to state, and, sometimes, from case to case. So, it’s good to know what all is included in their prices, and what all you’ll be responsible for. Generally speaking, adoptive parents pay for the home studies, post placement supervisory visits, travel, and legal counsel sessions for both them and the birth parents.

Overall, the average of adopting a child internationally is $42,000, while adopting a U.S. newborn is about $37,000. In some cases, again depending on where you live, there are sliding fees available.

Birth Mother Expenses

In most states, adoptive parents are allowed to provide to pay for expenses relating to the birth mother. This can start when the birth mother enters her last trimester and go up through the first two to eight weeks following the child’s birth. Attorneys are good resources to speak with when arranging what specific things should be covered. Everything should be clearly outlined beforehand as some states have criminal statues prohibiting anything that could be interpreted as “baby-buying.” In those cases, an approved court order may need to be obtained beforehand.

On average, adoptive parents can expect to pay about $3,400 for items including: maternity clothes, food, transportation, rent, and medical care. Pre-natal care and hospital costs fall under this last category. Even though the adoptee’s hospital stay will be covered under the adoptive parents’ medical coverage, the birth mother’s stay will not. Any recommended testing or special appointments are also the adoptive parents’ responsibility.

There is one aspect that is essential to highlight here. Adoptive parents should not expect to recover any of the above payments – even if the adoption falls through. All funds provided to the birth mother are considered a gift.

Miscellaneous Costs

Let’s not forget the basic expenses associated with raising the child, and preparing your home for their arrival. Things such as: bedroom furniture, toys, clothes, food, and so forth. These need to go into the budget planning. Then there’s travel. Trips to and from the hospital will undoubtedly need gas and money for potential hotels reservations.

Financial Assistance

To ease the financial stress of adoption, fundraisers can be a good option. In addition to more traditional methods, the website “GoFundMe” is growing in popularity. This allows adoptive parents to share their story and receive support to raise funds.

Loans are another available option. While the idea of borrowing money can seem risky, if there’s a solid plan in place, adoptive parents will be able to pay everything back quickly depending on the type of loan. If there’s a concern about insurance rates, taking an amount out of your 401k may be worth considering.

Other areas to explore are employee and military benefits. More and more, today’s employers are offering adoption benefits alongside paid and unpaid leave. On top of this, employers may provide adoption education and offer support networks into their employee assistance programs. So, be sure to check with your HR representative on this. Same with active military members. Be sure to check if you qualify for financial reimbursement for certain adoption expenses before the adoption is finalized.

There are also a variety of grants available. Some are need-based, or take into consideration religious affiliation, status, etc. However, adoptive parents must first complete the home study portion and must be determined to carry out the rest of the adoption before qualifying. They are not able to use the grants to cover any past expenses or start-up money.

Crafting Your Budget

Careful planning and research will help you craft a solid and realistic adoption budget. Spreadsheets come in handy here. Once you have all the information you need, stick to it the best you can. This will ensure success, and avoid denting your savings account and racking up credit card debt.

Yes, adopting a child is expensive. But – the moment you get to hold your child, all of that fades away. It makes everything worth it.

About the Author

Rachel RobertsonRachel Robertson is a published journalist, book editor, certified Publishing Specialist, and aspiring novelist. She graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) in March 2011, having found her writing voice within the Creative Nonfiction genre and grew to work as a freelance book editor for small presses all across the United States.

In June 2018, she embarked on an internship with Virginia Frank and came on board with Adoption Choices Inc., Not for Profit 501(c)(3), in December 2018. Between her mutual passion with adoption and surrogacy, and her own personal history with adoption, Rachel is excited to research and share topics each week that will spread awareness and better serve the faithful patrons of Adoption Choices Inc.

When Rachel isn’t haunting her local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, she’s avidly pouring over her Writer’s Digest subscription or cozying up with a cup of tea and book. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved wife and Border Collie.



“Adoption Budget Checklist for Prospective Parents.” Adoptive Families, 14 Mar. 2017,

“Adoption Costs: 5 Things to Know.” Experian, 5 Sept. 2018,

“How to Adopt a Waiting Child from the U.S. Foster Care System.” Adoptive Families, 4 Dec. 2017,

“How To Afford Your Adoption.” Adoption Network, Adoption Network Law Center – Safer Than Adoption Agencies,

“How Much Does It Cost To Adopt A Child.” Adoption Network, Adoption Network Law Center – Safer Than Adoption Agencies,

National Adoption Center. Philadelphia, PA. “Financing an Adoption.” FAQs | National Adoption Center,

“Planning a Domestic Adoption Budget: Cost Breakdown.” Adoptive Families, 18 July 2017,

“What Is the Cost of Adoption from Foster Care?” California Foster Care and Adoption – AdoptUSKids,

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