Adoption Fees - Before Your Child Comes Home

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This broad, sometimes loosely defined term is used for the various costs of working with a public or private adoption agency, or with an attorney or other intermediary. The adoption fee should include the costs of doing a home study, pre-adoptive counseling, identifying a child for your family, placement fees, and post-placement visits. For an independent adoption, the birth mother's living and delivery expenses may be included or may be separate expenses. For an international adoption, the adoption fee may or may not include the costs of visas, dossier preparation, document translation, and other expenses unique to adopting children from other countries. Adoptions of waiting children through state or county agencies may incur only minimal costs and often are free of charge.

Fees charged by private adoption agencies and intermediaries can run from $5,000 to as high as $25,000, and possibly more. BE SURE you understand which services in the adoption process are included and which may be separate or additional fees.


During the adoption process, activities will arise that will result in out-of-pocket expenses. Although these costs usually are minor, it's best to be prepared for them. For example, consider the costs related to the following possible activities:
# traveling to and from the agency or lawyer's office
# completing and photocopying records and other paperwork
# taking time off work for interviews and so on
# obtaining shots, passports, etc., if international travel is necessary
# arranging for child care for any children you already have


Although the cost of the home study usually is included in the adoption fees, it can be a separate cost in some situations. For example, if you reside overseas, are doing an independent adoption, or have an independent professional (usually a licensed social worker) performing the home study but not the other pre- or post-placement services, the home study may be a separate cost. Some public agencies do charge for home studies, but some may reimburse you for that expense or have other methods to offset the expense when they place a child from their county or state with you. Depending on the agency, if this is a separate expense for you, a fee of $300 to $3,000 is not unusual.


These classes may be required as part of the adoption home study process. A registration fee to cover the costs of materials may be charged.


Home studies are considered current for a limited period of time, usually one or two years. In many states, courts want home studies updated after a year. Waiting for a child can take several years and thus the home study may need to be updated one or more times during the wait. You may want to adopt again after your first adoption is finalized and your home study will need to be updated, though if you choose to work with a different agency or wait several years to adopt again, you may have to start over completely. There will be an additional fee to update your home study, even if the cost of doing the original study was included in the adoption fee.


Sometimes adoptive parents must move as a result of a job transfer or military reassignment before completing the adoption process. In the best of situations, the adoption can be completed if your adoption agency is willing to collaborate with an adoption agency in your new location. Otherwise, you may have to start the adoption process all over again. In either case, new adoption expenses may be incurred. Adoption fees already paid to the original adoption agency often will not be refundable since that work has already been completed by the agency. If you're likely to have to move during the adoption process, you should clarify this in advance with the agency or adoption facilitator.

(For information about adopting if you live abroad, contact The Adoption Exchange at 1-800-451-5246 or and ask for their global connections guidebook. For more information about adopting if you're in the military, contact the Adoption Exchange Association at 1-303-322-9592 and ask for copies of their free military handbooks.)


Finding the child that is right for your family is so important to a successful adoption. Search costs for this process can vary widely depending upon your desires and situation. (See Kinds of Adoptions for more details.)
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