The Cost of Adoption

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Adoption is costly. I didn’t know a whole lot about what went into the cost of adoption before we began pursuing it ourselves. The extent of my knowledge on the subject went back to a college sociology textbook that showed a huge cost difference between a white child and a black child (spoiler alert: not the case currently, race in no way factors into adoption costs). So, let’s break down the actual costs of adoption and run away from the pesky assumptions and misconceptions that are out there.

First off, let’s clarify: when adopting, you are not buying a child. You are paying for necessary services.

Initial Expenses: $5,807.34

As we began the adoption journey, we chose to pursue a domestic agency adoption by way of a consultant. A consultant works with multiple agencies, drastically decreasing the time you’ll be waiting to match with a child or children. When you work directly with an individual agency to match, you are limited to the parents they are representing. If they place 10 children a year, and there are 30 waiting families, you can see why it might take 1-3 years to adopt a child. By working with a consultant, we are able to present our adoption profile to many parents with agencies across the nation. We expect to match within 3 months!!!

This first month, we’ve completed our home study, gotten our background checks back, designed our adoption profile, and become match eligible!

  • Home Study: $2,711.00
  • Finger Printing: $45.00
  • Background Checks: $210.00
  • Consultant (including numerous agency application fees she covers): $2,500.00
  • Adoption Profile Proofing (I designed it myself and save some $$): $250.00
  • Printing/Shipping Profile: $91.34

It’s been a surprisingly fast process for us, though the loads of paperwork have been a full-time job for me.

Anticipated Costs: $40,000-$60,000

We’re now in the matching phase of our adoption journey. This means that as our consultant receives adoptive situations, she’ll pass them on to us. We typically learn the age, race, education, and medical history of the expectant parent/s. We’ll learn the race, gender, due date, birth state, and any medical concerns for the expected child. In some cases, children are placed for adoption after a parent has tried to provide for a time, so we’d be able to learn about a child or children (sibling group) being placed for adoption. We always see the expected adoptive cost.

When a parent chooses adoption, they meet with an agency who will walk them through the entire process and provide everything they need to have a safe, healthy, and ethical pregnancy, birth, and adoption.

The agency provides the staffing, administration, agency advertising, state and federal regulations, pre- and post- placement counseling (including all possible options for caring for their child), living expenses, medical expenses, legal representation, father search and communication when needed, health insurance, creation of a hospital plan, matching with an adoptive family, and help choosing the type of adoption they would like. This could be anywhere from 1-10 months of support that an expectant parent/s receive. 

Our consultant works with agencies who only match expectant parents when they are in their third trimester. This means that the first two trimesters are focused on the expectant parents. The agency will provide counseling, asking about their family’s views, whether they have support, if they would raise the child with the right resources, whether there is a someone in the family who would raise the child… If adoption is still the expectant parent/s best option, they will educate the mom (and dad, if present) on the types of adoption (open, semi-open, and closed), the steps involved, and finally the process of selecting a family for their child. While counseling is occurring, the agency is financially supporting the expectant mother to ensure she and her baby are in the best place possible. This includes ensuring she has housing, food, medical insurance and care, and appropriate planning and counseling for the adoptive process. By providing these extensive services, the agency helps to ensure the decision to adopt has been thought through, that the expectant parents have a healthy support system and counsel to process with, and that the adoption will go as smoothly as possible. Following birth, expectant parents may still change their mind, as is they’re right, but the likelihood drastically decreases when all possible scenarios have been discussed ahead of time. All of these services are necessary to help ensure a healthy, supportive, and ethical adoption.

Yes it’s expensive, but these expectant parents and children are worth it.

Below is just a sampling of the numbers we’ve seen through situations we’ve been presented with and online research:

  • Birth Mom Expenses (medical, living, pre- and post-placement counseling): $5,000 to $15,000
  • Agency Fees (which may or may not include the services below): $28,000-$40,000
  • Case Management Fees: $3,000
  • Legal Fees (vary by state): $1,500
  • ICPC Processing (interstate adoptions): $1,500
  • Birth Father Search (when necessary): $1,000
  • Legal Fees for Termination of Parental Rights: $3,200
  • ICWA Fees (when adopting a Native American child): $5,000

This is proof that you are not paying for a child. This is the cost of necessary services and staffing to legally and ethically adopt in the U.S.

Additional Expenses: $3,500-$6,550

Because we are adopting outside of our home state, we will be traveling to the expectant parent/s. After a child is born, there is a necessary time period the birth parents are required to wait before being able to sign over their parental rights. Typically this is 24-72 hours depending on the state. We will be required to stay in the state for up to 10 business days as the ICPA paperwork is processed in the birth state and our home state. As a result, we will be paying for travel, housing, car rental, and meals during this time period. At the time that the child/ren are placed with us, they are under our health insurance and we assume all medical bills. This has the potential to include NICU care, genetic testing, and the like. (Everything up to this point we will have already paid for in the Expectant Parent/s Expenses.)

  • Travel: $500-$2,000
  • Housing for up to 2 weeks: $1,000-$3,000
  • Car Rental: $1,000
  • Meals (we’re hoping to cook most of our meals in an extended stay hotel, but anticipate more costly meals amid travel, hospital stays, etc.): $300
  • Newborn Cares (we won’t be able to transport everything we’ll need depending on where and how we’re traveling, so we expect some crib rentals, diapers, and formula purchases): $250

These 2 weeks will be a necessary time to bond with our child/ren, adjust to our new lifestyle, begin creating a routine, and embrace these memories. It can become a tiring time of waiting to return home, but it is also a great time to establish our healthy, nurturing relationship with out kid/s!

In Conclusion: $49,300-$72,350

Yes, adoption is expensive. It may even seem crazy expensive, but it’s far from crazy. It is necessary! It is loving! It is compassionate! It is best for the expectant/birth parents and it is best for the child/ren. As a result, the cost of adoption is truly best for us as adoptive parents. We are willing to carry this financial burden because it is absolutely, 100% worth it. The expectant parents are worth it. The child or children are worth it. The health of our future family is worth it!

(I’ll be writing a future blog post on how we’re financing our adoption, including grants, zero interest loans, savings, fundraising, and the adoption tax credit.)

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We are Haley and James Earley, a family of two established on October 11, 2014 in our hometown of Rochester, MN and now living in St. Paul, MN. We are dog-lovers, coffee addicts, tree-huggers, balance-seekers, community-livers, and new foster parents. We live in a house of three adults, three dogs, and our sweet foster kiddos. We desire to slow down in this fast-paced world in order to pursue intentional community as we seek after the heart of God. We're just one couple trying to figure out this whole living life thing.

One thought on “The Cost of Adoption”

  1. Pingback: Funding our Adoption | Earley Birds

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