What I Spent to Adopt My Child

Three families share their adoption stories, illuminating the variety of choices — and costs — involved in the process.

 

This piece is part of “The Price of Modern Parenting.” Read about the sandwich generation, caring for aging relatives and out-of-pocket expenses for preterm births.

Each adoption process shares the same ultimate purpose: to unite children who need families with those that want children. Yet, despite this common goal, the price tag of adoption in the United States varies widely.

The cost depends on what path you choose: If adopting through the public foster care system, your total out-of-pocket expenses can be next to nothing. If you hope to adopt a newborn, however, the cost can reach $45,000 or sometimes higher if you’re adopting from outside the country.

There are two main paths to adopt an infant in the United States: through a lawyer, often referred to as an “independent adoption,” or through an agency. An independent adoption can cost $15,000 to $40,000, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a federal service. These fees typically cover a birth mother’s medical expenses, legal representation for adoptive and birth parents, court fees, social workers and more. Prospective parents will also be responsible for finding a birth mother, a process that can involve advertising on websites and in print ads. “Fees can be from several hundred for low-cost advertising up to tens of thousands of dollars,” said Colleen Quinn, a private adoption attorney working in Virginia.

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