The cost to adopt a child varies widely based on the type of adoption and the parties facilitating the placement. Families adopting a special-needs child from a public agency may be able to adopt at no cost at all, while parents adopting from a foreign country may pay more than $50,000. Although adoption can be costly, state and government agencies offer a number of grants, tax credits and financial assistance program to qualified families.
Domestic Public Agency Adoption
State child welfare agencies facilitate domestic public agency adoptions. This is the most cost-effective way to adopt a child. Adopting.org explains that the average domestic public agency adoption costs between zero and $2,500. These fees include home studies, legal costs and travel expenses. Because many adoptable children in state care have exceptional emotional or medical conditions, families may qualify for state and federal subsidies to offset their out-of-pocket adoption costs.
Domestic Private Agency Adoption
Domestic private agency adoptions can cost families from $4,000 to $30,000. The average cost in the $10,000 to $20,000 range, with only 2 percent of adoptions costing the family under $5,000, according to figures from a 2009-2010 survey cited in "Adoptive Families" magazine. These fees include agency expenses, home study costs and birth parent counseling and care. Adopting.org reports that some private agencies will adjust their fees based on the family's income.
Domestic Non-Agency Adoption
In a private parental placement adoption, families locate a birth family and coordinate the adoption without the assistance of an adoption agency. As the nonprofit group Families for Private Adoption notes, domestic non-agency adoptions cost, on average, between $10,000 and $15,000, but may be higher or lower depending on the complexity of the case. The costs of a non-agency adoption often include the adoptive family's legal fees, the birth parents' legal fees, the birth mother's uninsured medical expenses and the cost of counseling for the birth parents.
The cost of international adoptions varies by country. "Adoptive Families" reports that 42 percent of Russian adoptions cost between $40,000 and $50,000. Adopting from China, South Korea and Ethiopia is less costly, with more than half of all adopting families paying between $20,000 and $30,000. International adoption costs include travel expenses, visas for the parents and child, agency fees and legal expenses.