Is adoption expensive?

Yes, it is

Adoption fees have a wide range. Foster care adoptions are the least costly and can cost as little as a few thousand. But for most domestic or international adoptions, the fees generally range from $15,000-$50,000. Yes, $50,000! 

Prices fluctuate between agencies and countries quite a bit. Here's a graphic from adoptivefamilies.com showing adoption costs for survey respondents in 2007 & 2008.

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Here's the estimates for a South Korean adoption.Most adoptions are in the $12,000-$50,000 range whether you are adopting domestic or international. Yes, $50,000! There are less expensive options--foster adoptions can cost as little as $1000-2500.

Prices fluctuate between agencies and countries quite a bit. Here's the estimates for a South Korean adoption.

Agency application fees: between $200-$550
Fingerprinting & visas:  $1000
Home study fees: $2500-$5000
Program fee: $5000-$12,000
South Korea country fees: $14,000-17,000 (this pays for the birth, medical care and foster care of the
        babies until they are adopted)
Travel to bring baby home: $4,000-6,000

Our adoption will run about $35,000 if everything goes according to plan. Some countries are less expensive but the medical care for the children is much less. Other countries require numerous trips (Russia, Poland, Lithuania and Bulgaria require two trips to complete adoptions from their countries) or have extended in-country stays (Columbia and the Ukraine require 7-8 weeks in country to complete the adoption) so that runs up the cost quite a bit. There are also additional fees like lawyers fees, translation fees, dossier fees, or country-specific things like DNA testing.

All that being said, is adoption any more expensive than birthing children and raising them for the first year? Not at all. The only difference is that people who give birth to their children usually have handy-dandy insurance to pick up the tab. And because they are spending money gradually on diapers, formula, wipes, bottles, etc., the cost for caring for that wee one in the first months of it's life isn't as apparent.

Show me the money

I bet I know your next question. How do people pay for this? There are a few things parents do to help defray the costs.

Adoption Tax Credit: This is the biggest thing right now and can help with around $12,000 of the adoption costs. The tax credit is set to expire at the end of 2010. See our post "You can help us!" to learn how you can help ensure this tax credit is renewed to help families like ours. UPDATE: The tax credit has been temporarily extended through 2011 by slipping in a few lines in the health care bill. We still need to work with our representatives to help ensure the renewal of the credit beyond 2011.

Subsidies and Grants: There are funds available to help with costs associated with special needs children or those adopted from the foster system. There are also a few adoption grants available.

Employer contributions: Some companies have an adoption benefit for their employees, and/or they donate the time needed to travel for the adoption.

Credit cards: Unfortunate, but yes, some people put the fees on their charge cards.

Home equity loans: This is becoming a really popular option to finding the funds.

Fundraisers: Lots of folks have fundraisers. They sell items on line, at flea markets or hold rummage/bake sales.

No interest loans:  A few places will provide no-interest loans for adoptive parents.

Military Subsidies: This won't help us now, but for other folks it could!

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