The Cost in Adoption


As an adoptive mom, often I am asked about the reason for the costs in adoption.  The fees for a private, domestic or international adoption can be somewhere between $10-50, 000.  Those numbers can seem intimidating, but they start to make sense, as you break down all of the details involved.  Here are some of the things that go into those big numbers.

You must pay for a social worker to write a report about your family after oodles of paperwork and multiple visits that will be submitted to the State to approve you as an adoptive family.  That paperwork will need to be supported by things like fingerprints, and original birth & marriage certificates.  She will also come back multiple times after the child is home to make sure the transition is going well.  There are administrative costs on all ends for document storage, photocopies, notaries, postage, phone bills and the like.  Translating and authenticating your documents will be added if you are going overseas. The fees also cover prenatal care/nutrition, maternity clothes, OB appointments, neonatal care, the baby’s hospital care & doctors (or orphanage care internationally) and counseling for the birthmother, both before and after delivery.  Everyone involved also gets a salary including the agency workers, lawyers, assistants, social workers, and counselors.  Agencies also advertise their services through billboards, websites and print. These are the ones you’ve seen that let birthmothers know there is a safe place for them if they choose adoption.  The adoptive family absorbs all of this.

That list and the fees associated with it can seem overwhelming and impossible.  However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.  Whether through adoption or biology, all babies cost money to come home to their families. If you know this is how you are to grow your family, the resources will be provided.   Maybe your family is supposed to adopt through the foster care system. The costs are very low through the State.  There are also donation drives, grants, no-interest loans, family gifts, car washes, garage sales and fundraisers you can do.  You may remember from last year that we did a pendant drive to offset some of our costs? It can be done.  Sometimes we just need to think creatively outside the box to help bring a precious child home forever.


Cate Johnson has been married to her best friend, Sean, for 10 years.  She is the mother to their three Haitian princesses who came home forever in 2008 and is currently in the process of adopting a son domestically.  She is passionate about Jesus, adoption, and attachment.  She also loves coming alongside prospective adoptive parents as well as those struggling through transition and attachment. Cate blogs about all of these topics and more at Gathered From Afar and Attaching Hearts.



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Cate Johnson
Cate Johnson has been married to her best friend, Sean, for 12 years. She is the mother to their daughters who came home through international adoption in 2008. They also have a son that came home through domestic adoption in March 2011. The baby is another son, who is biological. Cate is passionate about Jesus, photography, writing and adoption and attachment. She also loves coming alongside prospective adoptive parents as well as those struggling through transition and attachment. Cate blogs about all of these topics and more at Gathered From Afar and Attaching Hearts.


  1. As a local adoptive mom, I really do think the costs are crazy. We did our adoption privately, did all our own advertising (our birth parents found us through a website we built ourselves – probably all of $20 associated costs), we only used an agency for our certification ( one visit for the interview, one for the follow up post-placement), two attorneys and a lot of creative advertising of our own. We had no medical costs as AHCCCS picked up all the costs for our daughter and her birthmother. Our birthparents didn’t want a single penny (and would actually argue with us to try to pay the tab when we’d go out to eat – we could not have more amazing birthparents). Not a single complex issue, smooth and simple, and really only a handful of the expenses on your list. Still came to almost $20,000. It’s really crazy. Thankfully the adoption tax credit will return some of that to us, but my mind spins when I think what a complicated adoption with birth parent expenses and medical care would add up to, and the price of failed adoptions, that I’ve watched friends go through, who are still spending money, and still waiting to adopt. It’s a challenging path no doubt. But, it’s one I’m so thankful we went on. We were beyond blessed, and had a beautiful, healthy and happy newborn in our arms in less than nine months from the day we started the process. I just wish it could be so simple for everyone, because I know the journey is a much longer one for most.

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