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If you're considering adoption as a way to grow your family, it's important to know that child adoption costs can vary. While evaluating local schools and transforming your home to welcome a new family member are step-by-step tasks, direct costs associated with adoption can be a more fluid part of the overall process.

To help you establish a budget for your impending adoption, it can help to understand the typical expenses. With these costs in mind, you can create a plan of action that best suits your desires and budget — adoption doesn't have to be an overly expensive endeavor.

Average Child Adoption Costs

There are three common ways to pursue adopting a child in the United States: foster adoption, private (attorney) adoption, and agency adoption. According to the most recent Adoptive Families' 2016-2017 annual study, here are the average child adoption costs for each of these adoption paths:

  • Foster adoption (also known as waiting child adoption): $2,938
  • Private attorney adoption (newborn): $37,829
  • Agency adoption (newborn): $43,239

It's common for families who wish to adopt a newborn to consider an agency or private attorney adoption. Many of the fees associated with those two types of adoptions include agency fees, attorney fees, advertising expenses to locate a birth mother, costs for the birth mother's care and travel, as well as home study fees (site visits to your home and interviews to ensure home suitability).

For families considering a child that is not a newborn, child adoption costs can decrease significantly by adopting a child in foster care. Many state agencies cover some or all of the costs of home study, potentially reducing adoption costs by hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Adopting through foster care also makes prospective families eligible for a subsidy from the state which can be used to cover the child's expenses.

The Child Welfare Information Gateway offers a helpful guide to educate families on the different types of child adoption costs through both private adoption and public agencies.

Paying for Adoption Expenses

As you talk through your adoption decision with loved ones, family, and friends, you'll most likely find yourself in a conversation about how you'll pay for child adoption costs. The good news is that there are many avenues available to help you bring a child into your home through adoption.

First, public assistance is always available when adopting a child through public agencies. The costs of adopting a waiting child are minimal compared to private and attorney options. Adoptive families can expect a monthly check for expenses. State or other public agencies also absorb many of the costs that a private or attorney adoption would typically incur. If you're considering adopting a child with special needs, additional financial support is usually available.

For all types of adoption, many employers offer adoption assistance plans. These plans typically operate on reimbursement. Once your adoption is complete, you can submit expenses to an employer plan for a lump sum reimbursement. As you research adoption, don't forget to ask your employer whether they offer these benefits.

Many prospective adoptive parents cover the cost of adoption through their savings, but oftentimes, additional financing is needed. With the right credit score, soon-to-be parents may also use a personal loan which wouldn't require collateral.

IRS tax credits are also available; for 2018, the maximum benefit was $13,810 per child, subject to income limitations. You can speak with your tax professional about how much tax credit you'd qualify for based on your income level.

Finally, you don't want to forget about the additional costs of welcoming a child into your home and raising them as your own. Set a budget and plan for daycare, school, healthcare, extracurricular activities, and more. These factors are all part of the joy of adopting a child and making your home their home.

This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

By selecting any external link on, you will leave the KeyBank website and jump to an unaffiliated third-party website that may offer a different privacy policy and level of security. The third party is responsible for website content and system availability. KeyBank does not offer, endorse, recommend or guarantee any product or service available on that entity's website.

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