All The Costs You Need To Consider Before Deciding To Adopt

By | Wednesday, January 16, 2019

I’ve mentioned before on TFD, when talking about having a near-term goal for savings, that my husband and I are pursuing a private independent adoption. The process is going well, so far, and we’ve been enjoying getting to know what the process could look like from here on, but there are still more expenses than one might think. We’ve been saving up to be able to make this adoption work, and I’m confident that we will have enough money as long as our adoption doesn’t go through immediately after we complete our paperwork, but I think that it can be a daunting process for many people.

One of the reasons that private adoption is daunting is that the costs are relatively high. When most people see things like “private adoption can cost up to $40,000,” it is easy to immediately say “nope, I cannot afford a private adoption.” In truth, there are a variety of ways to make adoption more affordable (and most private agencies do not have a $40,000 fee), but there are smaller fees and costs along the way that it makes sense to budget for. Many couples and individuals pursuing adoption use a combination of savings, adoption grants, family support, employer assistance, and adoption loans to pay for their expenses. We learned from a friend who has already gone through the process that it is worthwhile to save all receipts in case we can submit them for reimbursement at some point in the future, either through an employee assistance program or to receive an adoption grant.

If you think you might want to adopt someday, but aren’t currently considering an adoption in the next year, think about starting a savings account specifically for adoption or for a child. Even if you choose not to adopt children in the future, this money will come in handy, but I can vouch for most adoptive parents, I think, in saying that they wouldn’t have minded beginning their savings a little earlier. After all, if you get quite a bit in the account, it starts earning interest, and every extra dollar helps! If you are in a position, perhaps in your early 20s, where you want a reason to save rather than just a general “emergency fund,” an adoption/child expenses fund can be one way to to describe your savings, even if you don’t end up needing it.

When researching, consider the fee schedule from the adoption agency, but then consider these other potential costs, to make sure you are fully budgeting for the upcoming expenses in your life. This list isn’t meant to scare you at all; when we started learning about these expenses, we felt closer to the process and more in control of what would happen next.

6 Potential Extra Expenses for Private Adoption

1. Background Checks 

It makes a lot of sense for an adoption agency to know any prior legal issues you’ve been in before they advocate on your behalf as a future parent. These checks require next-to-nothing as far as time goes (a quick fingerprinting appointment, for us) but may take quite a few weeks to arrive and cost us about $75 per person to get both state and federal checks finished. It is worthwhile to do them early and focus on other aspects of the process next.

2. Education/Training

There are online trainings that are legally required for foster care and for private adoption applicants. Ours cost about $100 per person, which isn’t much for educational coursework, honestly. The courses were really helpful to getting our “heads in the game,” so I’d recommend doing the required courses as well as any supplementary education available to you because of your adoption journey, since any extra information makes you more ready for what lies ahead!

3. Profile Design Services

Many adoption agencies rely on short documents called profiles to introduce potential birthparents to potential adoptive parents. These documents can be written by the adoptive parents, but they are an odd document to write, so many people get layout, editing, and even writing feedback from a profile writer/designer who has lots of experience with them. Given the odd nature of the documents, we chose to get help with layout and paid a friend to take some photos of us that had actual good lighting (our selfies over the years weren’t professional-grade), which in our case cost about $500.

4. Hotel Stays

These are some of the fees we haven’t encountered yet, but we just recently talked to a couple who had a month of hotel bills because they had to spend a month in a hotel as they awaited the birth and release of their adopted child (state borders complicate the process of adoption at times). Budgeting into your savings some serious buffer for living somewhere new for a little while during the adoption process is a definite good idea. We did learn, from this same couple, that it can’t hurt to mention that you are staying in a hotel because of adoption; there might be some kind of long-term stay discount available!

5. Travel Expenses 

Flights, gas, and, car maintenance are all facts of life when it comes to taking custody of an adopted child. While our agency works fairly locally, so we aren’t likely to rack up any airline costs, some agencies work nationally or internationally, and those costs are extensive. Make sure that you are budgeting as if such costs could come up, because you never want to have to say “no” to a match just because you haven’t planned for a long-distance adoption.

6. Medical Fees and Living Expenses 

If you are adopting an infant, like we are, there are ways in which medical expenses for the birth mother can be paid by the adoptive parents. Complications can arise in any pregnancy, so it is wise to have a buffer that can be spent on medical fees if needed. As soon as you match, you get more information on your state’s rules regarding cost sharing as well as the insurance situation of your birth mom, so you’ll have a clearer idea of the potential costs at that point, if there are some.


We began the process without all of these expenses saved up, knowing that we would continue to save as much as we can, and knowing that favorable interest rates are available for adoption loans. However, if you have the luxury of time before you plan to adopt, I definitely recommend stashing more cash in your savings account whenever you can; there are some stressful parts of adopting your child, but having the finances worked out and arranged ahead of time can really reduce some of the worries on your part.

Laura Marie is a writer and teacher in Ohio. 

Image via Unsplash

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