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Comparing the Costs of Domestic, International and Foster Care Adoption

Which Type of Adoption is Best for Your Family?

The amount of money you have budgeted for adoption could determine which method of adopting you choose to pursue: private/domestic adoption, international adoption or foster care adoption. Each has its own unique adoption costs and benefits for adoptive families.

Understanding the costs of each type of adoption and the services your money goes toward is essential to choosing the best method of adoption for your family.

Prospective birth mothers searching for information on costs for putting a child up for adoption can get connected with an adoption professional by filling out our free contact form. You can also learn about financial assistance for birth mothers choosing adoption.

For adoptive families, let's dig deeper into the costs of the different types of adoption. To get more information about American Adoptions' current cost estimates for adoptive families, request free information here

Private/Domestic Adoption

Private adoption refers to the adoption of infants who are voluntarily placed for adoption by their birth parents. There are two main types of private adoption for families to pursue: agency adoption and independent adoption.

Agency Adoption – An adoption agency completes the entire adoption process from beginning to end, including helping the family find the right adoption opportunity with a pregnant mother through advertising and networking.

Independent Adoption – The adoptive family independently finds a pregnant mother through advertising or networking and uses the services of an adoption agency and/or attorney to legally complete the adoption. 

When you choose a full-service agency to help you create the family you’ve always dreamed of having, you should be prepared to spend between $60,000-$70,000 or more for your entire adoption journey. Those numbers might sound like a lot at first, but when you factor in all of the services full-service agencies provide the prospective birth parents and hopeful adoptive families, we promise it’s worth every penny. With American Adoptions, your money is well spent and goes towards providing you with benefits such as:

  • Full-service. As a full-service adoption agency, your expenses will go towards all the useful resources we offer, such as 24/7 counseling for prospective birth parents, education opportunities, matching services, and many more that other agencies don’t include in their fees, or don’t offer at all.

  • Risk-sharing program. In the event of an adoption disruption, we will directly issue you a refund of the money you have spent on the adoption opportunity. Other adoption agencies don’t offer this kind of adoption insurance or, if they do, the money is rolled over until you find a different adoption opportunity with that agency. We give you your money back so that you can choose how you’d like to spend it moving forward.

  • National scope. Our status as a national adoption agency means we work with many prospective birth families at once from all over the country. This allows us to find you the perfect adoption opportunity in a shorter amount of time.

When you work with American Adoptions, we promise that you will always get what you pay for and we will do everything in our power to help you create the family of your dreams. And you can’t put a price on that.

International Adoption

International adoption, or intercountry adoption, refers to the adoption of a child from another country. While international adoption has similarities to private adoption, it also has its own unique steps and costs, including travel expenses, dossier authentication, and more.

International adoption used to be a popular way for hopeful parents to expand their families. However, the number of international adoptions has dropped dramatically in recent years. One reason for the decline is changes in foreign government policy, such as Russia’s ban on U.S. adoptions, which went from thousands in previous years to just 250 in 2013. Another reason is perhaps the increased costs of adopting from certain countries. International adoption also has much longer wait times. Domestic adoption can take up to one to two years in some cases, but with international adoption, that jumps to two to five years. There are also greater risks and more stern restrictions on who can adopt, depending on the country you are adopting from.

Average Total Cost of International Adoption by Country 

  • China: $36,441

  • South Korea: $48,329

  • Ukraine: $35,000

Average Individual Costs of International Adoption

  • Agency Fees/Program Application: $14,181

  • Dossier Preparation and Clearance: $1,818

  • In-Country Adoption Expenses: $6,412

  • Major Travel Expenses: $8,210

  • In-Country Travel Expenses: $2,234

  • Child’s Passport, Visa, Medical Exam: $816

*Each cost an average of China, Ethiopia, South Korea and Ukraine from 2012-2013

Foster Care Adoption

The least expensive method of growing your family through adoption is always going to be through your state’s foster care system.

Of course, foster care adoption isn’t for everyone and presents its share of challenges to adoptive families. If you’re fostering to adopt, there’s no way to know for sure whether or not the child will be reunited with their biological family or become eligible for adoption. However, every year thousands of families reach out to these special children in need of permanent homes. Adoptive Families Magazine found the following about foster care adoption:

Average Costs of Foster Care Adoption

  • Total Cost of Foster Care Adoption: $2,744

  • Home Study Fee: $231

  • Attorney Fees: $1,573

  • Travel Expenses: $342

  • All Other Expenses: $598


These figures are just a snapshot of the average costs of each type of adoption. It is important to continue your own research into each type of adoption, as well as into several adoption professionals within each type of adoption.

Please read the following to learn more about American Adoptions costs and benefits, or click the following to receive free adoption information.

If you're a prospective birth mother needing information on adoption costs, please fill out this online form to speak to a professional today.



Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.