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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 type you choose to pursue; whether that’s:

  • Private/domestic adoption

  • International adoption

  • Foster care adoption

The costs of adopting will vary for each method because they have their own unique adoption services and benefits for adoptive families. Understanding the different costs of adopting and the services your money goes toward is essential to choosing the best type of adoption for your family.

Let's dive deeper into the varying costs of adopting. To get more information about American Adoptions' current cost estimates for adoptive families, you can get free information now when you call us at 1-800-ADOPTION

Prospective birth parents searching for information on financial assistance for choosing adoption can fill out our free contact form to connect with an adoption professional today.

The Costs of Adopting Privately/Domestically

Private adoption refers to the adoption of infants when their birth parents voluntarily place them for adoption. 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. But be wary, advertising without a licensed professional may be illegal in your state.

A full-service agency gives an honest and transparent cost based on assessing your needs. The adoption fees and costs will vary based on your specific situation.

Because you deserve to work with the best adoption professionals, American Adoptions promises to give clarity to your adoption costs. Our services and support make it worth every penny.

With us, 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 matching services, education opportunities, 24/7 counseling for prospective birth parents and many more benefits other agencies don’t include in their fees or don’t offer at all.

  • Risk-Sharing ProgramIn 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. You can call us today at 1-800-ADOPTION or fill out our free online contact form to get more information on our adoption costs.

The Costs of Adopting Internationally

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 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. A couple of reasons for the decline are because of changes in foreign government policy and from the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

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: $26,000 – $31,000 + travel

  • Haiti: $26,000 – $32,000 + travel

  • South Korea: $32,000 – $38,000 + travel

  • Taiwan: $22,000 – $27,000 + travel

  • Uganda: $24,000 – $30,000 + travel + cost of living in Uganda to foster the child for one year.

Average Individual Costs of International Adoption

  • Agency Fees/Program Application: $14,181

  • Major Travel Expenses: $8,210

  • In-Country Adoption Expenses: $6,412

  • In-Country Travel Expenses: $2,234

  • Dossier Preparation and Clearance: $1,818

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

*Each cost an average of China, Ethiopia, South Korea and Ukraine from 2018-2019.

The Costs of Adopting through Foster Care

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 is still a chance that the child may eventually reunite with their biological family or become ineligible for adoption.

But, every year thousands of families reach out to children in need of permanent homes. In the U.S., there are around 437,000 children in the foster care system, and depending on your state, there are hundreds of children ready for adoption today.

Adoptive Families Magazine found the following about foster care adoption:

Average Costs of Foster Care Adoption

  • Home study fee: $231

  • Attorney fees: $1,573

  • Travel expenses: $342

  • All other expenses: $598

The average total cost of foster care adoption is around $2,744.


These figures are just a snapshot of the average costs of adopting through each method. To determine which option is best for you and your family, continue your research into each type of adoption, as well as into several adoption professionals within each type of adoption.

To learn more about American Adoptions’ costs and benefits, you can call us at 1-800-ADOPTION to get free adoption information today.

If you're a prospective birth parent needing information on adoption costs, you can fill out this online form to speak to one of our adoption specialists today.

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

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