What Does it Cost: Adoption

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Whether you're interested in a domestic or international adoption, you'll come across many costs that can depend on the route you take for the process. For example, you'll need to complete a home study to evaluate your suitability as an adoptive parent as well as incur various fees that can cover travel, health care expenses, applications, legal paperwork and agency services. Generally, you'll pay the least when adopting domestically through foster care, while adopting with an agency domestically and internationally costs the most. Take a look at the typical price ranges for different options so that you know what to expect.

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Exploring Costs for Domestic Adoption

When adopting domestically, you might work with a private adoption agency that can help you both find a child and handle the whole adoption process, and fees can vary widely depending on the agency and pricing system used. It's common to pay between ​$20,000 and $45,000for this method, but some adoption agencies can charge as much as ​$60,000​. Generally, expect to pay the most when you choose a full-service agency. Also, know that some agencies charge based on a sliding scale that goes by your income or charge based on the time it takes to complete the adoption process.

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Another route you can take involves working directly with the birth parents and an attorney to arrange the adoption. While it takes more work, this route can cost less than doing so through an agency and runs ​$10,000 to $15,000​ on average, but your costs could run up to ​$40,000​. While you won't have to pay any adoption agency fees, you usually still incur expenses such as the home study, legal fees, health care for the birth mother and help from a social worker to facilitate the process.

If you adopt through your state's foster care system, you can end up not paying much money at all since this route often includes the home study at no cost, and families can get financial assistance for other common expenses like legal fees. This route can avoid agency fees as with adopting through an agency as well as costs for the birth mother's medical care as with private adoption. However, those adopting through foster care may enlist a private agency to help with the process for a fee. For example, Adoptions Together charges ​$10,970​ for the service.

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If adoption costs seem outside your budget, you have options ranging from assistance programs to loans to consider.

Considering Costs for International Adoption

Due to the legal complexities involved with international adoption, you'll usually go through an approved agency, and you may end up paying slightly more than you would when adopting domestically in some cases. Not only is this due to the typical need to travel and pay fees for agency programs, but there's also a lot of legal paperwork both in the child's country and the United States to complete. This also includes costs for the visa and citizenship processes. Often, the paperwork needs to be translated too, which leads to more fees.

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According to KVC Kansas, the total cost for international adoption can range from ​$15,000 to $50,000​. The country you're adopting from will affect your pricing. For example, international adoption expenses (excluding travel) tend to run less in countries such as India, Taiwan and Columbia than they do in other places such as China and Haiti. The fees may run from ​$21,000 to $38,000​, and then you'll need to add on your travel costs such as airfare, lodging and ground transport for each international visit.

Getting Help With Adoption Costs

If adoption costs seem outside your budget, you have options ranging from assistance programs to loans to consider. First, you might opt for the less expensive methods such as using an agency with a sliding scale or adopting through foster care. You might find grants through charities or governments, ask whether your employer offers help with adoption costs or choose to raise funds through a crowdfunding platform. Your loan options can include taking out personal loans and borrowing against your home's equity.

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While it won't provide assistance upfront, the nonrefundable adoption tax credit can offer some relief the following year when you file your taxes. If you adopt in 2021, you could get as much as ​$14,440​ back when you file your tax return in 2022. Taking advantage of this credit may help you pay back any adoption loans you took out.

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