Why Is Adoption So Expensive?

I just wrote a large check for the next step in our adoption process. This is probably the last time we’ll be able to just write a check to cover the costs (unless some miraculous provision happens).

A lot of people have asked what it costs to adopt and a few people have been shocked and a bit miffed at the high price tag. It’s about equivalent to buying a new car. And considering we don’t have a second car, that works out pretty nicely. Let’s take a look at what it costs and why.

As a bit of a disclaimer, these are the numbers our agency currently has. These can vary by agency, and may be broken out differently.

Here’s the basic break down of costs for each program:

Domestic Adoption

  • Registration Fee – $45
  • Application Processing Fee – $500
  • Adoption Study Fee – $500-$3,000 (depending on income)
  • Processing and Placement Fee – $4,600
  • Domestic Infant Program Services Fee – $7,800
  • Foster Care (if applicable) – $1,000

Total: $13,445-16,945

International Adoption

  • Registration Fee – $45
  • Application Processing Fee – $500
  • Adoption Study Fee – $500-$3,000 (depending on income)
  • Processing and Placement Fee – $4,600
  • Country Program Costs – $4,000-22,500 (varies country to country)
  • Document & Travel Fees – varies

Total: $9,645-30,645 + documents & travel

Obviously international adoption can be pricey, especially since documents and travel aren’t accounted for (which could run another $10,000). One of the reasons it’s done so often over the comparatively cheaper domestic adoption is because the turn around time can be much faster.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the U.S. government offers a $10,000 tax credit for adoption. As I understand it, you can only claim it after the process is over, so you do need the cash up front. But that’s a nice bit of help.

So Why Does It Cost This Much?
A lot of people complain that this is a lot of money to pay for a child when you can just have one for free. And it is a lot of money. But the simple fact is that it’s not your child. Making it your child, fully and legally, is not a cheap process.

First off, the authorities involved need to be sure that adoptive parents are good parents. They need to weed out the people who will potentially be abusive or unable to provide for a child. They are placing this child in a home, and they have a duty to make sure it’s a good home. Figuring all of that out and double-checking it has a cost.

A few people have pointed out that nobody does background checks on parents giving birth, there’s no certification that natural parents have to go through. And that’s true. But that’s kind of an odd question. I can’t help but wonder if the people who ask that question want those kind of policies in place. Should we have an authoritarian system in place, one that would encroach on citizen’s rights even more so than China’s one-child policy? Starts to sound like 1984 or Brave New World.

With adoption there’s added responsibility. You are caring for someone else’s child, and they’re not just going to hand this child over to anyone.

Secondly, adoption requires a lot of legal hoops, and for good reason. A lot of what you’re paying for is the peace of mind that the child you adopt is now fully and legally yours. If you don’t follow all the proper legal procedures, if the birth mother isn’t fully aware of her rights, if she doesn’t sign the right documents or isn’t told the right thing at the right time, if you haven’t dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s than the new child you adopted could be taken away. A judge could declare the adoption null and void and you lose. How much would that suck?

Again, this all comes down to protection and fulfilling the sacred responsibility that comes with caring for someone else’s child. Imagine if you gave up your own child. Do you think you just hand the kid over and say, ‘OK, you can be the parent’? Should it be that simple? No, you owe it to yourself and to your child to make sure this is the right decision, to make sure the new parents are good for that child, to make sure you’re not going to change your mind and jerk the poor kid back and forth between parents.

These legal hoops may seem excessive, but they’re pretty important to protect everyone. And if you’ve ever paid a lawyer, you know how quickly those fees can add up.

Natural Birth is Expensive Too
A final thing people forget when they consider the cost of adoption is that natural birth isn’t free. Most people have health insurance so they never realize the full cost of giving birth in the hospital. I think the total cost for Lexi’s birth approached $15,000, thanks to a few complications. We paid about a grand, thanks to good insurance.

Child for Sale Mentality
I think part of what’s so hard about the high cost of adoption is that it brings to mind the frightening idea of buying a child (especially when you see the catalogs of kids needing to be adopted, complete with pictures and descriptions). That’s not what’s happening here, and most agencies seem to go to great lengths to make that clear. The birth mother is not receiving a payment (though her medical bills, legal and counseling needs will be covered). The adoption agency is not getting rich (our agency pointed out that their nice new building was funded completely by donations–not a penny of adoption fees went to the construction costs).

The process tries to be very transparent so that it can’t be seen as a human trafficking endeavor. As I’ve tried to explain above (probably poorly), there’s a lot involved in taking the responsibility of another’s child. That’s a huge step, and it doesn’t seem you can take that step without great cost. That kind of value for the child being adopted makes this the complete opposite of a child-for-sale situation.

OK, Almost Done
It’s all rather complicated. And expensive. But in some ways it seems like it should be that way. You can’t enter into this lightly. It will take a lot of your money and a lot of your time. But I think you owe it to the child. And that makes the check a lot easier to write.

59 thoughts on “Why Is Adoption So Expensive?”

  1. Wow, so much to think about! This is so interesting, thanks for blogging about this.

    Some friends here are planning to adopt through … hmm I can’t remember, social services or something? Basically it’s children that are taken away from families instead of women giving up their babies and it is supposed to be a LOT cheaper as for one thing you don’t have to cover the women’s birthing expenses. I think the baby technically goes into foster care, so there is a chance the child could be claimed by a relative depending on the situation/if they have stable relatives…

    Have you looked at SCC’s organization? they provide some Grant/financial help since the whole process IS crazy-expensive.

  2. Yes, I have looked into Steven Curtis Chapman’s organization. They do have a decent grant, though you need to be farther along in the process to apply for it. I do plan on doing that though.

    My cousin’s wife works for an agency like what you describe out in L.A.–he described it as fostering with the intent to adopt. It sounded like a pretty good deal, though I’m not sure we have the equivalent here.

  3. I found you information very helpful when i was wrighting an english paper. Thank you so much for the information about adoption. And good luck with yours.

  4. I’m not bashing you, I want to adopt as well. I do, however, want to point some things out.

    Although I’m sure you’re willing to pay the money it takes to adopt a child, it is still overpriced to the point of baby selling. For instance, when you consider the exchange rate, it doesn’t make sense that it costs $10k to $30k to adopt from a 3rd world country.

    I read an article about Haitian women who often have to choose which child they will let die because they can’t afford to feed all of them. Why, then, does it cost $15k (In US Dollars) to adopt one? Translated into Haitian Gourde, that’s almost a million of them. Someone is getting very, very rich from that transaction.

    There really is no verifiable reason why it should cost the price of a car to take in a child who would otherwise starve to death.

  5. I have been wanting to adopt as well. One day, a co-worker at work said her daughter was pregnant and would be giving her baby up for adoption and told be to go to the agency. Me and my husband went to find out the information. They gave us all the fees, saying that the mother gets counseling after she has the baby and an incentive as well. I talked to my co-worker the next day and her nor her daughter knew anything about getting any compensation from the agency? You say they don’t get rich from doing what they do? Do you really believe that if you only had 12,000 to adopt they would have the heart to say don’t worry about the rest? I don’t think so. The total price you gave for a domestic adoption is the lowest I have even heard of. All the places i have called its been about 20k – 30k.

    Anyway, here are some questions for you. Why is it that there is a different fee for Infants and toddlers? And about the mothers being on insurance….thats funny…because most of these girls are teenagers and are on medicaid which is free, because you are paying for it with your taxes.
    Why is this adoption study fee based on income? The more you make the more you can pay? But,like you said…no one is making money here and well the beautiful building with a nice location is fully funded by donations…right? Yeah, donations you don’t know your making.
    I wish i would believe your fantasy…but when fostering a child you also have several homestudies, fingerprints,background checks, church recommendations,income check all the double checking needed to make sure your going to be a good fosterparent or should i say parent. And like you said: there’s a lot involved in taking the responsibility of another’s child. That’s a huge step, and it doesn’t seem you can take that step without great cost. That kind of value for the child being adopted makes this the complete opposite of a child-for-sale situation. The process tries to be very transparent so that it can’t be seen as a human trafficking endeavor. IF THIS IS TRUE AND WELL ITS ALL FOR THE KIDS WELL BEING…WHY THE BIG DOLLAR SIGN? DOING THIS THROUGH CPS IS ONLY ABOUT 200-300 AND YES INCLUDES THE DOUBLE CHECKING, WHICH I DO AGREE IS VERY IMPORTANT BUT I ALSO KNOW IT SHOULDN’T BE ALL THAT EXPENSIVE.



  6. You can stop YELLING now, Anna. Thanks.

    You’ve got a lot of misconceptions there. Let’s see…

    1) Most mothers placing their children for adoption are not teenagers. Stats show teens are more likely to keep the baby than place it for adoption.

    2) You should be comparing agencies and looking for one you trust. I find it hard to believe that CHS is nearly half the price of agencies you looked at. I imagine it varies state to state, but that seems like an indication that something is wrong w/ the agencies you’re looking at.

    3) The big dollar sign is because it still costs money. Would you provide whatever skill you have for free even if it was for a good cause? Sorry, but these people need income just like you. That’s how it works.

    4) I applied for the grant (and didn’t get it) because every bit helps. Adoption is expensive and while I don’t take issue with the cost, I still have to find a way to pay for it.

    I’m sorry you’re floating in misconceptions Anna, but you’ve got the wrong idea about adoption.

  7. I am so sorry but you are just an apologist for the exorbitant fees charged by these agencies. Having worked for a law firm a s consultant to these agencies I can tell you that they are just pushing paper and do the absolute minimum to assure the welfare of the child. They get nice back door donations from the firm for referral work. Since they are supposedly private and non-profit they don’t get caught.
    Consider how easy it is to become a foster parent, and get paid for it! Yet those people many of whom are surely in it for the money, and more likely to be abusive, don’t go through what prospective adoptive parents go through.

  8. Larry T, I obviously can’t speak for all agencies, but I can speak from personal experience that my agency did more than the absolute minimum to assure the welfare of my child.

    If you’re going to suggest otherwise in my situation you’re calling me a liar and you can politely show yourself to the door.

  9. So, I didn’t read through the comments, but just had a thought that you might want to list adopting through the county/state/foster care system. I’m sure it varies state to state, but the cost is extremely minimal.

  10. Ariah, you’re right the cost is minimal (depending on the state) but it’s probably the most difficult route to take in terms of adoption. If the birth parents have already terminated or have had all right terminated that’s one thing but often times trying to adopt through the foster system is an uphill battle. It’s set up to reunite children with their birth parents (which is ideal) but often leaves adoptive families broken-hearted as the children they have cared for and loved are taken from their lives.

  11. First, I’d like to tell you that your blog has been very helpful. Also, when you say that “the U.S. government offers a $10,000 tax credit for adoption” what kind of adoption does this relate to international or domestic? I was just asking because I would love to adopt since I too was adopted (domestic) and because I have a great interest in adopting abroad and dont have money at my dispose and that money would be nice to receieve back so that I may use towards the child I adopt. Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon.

  12. When you finalize an adoption, either international or domestic, you can apply for a tax credit on your federal taxes. There are probably all kinds of limitations on that, so you’d need to talk to a tax professional to find out more.

  13. Kevin, While i understand your position, and am not calling you a liar or apologist, you cannot honestly say there is no problems with the adoption system. The fact that children around the world are dying, and children in our own country are living in wretched circumstances, and yet the only way to save these children is with a huge wad of cash, well something is wrong with that. That is why people respond with such passion and anger, because at it’s core, people recognize that to prevent children from being adopted because of a lack of printed paper from a fiat currency system, well that is just evil, pure and simple.

  14. Sam, I never said there were no problems with the adoption system. It’s not a perfect system.

    And frankly, we aren’t perfect people. There’s no way anyone is going to be able to set up a perfect system or make adoption cheap and affordable. I wish it weren’t that way, but that’s how it is. No matter how idealistic we want to be (and I’m pretty idealistic), it’s expensive to care for kids and protect their interests and protect birth families and make sure no one is being taken advantage of or abused.

    The fact that kids need to be adopted in the first place is messed up. But sometimes life is messed up.

  15. My husband and I adopted our daughter domestically in 2007. The agency cost was 15,000, but we also had to pay for 3 months of foster care which was another 1200.00. As for the tax credit we couldn’t claim her because in our state of PA she had to be living with us 6 months to be eligible. Since then we have claimed her, but the tax credit isn’t instant cash. It is only a credit against the taxes that you owe. If you don’t owe thousands in taxes you may see little benefit.
    I believe the adoption system needs to be reformed. One of the other injustices is the fact that some agencies are charging thousands less for biracial and African American children. Why is a child of color less expensive? What message are they sending? As a matter of fact, my sister adopted her son in 2002 and paid thousands less because he was biracial. Let’s face it the system needs evaluated on many levels. Private Adoption should be an option to people of all income levels. Just because you pay a lot of money to an agency doesn’t mean the process is credible. Despite my doubts, my husband and I will adopt again because we want more children and adoption is our only option. Let’s hope the system changes.

  16. Gretchen, the tax credit can also be stretched over multiple years, so if you can’t claim all of it one year, it can be applied in successive years. As always, talk to a tax professional to get the full details.

    In general, I think one of the problems with adoption is when we think about the cost as the ‘price of the child’. Gretchen you asked what message they’re sending, but you could also ask what message are you hearing? If a lower price to encourage adoptions is seen as a ‘less expensive’ child, that could just as easily be you seeing a message that isn’t there.

    All that to say, there’s a lot of controversy in adoption and none of it is straightforward or easy.

  17. Kevin, I’m starting to think you work for an adoption agency. Could you at least acknowledge that (generally) our society places less value on minorities? Although I am not a minority, this is crystal clear to me. Countless minority children are available for adoption as compared to white children and they wait twice as long to be adopted. If we are all truly equal, than our actions must support equality. I’m just trying to be honest and make a point that many refuse to acknowledge.

  18. Yes, Kevin, I read your entry. Did you read mine? Women in Haiti were feeding their children mudpies and choosing which ones would get actual food – knowing that the ones who didn’t would die – because they didn’t have enough of anything to feed everyone.

    It takes $15k to $30k in American dollars (translated into a million dollars in Haitian money) to adopt a child who will STARVE TO DEATH if not adopted.

    It is now after the earthquake and there are more orphans than ever – so more child deaths.

    If the state (in the US) can perform adoptions at around $500 – and they have to perform the same checks on all parties that private agencies do – then why does it costs thousands more to do it privately? If children in third world countries are starving to death, why does it cost thousands of dollars in US currency to adopt them?

    It costs around 10-30 grand to supply a child’s needs for a year once they’re in your house. I’m supposed to believe it costs the equivalent to run background checks so I can adopt one?

  19. Katja, what are you talking about? State adoptions for $500?

    Gretchen, what makes you think I’m attacking you? I’m just trying to point out a flaw in your logic. Do you really think fees for non-white children are lower because the kids are less valued? Or is it because more people want white children? Agencies are just trying to deal with demand and get kids in homes. Maybe it’s not agencies that are being unequal, but parents. Like I’ve said, it’s not perfect.

    I’m getting a little tired of having to defend how the adoption system works.

    It’s not a perfect system, it’s not an ideal system, but it’s the system we have in place. Could it be improved? Yes, and I hope it is. Could it be made less expensive? Maybe, and I hope that happens. Is corruption a problem? Yes, and when it’s there it needs to be stamped out.

    But there are very real, very sane reasons why adoption is so expensive. That’s all I’m trying to say here.

    If you want to adopt you need to do your research into the costs and find out for yourself where the money is going. If you think it’s corruption is happening, you do the research.

    I’m tired of people seeing the price tag and concluding that people are just getting rich off this. That may be true in rare instances of corruption, but I can say with near certainty that’s not the case for my agency and situation.

  20. Kevin, I didn’t feel attacked by your feedback, and I hope you don’t feel attacked by mine. This is exactly the conversation that needs to happen. It’s not your responsibility to defend the adoption system, but your comments tend to be in the system’s defense. The point is to have an honest discussion that will hopefully give other people a broad view of adoption from many perspectives. Recently, I’ve been exploring other adoption agencies in my area and found one that charges 7500.00 plus court costs which will not exceed a total of 10,000.00 for the entire adoption. My point, in mentioning this, is that agencies do vary in cost for one reason or another. I feel it is important to educate others when you have encountered a process yourself. It wouldn’t be honest to communicate the good without the bad. Kevin, I recognize you are speaking from your own experience, but realize that others are speaking from theirs as well. I encourage you not to get frustrated by the direction the discussion is taking, and celebrate that your blog is being used as a vehicle for people, as you say, to reflect and ponder their thoughts and feelings.

  21. State adoptions for about $500 (that most people don’t even pay). It’s called “Adopting out of the Foster Care system” and it doesn’t cost families very much because the state handles it. In America, the state can apparently transfer parental rights from one party to another without families paying “the equivalent of a car” so obviously it can be done.

    Here’s an excerpt from a New York Times article that describes conditions in Haitian orphanages before the quake:

    “The floors were concrete and the windows were broken.

    There was no electricity or running water. Lunch looked like watery grits. Beds were fashioned from sheets of cardboard. And the only toilet did not work.

    But the Foyer of Patience here is like hundreds of places that pass as orphanages for thousands of children in the poorest country in the hemisphere. Many are barely habitable, much less licensed. They have no means to provide real schooling or basic medical care, so children spend their days engaged in mindless activities, and many die from treatable illnesses.”

    So, if this is how the kids were living, does it really take $15,000 to $30,000 to transfer parental rights so they can have a life?

    I’m not trying to attack you, I just think you are woefully unaware of the discrepancy between what you are paying and whether or not it’s doing any good for children. Someone is most definitely getting rich off of adoption. Maybe you don’t mean for them to, but they are.

    I’m not even hinting that you shouldn’t adopt anyway – the child is most definitely worth the effort, but denying the reality of what’s going on doesn’t help get the adoption system fixed. That’s why so many people are commenting here.

    Link to the NYT article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35281005/ns/world_news-the_new_york_times

  22. Katja,

    1. You’re comparing apples to oranges to cherries. Adopting through the foster care system and adopting a child internationally are two completely different things. Different costs, different process, very different. Adopting from Haiti and adopting from Ethiopia are also two very different things, with different costs and different processes.

    2. The $500 cost you’re talking about is one step in a much larger, much more expensive process. That doesn’t include the agency fees, the lawyer fees if you don’t use an agency, the home study costs (which are more expensive for foster care because it’s more involved), etc. So don’t tell me you can adopt for $500.

    3. “I just think you are woefully unaware of the discrepancy between what you are paying and whether or not it’s doing any good for children.” We’re talking about my situation of adopting from Ethiopia through my agency in this blog post–I can’t speak to the differences in somewhere like Haiti–and in my situation, I saw where my kid came from, I saw the level of care he received, I saw the schools and hospitals that my fees help support. The money was well-spent, going to good use and helping people.

  23. Thanks for this. Very timely. I just wish those income adjustments didn’t make adoption so prohibitive. We are hoping to adopt a second child. But the last agency I looked at charges $19,000 ffor our income level. The cost of living here is very high, (About $1900 a month for three bedrooms. I have student loans and our first child is in daycare. It just seems like the system could be streamlined and therefore allow more families to consider adopting, regardless of the race of the child. Criminal defense attorney usually make less than $100,000 in a whole year, homestudies are only $1500. Where does the other $17,500 go? What exactly does processing and placement cover? What are the margins and the markup? I worked in a law firmm. They once charge a company $45 for me to make 13 photocopies. There are 500,000 waiting children in America. Seems like there could be a better way.
    Well, anyway, congratulations on your new child.

  24. I disagree with almost everything in this blog. Reading it makes my blood boil. My wife and I wanted to adopt, so we started looking into it. An agency wanted to charge us $300 just for making inquiries about the adoption process. Then they wanted to charge us $3000 for a “home study.” I looked into what constitutes a home study and I could conduct one in a couple of hours. Why does it take the agencies six months or more? I know what they pay their social workers at these agencies … for a couple of hours labor plus overhead the home study should NEVER cost more than $500. Kevin Hendricks says “it’s worth it” to spend upwards of $20,000 to adopt. OK, so what’s left to spend on housing, food, and clothing the new child? It all comes down to one simple statement, applicable in all states and probably in all countries … ADOTPTION IS ONLY FOR THE VERY WEALTHY. Agencies are, despite all of their efforts to appear otherwise, trafficers in human beings. And they profit by it. I obtained a fees list from an agency that operates out of my hometown. Total up what they charge for an average adoption, not for an infant and with no complications, and it came to $18,802.00. They bragged in their promotional materials that they placed 28 children with adoptive families as of August this year. Do the math! That’s $526,456.00. I WISH my business had that kind of income. I spend a lot of time actively discouraging people from adopting. I understand the desire to adopt because I have the same desire. My wife and I have room in our home and room in our hearts for another child, now that our oldest is grown and moved out. But as long as people are shelling out millions to these agencies, we are NEVER going to be able to afford it. Kevin Hendricks says that it costs about the same as a car to adopt and that’s why they don’t have one. Kevin, you would have been far better off buying a car and supporting the auto industry than to support the incredibly corrupt adoption racket.

  25. Bad Biker: People who think adoption should be cheap because you’re doing a good thing, and if it costs a lot of money then something must be wrong.

    But it’s just not that simple. The adoption process is incredibly complex and incredibly costly. Not because people are lining their pockets, but because there are a ton of delicate legal matters to wade through, and that doesn’t come cheap. It shouldn’t be cheap to strip someone’s parental rights and hand that child over to a new family. If that needs to happen, there should be all kinds of safe guards in place to make sure that everything is in the best interest of the child, including making sure that the adoptive parents are above board. That’s what a home study is for, and if you think you can do it yourself in a couple of hours, than you don’t know a thing about adoption.

    And if the cost is really such a burden for you, you can explore your state’s equivalent of the waiting child list. These children are wards of the state in foster care and looking to be permanently adopted. In most cases the state will cover most of the costs of the adoption because it’s better (and cheaper) for the child to be in a permanent home long term. These are usually older kids with a lot of baggage, but they need families just as badly.

    But no matter what you do, you should always thoroughly research an agency and ask questions about what your fees are going to. There certainly are corrupt agencies out there, but to slam all agencies is simply wrong.

  26. Hey Kevin.

    I have an unusual situation here. My wife lives in the US with our US born son, I am in Canada. Before you ask, my wife is having some entry issues into Canada.

    We are married for almost 7 years. My step-son is now 15 years old and I have been with him and his mom since he has been 2-years-old … biological dad has never been involved and is not listed on the birth certificate.

    I am trying to officially adopt my step-son. In Ontario, I have to do this with an International Adoption. The cost is cRaZy! Quoted $20,000 to $30,000!!! I can’t afford this! We are trying to look after the best interest of the child, but these fees are not allowing us to do so.

    This is just an FYI, but any comments you may have would be greatly appreciated.


  27. Kevin,
    As an adoption professional, I found your entry and comments to be very knowledgeable. Another thing to consider is that adoption agencies provide services to birth parents in the form of counseling and assisting with making a placement plan. However, some birth parents choose to parent. If, per se, one out of every three birth parent clients places a child for adoption, then sensibly, an agency would need to plan the expense for birth parent counseling for one placement is actually the cost of services for three, if that makes sense. The general public is largely ignorant of all of the work that goes into a single placement. Ignorance ruffles my feathers terribly. Thank you for providing intelligible information on this topic.

  28. I did enjoy reading this article as well as all of the questions. I do not understand how your experiences grew itno such a big debate, but i do see both sides of the equation. Me and my wife are trying to adopt, but we are finding it difficult to find an agency that is affordable. I agree with most that the agencies are really after profit. Most of the adoption agencies…if not all…are FOR profit. But let me pose this question: Isn’t it still true that natural birth is way more inexpensive than adoption? Insurance will cover the majority cost, so whatever that total cost was does not apply. You are not paying that fee. Why are the insurance companies so damn uninterested in getting involved with this? That would be amazing. There are grants out there for people having trouple with the fees. We are looking into them, but you must catch them when the money is available.

  29. Hi, Thank you for breaking all of this down for me. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for 7 years with no luck and looked into adoption. We were daunted by the high price and began to think of it as “buying a life” and it really bothered both of us. Reading your post gave me a different view and I appreciate it. Thanks again.

  30. Per capita income for an Ethiopian is $1,000/year. It costs twenty-five years of Ethiopian labor to do the paperwork to adopt one child from there?


    I mean, really?

    Adoption agencies are scams. Pure and simple.

  31. Steve, as I itemized the expenses above, the country program costs are the only amount that’s spent in the country. The adoption study, placement fee and everything else is paid in the U.S. to a U.S. agency. So the per capita income of Ethiopia has nothing to do with it.

    And for the record, the country program costs for Ethiopia are among the cheapest and are on the low end of that range I gave. And those in-country expenses not only go to caring for the children, processing all paperwork and ensuring that the whole thing isn’t a scam, they also go to important humanitarian efforts like schools, hospitals and micro-businesses (which I visited while in Ethiopia).

    I agree (and have before) that there are many agencies out there that are not ethical. But there are also many agencies out there that are completely ethical and doing everything they can for the best interest of the children.

  32. Short and to the point….

    I adopted my oldest daughter for 250.00 in 1987. Her mother signed the paperwork at a local attorney’s office. Granted, she and I were then married, but the whole process was clean and quick. Handle the paperwork, change the name, new birth certificate and we’re off.

    The wife left after 15 years, but my relationship with my daughter is more solid than granite… I’m her dad, I’m all she knows formally [she was 10 when we married] and all she wants. when I think of her it’s not my “Adopted Daughter”, just my daughter.

    I’m in marriage two and doing fine. No more kids at home now, the youngest [who stayed with me] left for the service and we’re interested in filling our latter 40’s with kids again, but the cost is obscene.

    We’re selling kids here, in my humble opinion, and that’s the bottom line.

    It’s a sad testament to our state of affairs. We could raise a couple of kids and give them a loving productive home, but I will not buy one. The agencies will just kick them out when they reach a certain age [varies by country] but charge you thousands to interrupt that process??? How is that not trafficking?????

    Searching for a better and honorable way….

  33. I think the message that your readers and posters are trying to get across to you is that adoption does not have to be as expensive as this article is justifying it being. When adopting through DHS, they perform home studies, background checks, physicals, and all the resources for documentation and legalization of the adoption…..and STILL the costs aren’t anywhere near the $13k-16k mentioned in this post.

    Also, while one reader may indeed have gotten the statistics wrong on which age is most likely to choose adoption for their baby, they are correct in assuming that medical financial resources are available for the prenatal care and delivery of the infant.

    While all your information may be quite helpful to parents just starting out in the quest for a child, I don’t feel you are an expert when it comes to adoption. None of us can be. Every situation is different, as you’ve said. However, instead of giving your opinion in ways that aide those that are confused, you seem to be isolating posters with your underhanded attacks and downright rudeness. Perhaps those of us seeking to adopt because of an innate desire to share our love and homes with displaced children should be supportive of one another. Steve’s argument was that international exchange rates in 3rd world countries seem preposterous when talking of adoption. You cited that the majority of the money was spent in the US. That’s not really accurate. In most of those countries, it is required to buy gifts for every single person you do business with in your adoption process. It may not be the law, but it’s discussed in such harsh terms to imply that if you don’t follow it, you won’t get a child.

    I’m aware that by posting here, I’ve opened myself up to criticism, but if this were my blog, I’d step out of the equation and let the discussion find it’s own direction. It’s a wonderful topic and I’m glad people are so passionate about adoption, but you’re comments are distracting from the main point at hand, and becoming an “I’m right. You’re wrong” agenda that no one will ever truly win.

    ****and to BadBiker,it sounds as if you’re fed up with the system. That’s fine, but please don’t tell people to avoid adoption. I know it’s frustrating to think you could be supporting the auto companies for how much you pay to adopt one child, but I’d rather people invest in the future of America’s youth. In the long run, kids can drive you crazy and back, but their value in 20 years will be much higher than resale on your car.

  34. Frankly Kasie, it’s my blog. If you don’t like how I’m handling the discussion, go somewhere else. I’m responding the way I am because people, including yourself, are refusing to consider the rationale I’m laying out. That rationale is the “main point at hand.” I don’t know everything about adoption, but I’ve seen enough to share some helpful experience.

    A good example of not considering my reasoning is you denying my claim that in foreign adoptions the majority of the money is spent in the U.S. I was speaking to my own experience and in that case it was most certainly true. The program costs for an Ethiopian adoption through our agency at the time we did it were around $8,000. That was about a third of the total cost. So yes, in my case, the majority of the money was spent in the U.S.

    Certainly there are countries where the costs are much greater, the corruption is much greater and you do have to bribe local officials. And that should send up all kinds of ethical red flags.

    You also claim that an adoption through DHS doesn’t cost anywhere near these amounts. And that’s true, it doesn’t cost the adoptive parent. Because in most states the state picks up all of the costs in order to encourage adoption. But all the paperwork, all the costs of care, all the homestudies, all the lawyer fees still have to be paid. It’s not that it costs any less, it’s that someone else pays it. So to say that it’s cheaper and therefore other adoption can be cheaper is a complete manipulation of the situation.

    The bottom line is that adoption is expensive and there are good, legitimate reasons (i.e., not corruption) for that. I wish it were simpler, but the fact is that we’re talking about a complicated process.

  35. The blunt truth is, as a young, fertile woman, I would be more than willing to forego my ability to have my own child with my loving husband to adopt someone else’s child.

    However, these fees are prohibitive. There is no way we could afford this.

    Therefore, we will most likely just have our own child.

    Tell me, how is this a good thing for society?

  36. Hello,
    Thank you so much for this post. We have only been in the international adoption process for a few months officially, and already I have been getting this question from every nosy neighbor/friend/relative/casual acquaintance I encounter. It is kind of a bummer! I hope it is okay that I am linking this post to my blog so that my curious readers can benefit from your well-worded wisdom.
    I am really enjoying your site! Keep up the good work.

  37. Kevin:

    Excellent post. Thank you for writing it and for addressing all the obnoxious comments with grace and wisdom.


    Adoptive mom of 2
    Bio mom to 2

  38. “I can’t help but wonder if the people who ask that question want those kind of policies in place.”

    Wow. Is your mind really blown by people who demand accountability from people who are in charge of other people’s lives? Or is this just rhetorical bluster?

    “Should we have an authoritarian system in place, one that would encroach on citizen’s rights even more so than China’s one-child policy? Starts to sound like 1984 or Brave New World.”

    Oh geeze, I guess children’s rights aren’t worth shit, but “citizen’s rights” to feed their ego by having children, well…

    Double standard, huh?

  39. Thanks for this interesting article. I definitely associate to Amanda M. I really want to adopt to give a child already out there a better life, even if I can have my own children. The cost of the process, however, even with my husband’s and my reasonable income, makes this wish unreachable and unrealistic. I understand that people also need to put bread on their table for their efforts to place a child into a good family environment. Still, it saddens me that there are so many good families wishing to adopt – be it domestically or internationally – that a needy child will never see because they can’t get enough funding to make it happen. I think in the end, that’s what most people here are trying to convey – and they’re venting their frustration out on you. There is absolute sense in what you’ve said and shared, but because it doesn’t work for many of us, it feels unfair and it’s easier – although irrational – to conclude the system is broken and corrupt.

    While there’s some discussion about a tax credit to assist with the financial burden of the process, it doesn’t sound reliable or fast – since even you didn’t get it. If we weren’t in such a difficult economy with a staggering deficit, I’d say the government should get even more involved in helping families afford adoption, at least domestically. Of course that’s unrealistic and unreachable thinking as well. It all just seems like a cruel stalemate – families can’t afford to adopt, and agencies can’t afford to place children in good homes for less. In the end, many children get cheated out of a good life – if they even get to live.

    I’m glad some are fortunate, at least. I know it has been some time since you’ve published this post, ( hey, it’s got good SEO rankings, so good for you! ) and your recent addition to the family must be growing fast. I’m glad your adopted child had the fortune of finding a nice home and family to grow up in. So congratulations in that department! I only wish that someday I will have the means to do the same.

  40. My wife and I appreciate your honest assessment of what we would have had to go through. Our insurance covers the fertility treatments needed to get pregnant and as much as we would have liked to adopt we have decided to follow our doctors recommendations. He adopted and did fertility and said the later was faster and far cheaper with my insurance. Hopefully in the future the process is streamlined to make it easier. Good luck.

  41. I found this blog by chance and enjoyed reading it with everyone’s viewpoints.

    My husband and I are seriously considering adoption after being branded with unexplained infertility after 3.5 years of trying. I will admit that the adoption cost is incredible. My husband’s first question was, “Does the agency take payment plans? Find an agency that takes payment plans.” We are in Illinois and it’s looking like a domestic infant adoption is going to be 18-30k. I called some agencies and they do not offer payment plans per se, but space out payments and expect them to be paid in full at that time. My husband and I would like to be able to pay 1000/mo for 20 months than take out a loan and pay a lot more in interest. Even with the 13k in tax credit, having to shell out the money is a big deal, like you said, almost the price of a car. I think there is perhaps an ethical problem with using payment plans, needing to pay for the baby in full before you take it home, otherwise the baby isn’t really yours until paid in full.

    I understand your comments that it should be expensive because you are paying for that child to be legally yours and that there are hoops to jump through, but I wonder if the government could provide a greater portion in a tax return? Our taxes are used for so many purposes (that we may or may not like) and to give a U.S. child a loving home seems to me to be a worthwhile endeavor that I (and I hope more people) would support as an American citizen. That is just my opinion.

    Right now we are looking for low-interest loans and feeling a little disheartened at the cost of this all. We are not wealthy, but yeah, I think we can manage to adopt with a little scraping. Is the child in our arms worth it in the end? -yes. But there is some level of unfairness here. Like you said, nothing is perfect.

  42. The cost of adoption is EXORBITANT and I’m not going to rehash what many commentators already stated. Nevertheless, as angry as it makes me, I recognize, too, that God will provide the funds for his saints to adopt. If we should view adoption as a ministry instead of just another convenient life choice that makes us happy then the cost takes backseat to what really matters—the opportunity to pour Christian love into a person’s life.

    I had a visitor at my church tell me this morning that he and his wife plan to approach their church about helping them fund an adoption. Great idea, and I hope this works for that young couple and even becomes a trend. In terms of ministry impact I have a hard time thinking of a better ministry opportunity than adoption. I suppose that is what we would expect from something that mirrors what God did with us through Christ.

  43. My wife and I used In Vetro for our first son, and were lucky enough to have it work the first time. We have a healthy boy, age 4 now. We both would like a little girl so started to look into adoption. So far we are absolutely disheartened with the costs involved. We just cannot afford it. We looked into international adoption from Russia, and were quoted a total cost from one agency of around 53,000 dollars on average. That just seems absolutely absurd to me.

  44. Hi,
    Thank you for all your comments even if some of them were very bitter..We are too trying to conceive (6 years of IUI’s) with no luck. We are just now starting to look into adoption. I’m not getting any younger. Boy, i would have to say i will continue to have IUI’s until i am too old because there is no way on gods green earth we can afford to adopt. It’s crazy and very sad that it costs that much. I mean a few thousand yeh we could probably do that even $5k, but $30k what there is no way? In fact that could buy you a house in some counties.
    Those poor children and those wonderful parents that would love to adopt them…..and we are one of them….very very sad… i do agree adopting is defiantly for rich people.

  45. “adopting is definitely for rich people”… no nikki, what’s sad is that you think that’s the case. There are plenty of grants and programs out there to help people afford adoption. Most states offer all kinds of help for adopting older kids and those kids get all kinds of state help (including college tuition in some cases).

    Yes, straight up international adoption is expensive. But it’s not out of reach.

  46. Kevin,
    Thanks for having your blog. We have family members planning to adopt internationally. I just couldn’t understand why they said it would cost so much. I didn’t want to appear rude and ask them so thought I do a little research. After reading your blog I’m feeling much more educated about the process. Thanks again. :)

  47. There is no reason a child who would starve in a 3rd world country that doesn’t have support else where should be in the range of 10k to 30k… This is a legal form of human trafficking and its not right when these child deserve to go to homes of many people who would adopt. If these ridiculous costs weren’t present many more suited parents would adopt and there would be homes for countless children in foster care, simple as that. It sickens me when people here try to justify why it is so expensive and try to rationalize it. It’s quite embarrassing and I think we as a society should question why it is so expensive to provide a great life for a child living in poverty. Someone is making big bucks and this is a booming business for this industry.

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