Choosing to build your family through adoption is a life-changing decision. It can be an exciting and positive experience for you as you begin your journey to becoming parents.
Besides taking steps to prepare yourself emotionally for the responsibilities of adoption and parenthood, it’s also a good idea to have a realistic understanding of the financial costs involved when adopting a child. It is best to know upfront what fees and expenses you can anticipate so you can plan and budget accordingly.
How much does adoption cost?
The costs of adoption vary based on the circumstances of the situation.
Generally, the prospective adoptive parent(s) pay all the fees and expenses in connection with the adoption. These include all the uninsured medical expenses incurred during the birthmother’s pregnancy and for the child’s birth; all social worker or agency fees; attorney fees for the adoptive parents and the child’s birthparents; court costs and possible assistance with the birthmother’s reasonable living expenses.
If you adopt a child who is in the legal custody of the state’s social services agency, the fees and expenses incurred in connection with the adoption are typically paid by the state. There is usually an adoption subsidy agreement between the adoptive parents and the state that outlines these fees and expenses.
Who decides what fees and expenses can be paid in connection with an adoption?
There are state laws that address what fees and expenses can be paid in connection with an adoption. If the law is not complied with, the Court can refuse to grant the adoption. Some state laws provide that any payment made or received in violation of the law is a crime.
The fees and expenses must be reasonable and necessary. The first expense is typically the cost of an adoption homestudy. Many prospective adoptive parents complete the homestudy process before they are matched with a birthmom. Generally, an adoption homestudy done by a private social worker or agency costs from $500-1,500.00. If you want to adopt a child who is in state custody, the state social services agency can do your homestudy for a nominal fee or at no cost.
Adoption agencies set their own fees, which vary depending on the services the agency is providing to the prospective adoptive parents and to the birthparents. Some agencies charge an agency fee that includes the cost of the homestudy, birthparent study, services provided to a birthparent, and post placement counseling for a birthparent. Other agencies charge separately for each service the agency is providing. It is advisable to talk with an agency and make sure you have a clear understanding of the agency’s fees, to avoid any misunderstandings.
The amount of financial assistance that can be provided to a birthmother for her living expenses also varies depending on her circumstances and the state’s laws. Generally, prospective parents can assist a birthmother with basic living expenses, such as rent, groceries and necessities, utilities, phone and transportation. The best practice is to speak with a knowledgeable attorney before providing financial assistance to a birthmother, to make sure state laws are complied with.
The first step.
There are many options you can take when beginning the adoption process. One option is to speak to an adoption attorney who is familiar with the state’s laws, the court process, the costs, and who can guide and advise you throughout your adoption journey to parenthood.
The attorneys at our firm have assisted hundreds of families with their adoptions and we would be happy to answer your adoption related questions. You can learn more about our Adoption Practice here.
Image: Adobe/Christin Lola
*This article is very general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. Readers with legal questions should consult with an attorney prior to making any legal decisions.