Adopting can often be a wonderful experience for everyone involved when you create a loving new family by welcoming a child into your home. However, the cost of adoption can be a concern for many families starting their adoption journey, especially as there are various fees and costs that you may not anticipate. This article will address some of the common costs of adoption.
Adoption laws are different in every state and country. Before beginning the adoption process, you should to talk to a local adoption lawyer to understand your different options and the costs involved in your specific situation.
The cost of using legal services is a common question for adoptive family members. Many family law attorneys will have an hourly rate and that rate may be set based on the attorney’s experience. Other factors that may affect the lawyer’s fee structure could be whether you’re working with an adoption agency. The adoption agency may provide the services of an attorney as part of their service.
In many cases, if you’re doing a private adoption, you will be using an adoption agency. Some private adoptions are known as independent adoptions. If you decide to do an intercountry adoption or Hague adoption, many countries will require you to use an adoption agency.
A foster care adoption will generally be less expensive than going through a private adoption. The state will generally take care of terminating the biological parent’s parental rights, which decreases the amount of work the adoption attorney has to do to finalize the adoption, which in turn reduces your legal fees. It may be a good idea to shop around for an adoption attorney and ask about their legal fees.
While it is not always required to use an attorney during your adoption journey, it is advisable. Adoption laws are complex and are technical. An experienced adoption attorney will know the ins and outs of the complex laws and ensure all legal paperwork is drafted and filed timely and correctly, reducing the risk of problems later on.
Attempting to do the legal parts yourself, or pro se, could make the process longer, harder, and ultimately more expensive if you have to hire an attorney late in the process to fix mistakes that were made.
Completing a home study is a mandatory step when adopting a child. It is required by all states. Generally, a social worker assists in completing this step and may occur during the probationary period, if such a period is required by your state or adoption agency. A social worker will collect biographical information about the prospective adoptive parents, interview the prospective adoptive parents, and may visit the home to do a brief inspection to address any safety concerns.
If you choose to adopt a child or baby through foster care, the social worker you work with as a foster parent will generally be the same social worker completing the home study and this service is often free of charge. If you do a private adoption or independent adoption, you will likely have to pay a fee to complete the home study, though some adoption agencies may include this as part of their adoption fees.
Another piece of the adoption home study is a background check. You may be required to pay a fee to get your official government-approved background check. These agencies may have additional fees.
There may be other adoption expenses in addition to the adoption attorney and the home study, depending on the type of adoption.
Other fees to consider are paying expenses for the birth mother. These expenses could include medical expenses associated with prenatal care and medical birth expenses. You may also pay the birth parent’s living expenses until the baby is born.
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the average cost of a domestic adoption is between $25,000 to $45,000 for a private adoption or independent adoption. The cost rises to $20,000 to $50,000 for international adoption.
Costs for domestic adoptions can also vary from state to state. For example, the cost of adoption in Texas can vary from a few hundred dollars (when adopting an older child from foster care) up to around $45,000 when adopting a baby and using a private adoption agency.
If you choose to do an international adoption, you may also have to factor in travel expenses, which may include flights, hotels, meals, and other expenses. Most countries require you to use a licensed agency. Depending on the country, you may have to adopt the child in that country before returning to the United States and then finalize the adoption in your state upon return.
There may also be immigrant visa costs for the child you will bring home. Visas may have administrative fees, application fees, and processing fees. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also requires an adoption home study.
The costs of an international adoption can depend on the foreign government where the child lives. In some international adoptions, adoptive parents may need to pay a required donation to the foreign foster care system orphanage or pay agency fees. Many intercountry adoption agencies offer a sliding adoption fee scale, which may help lower the costs.
For example, if you adopt a child from China, the average cost is about $15,000-$25,000, including travel. China doesn’t require gifts or donations to agencies as part of its adoption process.
There are subsidies and adoption tax credits available when you adopt a child. Many communities as well as employers also offer adoption assistance programs to adoptive families to help offset the costs.
If you have other questions about the costs of an adoption or the adoption process, talk to an adoption attorney in your area for legal advice.
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