$20K or More to Expand Your Family? How to Pay for Adoption | Smart Change: Personal Finance


Sarah Bailey’s adoption experience began in 2013 when she connected with an adoption placement agency and paid fees for a parental class and to advertise to birth mothers for one year.

In 2014, and still without a successful adoption, Bailey began paying a monthly $340 advertising fee each time an adoption fell through.

“I didn’t expect the month-to-month” fee, says Bailey, a mental health program director in Indianapolis. As the expenses continued into year two of an expected yearlong process, Bailey became discouraged.

“For me, there was a point where I almost gave up,” she says.

She persisted, and by 2015, Bailey had paid over $22,000 to adopt her son.

The cost of a private agency adoption can range from $20,000 to $45,000, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children’s Bureau under the federal Office of the Administration for Children and Families.

The price can include legal fees, a home study to check the safety of your living space and counseling.

But adoption can include unplanned costs — like living expenses and hospital costs for the birth mother during pregnancy — that vary depending on the agency and state, as well as the adoption timeline.