Adoption Costs and Financial Assistance Resources

By: - November 21, 2012

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The financial costs relating to adoption are often one of the primary challenges that families face when pursuing adoption.  However, many people are unaware that there are an increasing number of ways to meet this challenge through a variety of adoption financial assistance resources.  This overview is intended to help you better understand the costs of various adoption options and identify potential ways that you may be able to better address the financial cost challenge.

Overview of the Costs of Adoption

How much will it cost?  This is the inevitable question that is often asked when people begin to consider adoption.  So they go in search of solid information about the cost of adoption and quickly find relatively unhelpful ranges of adoption costs such as $5,000 to $40,000.  This type of information leaves many asking the obvious question – which is it, $5,000 or $40,000?

When it comes to the cost of adoption the most honest answer often is – it depends.  Most importantly, the answer to the question about the cost of adoption depends on the type of adoption you are pursuing.  But don’t despair – there are some general guidelines that you can rely on in order to help you identify the range of adoption costs you are likely to face.

The Type of Adoption Process Matters

The type of adoption process that you are considering will greatly influence the overall adoption costs that you are likely to encounter.  For example, families can often adopt children from the state foster care system for very little or no financial cost.  In addition, families are often able to adopt privately without using an adoption agency or facilitator (e.g., adopting independently, such as by sending “Dear Birthmother” letters to family and friends in order to identify a birthmother) for a total cost (without the use of a facilitator) of around $15,000.  However, as a general rule the use of an adoption agency for a domestic or international adoption will result in much higher costs than adoptions from foster care or independent adoptions.

Some General Guidelines Regarding the Cost of Adoption

In 2010/2011 Adoptive Families Magazine conducted an updated non-scientific readers’ survey on the cost of adoption.  The survey reflects the experiences of more than 1,500 respondents.  The survey (the results of which can be read in their entirety at reveal some interesting facts (before tax credits and employer benefits):

  • In general, domestic adoptions, on average, cost less than international adoptions
  • For most adopters, the average total expenses were around $30,000
  • Domestic adoption through an agency cost on average $33,793, while domestic adoption through an attorney cost on average $31,465
  • Domestic adoption through the foster care system cost on average $2,253
  • Of those who adopted internationally, the average cost to adopt from China was $31,801, from Ethiopia was $34,125, from Korea was $46,688 and from Russia was $66,204

For more information regarding the Adoptive Families Magazine 2010-2011 Cost Survey, visit     

Financial Assistance Resources for Adoptive Families

As the costs of various types of adoptions continue to escalate, there has been a similar increase in the financial assistance resources available to help families deal with these costs.  Information regarding several of these financial assistance resources is provided below.

Federal Adoption Tax Credit

Currently there is a federal adoption tax credit that provides a refundable federal tax credit of up to $12,650 (for 2012) for unreimbursed “qualified adoption expenses,” and is subject to certain income limitations above $189,710 (for 2012) of Modified Adjusted Gross Income.  Based on current law, after 2012 the adoption tax credit will return to the pre-2001 amount of $5,000 ($6,000 for “special needs” adoptions).

See IRS Tax Topic 607: Adoption Credit (, which provides general information about the current federal adoption tax credit.  You can also find additional helpful information about the federal adoption tax credit at  Please be sure to consult your tax adviser for additional information and to understand how the federal adoption tax credit works and may impact you.)

Adoption Grant and Loan Programs

Below is a partial list of potential financial assistance resources (in particular various grant and loan programs) that are generally available for potential adoptive parents: 

Lifesong for

The Abba


In addition, Tapestry has established an adoption assistance fund to help qualified families connected to Irving Bible Church and/or Tapestry with the financial cost of adoption. You can find more information about the Tapestry Adoption Assistance Fund here.

Employer Benefits

More and more employers of all sizes are offering employees adoption benefits.  These benefits typically range from $2,000 to $10,000 and up, with the average benefit just above $6,000.  For more information visit

Adoption Subsidies

Certain children (including those with special needs) adopted from the state foster care system may qualify for a monthly subsidy to help parents pay for ongoing therapy, treatment, and services.  In addition, adoption support programs providing post-adoption services to adopted children and their families may be available, and in some states (such as Texas) college tuition (to a state university) and fee exemptions are available for eligible children adopted from foster care.  Click here for more detailed information regarding available adoption subsidies and assistance in the State of Texas.

Other Resources

Special Report: Affording

How We Afforded Our

Adoption Expenses: Where to Go for Help

Adoption Without Debt: Creative Ways to Cover the Cost of Adoption, by Julie Gumm

Disclaimer:  Tapestry and Irving Bible Church does not necessarily endorse or recommend any of the above organizations or financial assistance resources.  In addition, this document is not intended to constitute, nor does it represent, legal or tax advice of any kind.  For questions about any of the above listed resources or to discuss issues relating to the costs of adoption, please contact Michael Monroe at [email protected].

Copyright 2012 Tapestry, a ministry of Irving Bible Church

Also Found In: Cost & Funding, Getting Started, Resources for Churches, Resources for Families, Tapestry Blog