Adoption Talk Blog | A Baby Step Adoption

How Much Does Adoption Cost? How Long Does it Take?

Our clients often ask us how long they can expect to wait to adopt a child and the cost associated with adoption. At A Baby Step Adoption, we tout quick match times, and we can help you with resources to help fund your adoption. We are also lucky to have Barbara Casey, an adoption attorney, as the founder and head of our agency as well as other attorneys on staff to make the process go smoothly.

We wanted to share this article from Adoptive Families that explores the results of their annual Cost and TIming Adoption Survey. We are reporting on the results of the domestic newborn adoptions since we typically work on those kinds of adoptions here at A Baby Step, but for the full article, you can click here.  For more information about adoption and the options we offer to both adoptive families and women facing unplanned pregnancy, contact us

U.S. Newborn, via an Adoption Agency

Adoptions in 2014 (all U.S. newborn): 18,329*
Average cost: $42,337
Matched within 1 year: 64%
matched within 2 years: 84%

U.S. NEWBORN (AGENCY) COST

The average costs reported by families that adopted a U.S. newborn through an adoption agency in 2015/16 represented a 1.9% increase over the previous two-year reported average. The total costs for a domestic adoption via an agency are now about $10,000 more than adoption via an attorney, on average.

The total costs cited below exclude expenses associated with any “false starts” with expectant mothers. Thirty-six percent of all U.S. newborn respondents experienced one or more false starts. Of those families, 62% reported costs of less than $2,500 associated with each false start. Eight percent of all U.S. families with false starts were matched with an expectant mother who ultimately decided not to place the child after giving birth.

U.S. Newborn (Agency) – Average Cost Breakdown

Home study fee: $2,397

Document preparation & authentication: $955

Adoption agency application & program fees: $16,442

Adoption consultant fees: $1,999

Attorney fees: $4,337

Advertising/networking: $1,880

Birth family counseling: $1,069

Birth mother expenses: $3,919

Foster care: $71

Travel expenses: $2,117

Post-placement expenses: $2,063

All other expenses: $5,088

AVERAGE TOTAL**$42,337

** Average represents total costs before claiming the Adoption Tax Credit.

U.S. Newborn (Agency) families on their total cost:

“Our match happened late in the birth mother’s pregnancy, so there was not much birth family support expense. Our son’s birth expenses were paid by the state medical insurance. Also, the birth father released his rights up front, which helped decrease legal costs.”

“Our agency charges a flat $35,000 ‘not to exceed’ fee. They cap the fee regardless of false starts or a long wait.”

“I’m very fortunate to work for a company that has already reimbursed a portion of the adoption expenses, and I also plan to use the adoption tax credit when I file in 2017.”

“The National Down Syndrome Adoption Network connected us with a family who were looking to place their child. Most of the fees from agencies were reduced.”

“Our daughter was in the NICU for 16 days. This would have been very expensive, but her birth mother enrolled her in Medicaid, which lasted for 30 days after she was born. Only the birth mother can do this, and we didn’t even know she had until we never got medical bills and called the hospital to ask why.”

“Our agency had a sliding scale according to income.”

“The legal fees from courts in two states bumped us into higher-than-average expenses. It was a contested adoption.”

“We choose a national agency that charged about $10,000 more, but had faster placement times.”

“Overall, our adoption expenses were very high. Last-minute plane tickets and 14 days in a hotel for the ICPC waiting period added up. Our state also requires five follow-up home study visits.”

“We paid $3,000 extra in the profile fee because we were gender specific. Our post placement and legal fees were much higher because finalization took 10 months instead of three because the birth father contested the adoption.”

“We worked with one agency for two years and then switched to a different agency. Since we already had a home study in the state, our second agency waived that fee. We were fortunate to not have to travel out of state for our adoption.”

 

U.S. NEWBORN (AGENCY) TIMING

The average wait times reported by families that adopted a U.S. newborn through an adoption agency in 2015/16 were similar to the timing results from the 2014/15 survey. A larger proportion of families were matched later in the expectant mother’s pregnancy, however, with 40 percent of all U.S. newborn respondents matched less than one month before the baby was born. Fifteen percent were matched after the baby was born.

Total time to adopt as reported in this survey includes any time spent in false starts. In general, the fewer restrictions you place on the child you hope to adopt in terms of race, prenatal exposures, gender, and birth family contact, the shorter your wait will be.

U.S. Newborn (Agency) – Average Time to Be Matched

0-6 months 42%

6-12 months 22%

12-18 months 11%

18-24 months 9%

2-3 years 9%

3 years or longer 7%

 

U.S. Newborn (Agency) families on their total timeline:

“From the day we turned in our forms to receiving our child, it was about three months. We were open to races and medical situations, and that was in our favor.”

“We received the call the day after we were approved by our agency to be shown to expectant parents. The expectant mother was in labor early and needed a family. The baby was born in the early hours of the next morning.”

“We signed up with multiple agencies, which increased our exposure significantly.”

“I could explain why our adoption went so smoothly and quickly and offer reasons to help others, but all I can say is we got very lucky.”

“We waited about a year…then got the call and our daughter was already born.”

“We live in a small state with a small number of placements. This leads to a longer wait.”

“We were ‘picky’ by agency standards; we did not want any prenatal drug exposure, history of major mental illness, or any criminal history. I believe this is why our profile was shown so infrequently over our wait. I wish the agency had given us statistics, so we could have had more realistic expectations about our wait time in light of our checklist selections.”

“Our agency mostly works off a list, so we were prepared for a two to three year wait. It ended up being right at three years.”

“We switched agencies after two years. Our original agency had more affordable fees, but, in the end, didn’t have the resources to match us with an expectant mother. Our second agency moved very quickly, and we waited only about six weeks before we were matched and met our baby.”

 

* Total of 18,329 domestic adoptions in 2014 includes both agency and attorney adoptions. Source: Adoption: By the Numbers, from the National Council for Adoption.

U.S. Newborn, via an Adoption Attorney

Adoptions in 2014 (all U.S. newborn): 18,329*
Average cost: $31,890
Matched within 1 year: 68%
Matched within 2 years: 83%

U.S. NEWBORN (ATTORNEY) COST

The average costs reported by families that adopted a U.S. newborn through an adoption attorney in 2015/16 represented a 7.8% decrease from the previous two-year reported average.

When families adopt independently, through an attorney rather than through an adoption agency, their expenses can vary greatly. For example, expenses may be quite low if they match through word of mouth, the expectant mother’s expenses are minimal, and the legal procedure is straightforward. On the other hand, a family’s expenses can be much higher if they use online services or pay a consultant or a facilitator to work on their parent profile or find the match. The breakdown below includes agency expenses because some families began working with an agency, then switched to an attorney, or may have needed to work with an agency for the placement. The total costs cited below exclude expenses associated with any “false starts” with expectant mothers.

U.S. Newborn (Attorney) – Average Cost Breakdown

Home study fee: $2,006

Document preparation & authentication: $557

Adoption agency application & program fees: $4,111

Adoption consultant fees: $2,719

Attorney fees: $10,672

Advertising/networking: $1,632

Birth family counseling: $846

Birth mother expenses: $5,031

Foster care: $0

Travel expenses: $2,018

Post-placement expenses: $1,050

All other expenses: $1,248

AVERAGE TOTAL**$31,890

** Average represents total costs before claiming the Adoption Tax Credit.

U.S. Newborn (Attorney) families on their total cost:

“Our adoption was less costly than normal because we were introduced to the expectant mother by a mutual friend. We just paid for a lawyer, and some medical expenses.”

“It was less expensive because it was in state and the birth parents didn’t need too much in the way of expenses.”

“We created our own adoption website, were matched with our child’s birth mother in five weeks—and she was at the end of her pregnancy and had almost no living expenses. She was also in-state, so attorney expenses were low.”

“My second adoption was the result of my first. I wasn’t trying to adopt, but I was contacted by my son’s biological aunt asking me to adopt the child she was expecting.”

“My home study fee was high because I paid extra for it to be expedited. The birth mother had insurance, so I only paid her co-pays and deductibles. My insurance covered the birth of my son and my stay at the hospital with him.”

“The woman we were matched with didn’t have housing, so the birth parent expenses were much higher than we’d anticipated.”

“We matched when the expectant mother was only three months pregnant, so we supported her for a longer period of time. We also had a long (three weeks) ICPC period.”

“We completed a private, interstate adoption. So, the attorney fees were higher than we anticipated, but the costs were still lower than an agency adoption. We were quoted ‘placement fees’ of about $30,000 from agencies.”

 

U.S. NEWBORN (ATTORNEY) TIMING

The average wait times reported by families that adopted a U.S. newborn through an adoption attorney in 2015/16 were slightly longer than the timing results from the 2014/15 survey. Sixty-eight percent of families who completed this year’s survey were matched within one year, compared to 67% in the previous survey, and 83% were matched within two years (86% in previous survey). However, more families reported very short or very long timelines, with 53% matched in less than six months (46% in the previous survey) and 8% with wait times over three years (3% in the previous survey).

Total timelines as reported in this survey include any time spent in false starts. A larger percentage of U.S. attorney families match very quickly, compared with U.S. agency families, as this group includes families that match through word of mouth or online before seeking the services of an attorney. They may also actively search for a match rather than waiting on an agency’s list.

U.S. Newborn (Attorney) – Average Time to Be Matched

0-6 months 53%

6-12 months 15%

12-18 months 4%

18-24 months 11%

2-3 years 9%

3 years or longer 8%

U.S. Newborn (Attorney) families on their total timeline:

“We became parents before we even planned to start our search! We were matched through a family friend after we told our family that we intended to adopt.”

“I am in family medicine. One day, our daughter’s birth mother came into our offices in labor and wanted to place our daughter for adoption!”

“We signed on with an agency, and went through the home study process and classes, when a friend told us that the attorney she had used was working with two expectant mothers who were due soon. We switched to her, were matched, and our son was born two months later.”

“We went six false starts. Some were just contact that faded away, some were matches that fell through after the baby was born.”

“We had to coordinate with an agency in another state, and they seemed to keep messing up the paperwork.”

“The birth father contested the adoption, and then appealed the decision.”

“It seemed like we were on the list forever. In fact, we were thinking about stopping the process when we got the call that led to our daughter.”

 

* Total of 18,329 domestic adoptions in 2014 includes both agency and attorney adoptions. Source: Adoption: By the Numbers, from the National Council for Adoption.

 

<< Go back to the previous page