American adoption expenses

Svetlana March 03 2022

Adoption expenses can vary widely, but there are some general categories of expenses that are common to most adoptions. These include:

  • Home study fee
  • Fees for the adoption agency or attorney
  • Travel expenses
  • Court costs
  • Living expenses for the child (if applicable)

The exact cost of adoption will depend on a number of factors, including the type of adoption, the country of origin, and any special needs of the child. Prospective adoptive parents should speak with an adoption professional to get an estimate of what their particular adoption might cost.

What expenses to expect?

If you decided to adopt a child, no matter whether that is an international or domestic adoption, you will pay. There are no such things as free adoptions. The child’s needs, the country’s regulations, and your personal circumstances will affect the total cost of adoption.

The first step in preparing for the financial side of adoption is to calculate what kind of an adoptive family you will be. You will also have to decide which type of adoption works better for you. After that, research the average cost of adoption under your specific circumstances. 

Adoption costs break down into two distinct categories: agency fees and direct expenses related to the care of the child prior to his or her placement with you. These two types of fees are often confused, but they are quite different.

Agency Fees: 

These are the fees charged by the licensed adoption agency that you have selected to help you with your adoption. They may include home study fees, counseling and support services, administrative costs, and fees for other professional services required by the agency or state in which you live. These fees are paid regardless of whether you adopt a child from within the U.S. or from another country. 

Direct Expenses: 

These expenses are associated with the care of the child prior to placement and may include medical care, foster care, international adoption program fees, travel expenses, and legal costs. These fees vary widely depending on the child's country of origin and his or her individual needs. Many of these expenses are tax-deductible.

Home study fee: 

The home study is a required step in both domestic and international adoptions. A social worker will visit your home to make sure it is safe and suitable for a child, and to get to know you and your family. The home study fee covers the cost of the social worker's time, as well as any reports or background checks that may be required. 

Fees for the adoption agency or attorney: 

Adoption agencies and attorneys charge fees for their services. These fees may be paid on an hourly basis, or as a flat fee. Many agencies have sliding scale fees, based on the adoptive family's income. 

Travel expenses: 

If you are adopting a child from another country, you will need to travel to that country to meet the child and complete the adoption process. Travel expenses may include airfare, hotel costs, ground transportation, visa fees, and immunizations. 

Court costs: 

Adoption finalization occurs in court, and there are associated court costs. These costs vary from state to state but may include the cost of the judge's time, filing fees, and other court-related expenses. 

Living expenses for the child (if applicable): 

If you are adopting a domestic infant or a child from foster care, there may be living expenses associated with the child prior to placement. These expenses may include prenatal care, birthmother expenses, or foster care costs. Many of these expenses are tax-deductible. 

These are not all expenses that you should expect while adopting a child. For more specific information, please consult with your adoption professional or financial advisor.

Where can you get financial help?

Adoption is a costly endeavor, but there are many resources available to help offset the costs. Here are some of the most common sources of financial assistance for adoption: 

Federal and state tax credits: 

The federal government and many states offer tax credits or deductions for adoptive families. These credits can be used to offset the cost of adoption, and in some cases, may be refundable. 

To get money from Federal and state tax credits you need to do the tax paperwork and file for it. At first, you have to pay the taxes, and then get the money back. The paperwork includes:

1. Filing an amended return for the year in which you adopted 

2. Documentation of your adoption expenses 

3. A letter from your adoption agency or attorney verifying that the child was placed with you for adoption

With this help, you can cover the adoption agency fees, legal fees, travel expenses, and other costs associated with adoption.

Employer benefits: 

Some employers offer financial assistance for adoption, either as a benefit of employment or through independent adoption assistance programs. These benefits may take the form of reimbursement for some or all of the qualifying adoption expenses, paid leave to bond with a new child, or both. Adoption assistance programs are not required by law, so availability and terms will vary from employer to employer. Be sure to check with your human resources department to see if your company offers any type of adoption benefits. 

Your employer may also offer a flexible spending account (FSA), which allows you to set aside pretax dollars from your paycheck to use for qualifying medical and adoption expenses. With an FSA, you can pay for certain adoption-related costs with pretax dollars, which can save you money on taxes.

Adoption loans: 

Many banks and lending institutions offer loans specifically for adoption-related expenses. These loans typically have low-interest rates and may offer flexible repayment options. Some adoption loans are even designed as lines of credit, which can be used as needed throughout the adoption process. Be sure to compare shops to get the best terms on an adoption loan.

For example, you can take a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which offers low-interest loans to help with the adoption of children from foster care. The loans can be used to pay for adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses associated with the adoption. 

Grants and scholarships: 

There are many organizations that offer grants and scholarships to families adopting children. These funds can be used to cover the costs of adoption, and in some cases, may be awarded based on financial need or other factors. Be sure to research any organization before applying for a grant or scholarship, as some have specific eligibility requirements. 

One example of an organization that offers grants is the National Adoption Foundation. The foundation provides grants of up to $5,000 to families adopting children with special needs. You can also search for scholarships specifically for adoptive families. For example, the Adoption-Link Scholarship Program offers scholarships of up to $1,500 to help offset the costs of adoption. 

Adoption subsidies: 

Adoption subsidies are available from state and local governments in some cases. Subsidies may be provided to families adopting children with special needs, including those with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. The subsidy may help to cover the cost of adoption, as well as the child’s medical and educational expenses. 

To get adoption subsidies you have to complete an adoption assistance agreement with the state. The amount of the subsidy and the length of time it is available will vary based on the needs of the child and the family’s financial circumstances. The paperwork consists of an application and a home study, as well as other required documentation. 

Tax benefits: 

The federal government offers a tax credit for qualifying adoption expenses, which can help offset the cost of adoption. The tax credit is non-refundable, which means it can only be used to reduce your tax liability, not to get a refund. The tax credit is available for both domestic and international adoptions and can be claimed in the year the expenses are incurred. 

To claim the tax credit, you will need to complete Form 8839 and file it with your taxes. You will also need to provide documentation of your eligible adoption expenses. The amount of the tax credit is based on the total amount of adoption expenses incurred, up to a maximum of $13,460 per child. 

There are other tax benefits that may be available to families who adopt. For example, if you adopt a child with special needs, you may be eligible for the federal adoption tax credit, as well as an exclusion from taxable income for employer-provided adoption assistance. 

Nonrecurring adoption expense reimbursement: 

In some cases, families who adopt may be eligible for reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses. These are one-time expenses that are incurred in connection with the placement of a child for adoption. Examples of nonrecurring adoption expenses include home study fees, attorney fees, and court costs. 

To be eligible for reimbursement, you must have an approved adoption assistance agreement in place with the state. The amount of reimbursement will vary based on the needs of the child and the family’s financial circumstances. 

The process of getting nonrecurring adoption expense reimbursement can be long and complicated. It is important to work with an experienced adoption attorney to ensure that you take all the necessary steps and submit all the required documentation. You have to be patient, as the process can take several months. 

Creative financing: 

There are a number of creative ways to finance the cost of adoption. Some families choose to adopt through a foster-to-adopt program, which can reduce or eliminate the cost of adoption. Other families may choose to adopt from a country with lower adoption fees. And still, others may fundraise to offset the cost of adoption. 

No matter how you choose to finance your adoption, it is important to do your research and understand all the costs involved. Adopting a child is a big financial commitment, but it can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

What financial help is the easiest to get? 

Federal government help is one of the easiest ways to get it because you just need to complete an adoption assistance agreement with the state and have all the required documentation. The tax credit is also non-refundable, which means it can only be used to reduce your tax liability, not to get a refund. 

Federal government help can be one of the most beneficial for those adopting because it can offer a tax credit to help offset the cost of adoption as well as an exclusion from taxable income for employer-provided assistance. 

What financial help is the hardest to get? 

Nonrecurring adoption expense reimbursement is one of the most difficult financial benefits to obtain. In order to be eligible for reimbursement, you must have an approved adoption assistance agreement in place with the state. The amount of reimbursement will vary based on the needs of the child and the family’s financial circumstances. 

The process of getting nonrecurring adoption expense reimbursement can be long and complicated. It is important to work with an experienced adoption attorney to ensure that you take all the necessary steps and submit all the required documentation. You have to be patient, as the process can take several months.

Can I claim my adopted child as a dependent? 

Yes, you can claim your adopted child as a dependent on your taxes. To do so, you will need to complete Form 8839 and file it with your taxes. You will also need to provide documentation of your eligible adoption expenses. The amount of the tax credit is based on the total amount of adoption expenses incurred, up to a maximum of $13,460 per child. 

A dependent child means that the child is a U.S. citizen or national, or a resident of the United States, Canada, or Mexico who has been lawfully admitted for permanent residence. The child must also be younger than 18, or 24 if the child is a full-time student. It will definitely be easier to claim the child as a dependent if the adoption is finalized before the end of the tax year. If you have any questions about claiming your adopted child as a dependent, you should speak to a tax advisor or adoption attorney.