Adopting a child can be a priceless experience. The adoption process, however, can be a costly one. Adoption costs for home studies, medical exams, legal counsel and other requirements can vary greatly depending on the type of adoption you choose and the state where you live.

Adoption costs have a wide range depending on several factors. Foster care adoptions typically cost less than domestic or foreign adoptions but the cost of each kind still may vary by state. Regardless of which option you choose, your budget should be an important factor in your adoption process.

Here’s a quick review of four different types of adoption and the costs associated with them:

1) Foster care adoption costs

As of 2019, it was estimated that more than 120,000 U.S. children were waiting to be adopted through state foster care agencies, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. While infants are occasionally offered through foster care, the majority of foster care children are older. The median age of children in foster care was 7.7 in 2017. Depending on state laws, kids in foster care may come with additional special needs or circumstances, such as a requirement to keep siblings together as part of an adoption.

Foster care adoptions are typically the least expensive option1. Costs can range up to $2,000, but thanks to Federal and State adoption assistance programs, foster care adoptions could have greatly minimized expenses. Public foster care agencies may often waive home study costs. Court costs and legal fees can also be reimbursed. Depending upon family income, adoption tax credits may be available to help defray additional adoption expenses.

2) Private agency adoption costs

Choosing to adopt a child can be an emotional process. Private adoption agencies specialize in pairing families with birth mothers. Because they’ve worked with hundreds (if not thousands) of families in similar situations, they may very well be in an ideal position to understand the questions, concerns, and challenges that can arise during the adoption process.

The cost for an adoption through an adoption agency1 ranges from $20,000 to $45,000. These adoption costs can include home study expenses, birth parent counseling, adoptive parent preparation and social work services needed to match a child to a prospective family.

When working with a private adoption agency, be sure to get a clear listing of its services. Many agencies offer the ability to pay in installments, tied to certain benchmarks within the process. Knowing when certain fees are due can help you budget.

3) Independent adoption costs

It’s not uncommon for adoptive families and birth mothers to find each other without the help of an agency. In these situations, an attorney usually works with the adoptive and birth parents to develop an appropriate schedule to pay for medical and other expenses.

The cost for an independent adoptions through an attorney1 ranges from $15,000 to $40,000. But independent adoptions may not include the levels of education or support offered by private agencies. It’s also important to note independent adoptions may be less predictable and may result in unexpected situations. As a result, expenses may run higher.

Another consideration in independent adoptions is that costs may not be reimbursable if the birth mother changes her mind and chooses to raise the child instead.

4) Foreign adoption costs

Adoption costs for children outside of the United States can vary widely depending upon the country you decide to adopt from, the needs of the child and other factors.

Costs for foreign adoptions can include:

  • Child’s medical care and treatment
  • Travel and lodging in the child’s home country
  • Foreign attorney’s fees
  • Foreign agency’s fees
  • Passport fees
  • Visa processing fees and costs of visa medical examinations
  • Translation fees

Foreign adoption cost estimates1 range between $20,000 and $50,000. That includes the expenses listed above but requirements for prospective parents to travel to the foreign country and stay for an extended period of time could inflate fees. In addition, charges from the foreign country can also have a significant impact.

I know I want to adopt: now how do I pay for it?

Many companies offer adoption benefits for their employees. A good first step: Check if your company’s human resources department offers adoption benefits.

With adoption costs that can be up to $40,000, you may need an additional resource to help you take care of bills that can spring up. A Discover® personal loan of up to $40,000 could be an excellent option for financing an adoption. With fixed rates and various repayment timelines, some soon-to-be parents may prefer a personal loan to help with both predictable and unexpected adoption costs. No matter how you choose to finance your adoption, the journey will be a priceless experience.

Learn more about the benefits of a personal loan from Discover.