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International Adoption Costs and the Nitty Gritty Breakdown

by McKenna on January 27, 2009
category: Adoption

1003609_dollar_2.jpg You don’t need to have considered adoption to know that international adoptions are incredibly expensive.  What most people don’t know is how those tens of thousands of dollars are distributed.  Something I have learned on our adoption journey is that the cost of adoption is not typically due to money hungry villains who are taking advantage of men and women who desperately long to be called “Mommy” and “Daddy.”  Since all of you have learned I am not private about anything, I thought I would outline the costs of our adoption for the curious.  Long before adoption was ever on my mind as a real possibility, I was curious about why adoptions are so expensive.

While the cost to adopt varies between countries and other variables, I would love to give you an idea of how much adoptions cost and why they’re so expensive.  Our adoption is an independent adoption, which means we are not using the assistance of an American adoption agency.  We have a facilitator in our daughter’s country who is handling everything on that side of the world while we are taking care of everything on the US side of our adoption.  While this creates a few more headaches, it is saving us money that would typically be paid to an American adoption agency.  However, it also means we are not eligible to apply for as many adoption grants, so what we may have recouped in grants, we are saving by not paying an agency.  Although, adoption grants are  incredibly difficult to come by due to basic supply and demand philosophies!

So, how much does our international adoption cost and why is it so expensive?  I’ll tell you.  We’re conservatively estimating that our final bill for Reese’s adoption is going to be between $22,000 and $24,000.  In our case, her special needs do not decrease the adoption costs by much.  They are only possibly decreasing the time we spend in her country and taking off some lodging and basic travel expenses.

I’m going to break our adoption costs into two categories: Administrative Expenses and Travel Expenses.  I haven’t included specific estimates in every category, but you will get a very clear picture of how our adoption costs are distributed by this outline.

Administrative Expenses:

  • Home Study (varies between $1,000-$3,000)
  • Facilitator fees (around $8,000) (The facilitator is responsible for a LOT!  He or she translates all of our documents, submits them to court, and then will hold our hands through every step of the way when we are in country.  This fee also includes a generous donation to our daughter’s orphanage, interpretation services, and transportation while we’re in the country’s capitol city).
  • Petition to United States Immigration office to bring an orphan home (about $1,000)
  • Document requests (birth certificates, marriage licenses, house deeds, etc…) and mailing documents to our facilitator in country ($200)
  • Visa for child adopted ($400)
  • Medical exam for child adopted ($100)
  • Medical exams for parents ($200)

Travel Expenses:

  • Airfare for two round trips for Mom and Dad ($4,000)
  • One way ticket for our daughter to come home!!! (The most exciting purchase we will make!) ($1,000)
  • Lodging in country for four to six weeks (on two separate trips)
  • Transportation while in country ($500)
  • Meals in country

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series with information on how the average Joe in an unstable economy can make adoption more affordable! 

6 Responses to International Adoption Costs and the Nitty Gritty Breakdown

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Melissa
    January 27, 2009 @ 9:24 pm

    This is really interesting. I’ve long thought about adoption and never have included travel expenses as part of the “cost.” Makes sense, though…and a lot more affordable. (I guess I though travel would be on top of what they say adoption costs…)

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Julia
    January 28, 2009 @ 9:03 am

    One thing to mention is that a lot of countries won’t let you work with a facilitator, and require families to work with an agency.

  • Comment by McKenna
    January 28, 2009 @ 10:50 am

    Julia,
    That is absolutely true! Some countries do require adoption agencies. So, in that case, you would pay the agency and not a facilitator. Depending on your agency fees (which I am guessing are typically higher than facilitators??), the cost to adopt internationally would be altered from what we are spending.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Ginger
    January 30, 2009 @ 11:37 am

    Something to consider, adopting from foster care is often very inexpensive or even free. We are going through the process in Texas and our only expense was the CPR/First Aid class. And there are so many children just hoping for parents in the foster care system. Just something to consider, not all adoptions are expensive & overseas.

  • Gravatar February 2, 2009 @ 8:18 pm

    [...] Last week, I highlighted the cost of international adoptions {specific to our adoption}.  The cost of adoption is one of the biggest deterrents for folks in taking this avenue  to expanding their family.  It was certainly one of our biggest discussions before we decided to dive in to our adoption.  This week, I would love to share with you some ways to make international adoption more affordable! [...]

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Nicole
    August 30, 2009 @ 10:57 am

    One of the things that I am wondering is the breakdown of some of the costs you listed above. For example, why does it cost $1-3K for a home study? We’ve just completed Foster coursework through the state, and so we have gone through the homestudy process…and I’m not saying that there isn’t a cost involved with the homestudy (whether we paid for it directly or not)…I’m just having a hard time trying to figure out how it ends up in $1-3K. Another question that I have, as we have been looking at international adoption, is related to something I saw listed on our description of expenses/fees sheet for one of the available countries. It happened to be Columbia, but one of the fees listed from the country was $7-11K for Humanitarian Aid to Columbia…why is this a part of the adopotion fee? I’ve seen the fees delineated and listed, I’m just hung up on some of the things that are listed and how they come up with that number as the fee…any help?

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