Costs of Adopting: A Factsheet for Families
2. Universal Expenses
Universal expenses are incurred by everyone who adopts a child. (In some cases, they may be offset by reimbursements or other resources.) These expenses include home study expenses and court costs.
Home study expenses. A home study must be completed for all prospective parents, no matter what type of adoption they intend to pursue. In the case of foster care adoption, these most often are completed by the local public agency or its contractors; for other types of adoption, private agencies or certified social workers conduct the home study. The purpose of the home study is to prepare the prospective parents for the adoption, gather information about them so that an appropriate match between the child and parents can be made, and evaluate the fitness of the parents. Home studies culminate in the social worker's written report, which includes a recommendation about whether the prospective parents are qualified to adopt and, if so, what age child or children would be most appropriate. (For more information, read the NAIC's The Adoption Home Study Process.)
The cost for the home study is generally borne by the prospective parents. In the case of foster care adoption, there may be no charge for conducting the home study, although parents may incur fees for medical or psychological evaluations that may be required as part of the process. With other types of adoption, the private agency or certified (or licensed) social worker may charge $1,000 to $3,000 for the home study. In some cases, the fee for the home study may be included in the overall agency fee. Information about all fees should be provided in writing by the agency or social worker, and prospective parents should ask for such information.
Legal fees. All domestic adoptions and some intercountry adoptions must be finalized in a court in the United States. Some intercountry adoptions are finalized in the child's country of origin. Although not required in these situations, parents often choose also to finalize the placement in a U.S. court to provide additional protection of their child's legal status. All of these procedures incur a cost. The cost for court document preparation can range from $500 to $2,000, while the cost for legal representation may range from $2,500 to $12,000 or more in some States. (Again, these costs may be reimbursable.) In some jurisdictions an adoption can be finalized without representation.
Go to Section 3: Adoption-Specific Expenses
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