Making Adoption Affordable: 3 Myths and 6 Tips

Today is NATIONAL ADOPTION DAY which is the perfect opportunity to share how to make adoption a little more affordable for those who have been biting their nails over it.  I’m keeping it simple here and hope to point you in the right direction no matter where your search may take you.

But first, let’s start by busting a couple myths that might keep you from ever starting an adoption in the first place:

Myth #1: All adoptions are (crazy) expensive.

Fact: Adoptions range from virtually free to somewhere in the $40,000+ range.  (I’m hoping that number on the right is less scary by the end of this post!) The cost could include agency fees, home-study costs, paperwork and more.  Here’s some snapshots of why costs vary:

Adoptions of children through foster care adoption are typically FREE (state funded) and sometimes there’s even a monthly stipend for caring for the child pre-adoption.  Children in foster care adoption may get other financial benefits such as free state health care or sometimes even in state college tuition. (Our son has access to both of those options currently.)

Private adoptions aren’t covered through state funds, so cost varies based on agencies and situations.  In some cases, adoptive parents help cover birthparent expenses which may increase the overall adoption cost.

International adoptions fluctuate based on country and agency, and you have to factor in plane tickets costs as well.  There may also be additional medical costs if a child has been malnourished, unvaccinated, has an untreated medical condition, etc.

Unfortunately you won’t find a one-size-fits-all chart for adoption costs.  As others have suggested, go to an open house or info session and ask these questions up front with agencies.  That will give you a much clearer picture of what costs to expect for your own journey.

Myth #2: You have to make a ton of money to qualify for adoption.

The State (foster adoption) and agencies (both US and International) may provide different income guidelines.  But you don’t have to be wealthy to adopt.

When we adopted, I wasn’t making any income so we relied solely on my husband’s modest salary.  In fact, we were on State insurance which I feared would immediately disqualify us from adopting.  Our social worker assured us that we were OK and the state is more focused on whether families are able to cover their monthly expenses and care for a new child. What a relief!

Myth #3: I’ll never be able to afford the adoption I’m longing for.

If you’re hoping to adopt, you might be surprised at how many average, non-Richie Rich families have gone before you.  The cost of adoption can be prohibitive and overwhelming at times, but you’re not alone!  Although our foster-adoption came at virtually no cost to us, I want to leave you with the following 8 tips for raising funds and pursuing your adoption goal:

Tip #1: There’s More Than One Agency Out There…

When you start investigating adoption agencies, you might be tempted to assume that they all have essentially the same policies and fees.  This can cause you to give up quickly if you encounter an agency that doesn’t seem to fit with your financial needs or situation.

Don’t give up!

  • We turned down working with one agency that wanted all the money for the adoption up front before placement.  We simply didn’t feel comfortable with that.
  • We wouldn’t have financially qualified for private adoption through another agency.  (This was discouraging, but thankfully it didn’t stop us!)
  •  The third agency wouldn’t have disqualified us from adoption based on our income, and would have offered us a payment plan to afford our adoption after we were placed.

Keep trying till you find what works for you!

Tip #2: Grant Me a Grant!  There are numerous adoption grants available for adopting special needs, harder to place children, plain old financial need, etc.  Don’t be afraid to research and apply!

Check out this adoption grant link to get started and even request a free adoption funding kit!

Tip #3: Invite Family & Friends to Partner With Your Journey!

There can be a stigma around asking people for financial help, especially when not everyone understands our way of growing a family.  However, you’d be surprised how readily people want to pitch in.  Not everyone is able to adopt, but so many are excited to support others who do feel able.

You could send out support letters explaining your story and asking for financial help or perhaps talk with a family member about an interest free loan.  Check with your church or other community groups– they may be able to provide additional support.

If you’re uncomfortable asking for funds directly, definitely talk to friends and family about helping YOU raise money through tag sales, fundraiser events, or whatever crazy scheme you come up with! (More crazy schemes to follow!)

Tip #4: Take Advantage of Holidays

Friends of ours once fundraised by selling home-made ornaments around the Christmas season.  The ornaments were easy to make (and an easy amount to ask people to pay!)  The built in benefit is that people who purchase get to hear your story and remember you in their prayers and thoughts as they hang your decoration on their own family tree!

You could do similar crafts for sale around Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving…Get Creative!


Wow, have you been there recently?  A simple search for “fundraise for adoption” brought me straight to some amazing links like this one: “78 Adoption Fundraising Ideas”. Not only will you find some great ideas, you’ll discover other families like you who needed help making finances work.  (Knowing you aren’t alone is like chocolate to the soul…it makes everything better!)

Tip #6: Ditch the Piggy Bank and Fundraise ONLINE!

Even since three years ago social media has exploded and your options for reaching more people to help are incredible.  Sites like “Go Fund Me” enable you to raise money without having to physically canvas neighborhood for funds (which would be right at the top of my stressful dreams list.)


Pamela (sibling adoption from Ethiopia): We adopted siblings( brother 6 yr and sister 4yr) through international adoption from Ethiopia; we choose this way because God put it on both my husband and I to offer a home to children in need since we had been blessed so much materially but lacked the savings to begin. This agency had a fund to help with hard to place kids.The agency had us apply for funds available to help cover cost of agencies adoption costs and then we paid for home study fee, legal document fees, and travel expenses out of pocket. We did receive a large tax credit from US income tax in the year we finalized adoption.

Lisa (Private Adoption): At one point we did a small fundraiser but we mainly had help from our families.

**TAX CREDIT UPDATE: As of November 2017 the National Adoption Tax Credit has been saved!

If you want the full blown IRS account of what the adoption tax credit could mean for you, here’s a link!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *