The Hidden Costs of Adoption


When families begin researching adoption and comparing costs of one country to another or one adoption agency to another, they often do not think of a cost that is not as obvious to them. Most adoption agencies don’t list it in their fee sheets and mot adoptive parents do not speak of such costs. What are we hiding?

The truth is we are not hiding the cost. However one financial piece of the puzzle is often left unspoken, and that is the cost of follow up therapy and/or appointments that may be necessary once your child comes home. Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, Dieticians, Tutors, Counselors and possibly time off of work are just a few of the costs that we often do not think about when we are calculating the cost of adoption.

At MLJ Adoptions, we are passionate about our families receiving education they need to help them make their adoptions as successful as possible. This passion for education was born from working with children and families, our own education about adoption and the children we help. For me personally it has been about raising my family and experiencing the disappointment, the frustration, and the suffering that drives me to encourage families to make the most of the adoption education.

In the classes offered at MLJ, we truly only scratch the surface of what families need to know and we strive to find the balance of educating yet not terrifying families. The needs of these children can be difficult to handle and many families choose to believe that it could not happen to them. It is my personal belief that we go through situations so that we can help others that come after us. I believe my personal experience provides me with insight for the families I work with and their expectations. I too came in to adoption with the “and they lived happily ever after” mindset, believing that love was what was the only thing they needed. However, the challenges that my family faces are the reality that parents choose to often overlook.

Your child may need the help of a psychologist to overcome their past and to make peace with what they have been through. Your child may have sensory issues and the need of an occupational therapist to help. The daily diet that your child has may be intensifying behavior. Your child may experience learning disorders due to trauma and neglect. The pressure and frustration you may experience could result in the need for a counselor to help you work through it. Your child may need more one on one after coming home to establish trust and security, are you prepared to stay home to work through this?

Questions that families need to consider:

    1. Does your insurance cover this?
    2. Do you have money set aside for this?
    3. Do I have the support system needed?
    4. Do I have access to resources?
    5. Is my school prepared to accommodate my child’s needs?


I agree with this quote by David Bailey, “The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is power and to keep reading”. The wait period during an adoption often goes wasted. Families do not always take full advantage of the time that they could be using to prepare for their child. Parents can begin learning how to recognize sensory issues, how to determine if a child’s diet needs changing, reading publications by professionals such as Dr. Karen Purvis’s book “The Connected Child” or Heather T. Forbes’ book “Beyond Consequences” as well as many other books that will offer insight and understanding. During the wait for a referral is a great time to focus on education, learning about what to expect, preparing for the worst while expecting the best.

Whether you are adopting from Bulgaria or adopting from Nicaragua, adopting internationally or domestically, by planning ahead and considering the “what ifs” families can be better prepared for the hidden costs of adoption and be equipped to make their adoption successful.

Photo Credit: marin

Lydia Tarr works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptions’ programs in Bulgaria and Ukraine. She is the adoptive mother of four children from Ukraine and was recognized as a 2013 Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) Angels in Adoption Program.