Why Is Adoption So Expensive?


why adoption is so expensiveWe hear this question all the time. It seems logical that when a person wants to adopt and add to their family, the cost to the family should not be $25-40,000 (average international adoption). It seems unreasonable to have high expenses associated with such a loving process. Some find adoption expenses appalling while others come to understand it. As adoption professionals we continually struggle to find ways to be more financially efficient and to protect our client’s financial investment in an adoption, while providing competent, attentive adoption services.

Adoption expenses should always be connected with a reasonable service. There should never be an expense that is inducing an adoption, which might be considered “baby buying”. There are some individuals that want to profit from a child like a commodity. This makes our stomachs turn. However, there seems to be little argument that when professional services are rendered payment is appropriate. Many individuals are paid for compassionate, loving services such as pastors, counselors, doctors, etc.

Approximation of fees to expect during the inter-country adoption process:

  • Agency/attorney fees – $4,000-8,000
  • Home Study – $1,500-3,000
  • USCIS – $3,000-3,500
  • Translations – $1,500-5,000
  • Foreign Fees – $6,000-25,000
  • Travel – $4,000-12,000
Other fees may include education, foster care, passports, vaccinations etc.


Numerous government entities are involved in the adoptions process. Ultimately, this is in an effort to protect the children. In the international adoption process the following entities may be involved in your adoption: a home study agency representing state requirements, a local court, Secretary of State, Federal agency (USCIS), U.S. State Department, Foreign Adoption Ministry, Foreign Ministries, and Domestic and Foreign Courts and Embassies. Each of these may require fees or other processes that require investment.

Investment of time and money is required to develop and maintain international adoption programs. Each program requires numerous trips to that country. One trip may cost an agency $6-12,000, yet they are invaluable to safeguard prospective adoptive parents and the adoption process, as well as to provide knowledgeable adoption services. Business expenses include offices, computers, insurance, postage, advertising, etc. Adoption agencies have additional expenses associated with licensing, accreditations, and insurance/bonding required by law in addition to what is required of a typical business.

MLJ Adoptions Inc. has determined that program development and maintenance will be more than 75 percent of our overhead as that provides the most benefit to our clients/children. In addition, MLJ Adoptions’ advertising budget is less than three percent of our expenses in an effort to keep overhead down. MLJ Adoptions uses co-operatives for office space and equipment, reducing that cost. In addition, we continually examines the expenses in our programs to keep overhead down while sustaining competent, attentive service. Our adoption programs range from $27-44,000. Exact travel costs cannot be known and cost for authentications and translations varies based on the number of pages. This range is intended to give the adoptive parents a realistic idea of the total cost of adoption. Be careful not to be fooled by low quotes for adoption expenses as the provider may not be including costs for USCIS, travel, etc. (often paid directly by the parents). Our team includes several adoptive parents; we know adoption is expensive. Each client receives a guide for raising adoption funds. We often host free seminars on Affording Adoption as well. Our team is committed to supporting clients. We don’t want money to prevent you from adopting!

Photo Credit: kwod

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.