There are a variety of expenses that may be included in adoption fees, leading to broad cost ranges. The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC) estimates the following costs for different types of adoptions:
|Type of Adoption||Cost|
|Domestic - Foster Care||$0 - $2,500|
|Domestic - Private Agency||$4,000 - $30,000|
|Domestic - Independent||$8,000 - $30,000|
|International - Agency or Independent||$7,000 - $25,000|
Basic service charges included in U.S. adoption costs are: home study and parent education, post-placement supervision, attorney fees and court costs. Additional charges may be incurred depending on the adoption type pursued. With domestic adoptions -- private agency and independent -- fees may include: birth parent expenses, including legal representation and counseling, and birth expenses. In international adoption, additional costs include dossier and immigration processing and may also include for foster care, escorting, and medical care and treatment charges. Additionally, there are transportation and accommodation costs involved in travel to the country where the child resides. Other disparities in cost may be due to the range of services provided, the state in which the adoption is arranged, the amount of federal and state tax credits and subsidies, and the availability of employer adoption benefits and agency sliding-fee scales based on family income. A more detailed analysis of adoption fees can be found on the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse website.
Foster Care Subsidies
Parents adopting special needs children from foster care may be eligible for federal or state adoption assistance for costs of ongoing services the children may require. Additionally, state subsidies for reimbursement of non-recurring adoption expenses (such as court costs and attorney fees) are available. Families can receive federal assistance if the child was eligible for other types of federal assistance prior to adoption. Families not eligible for federal assistance can receive state subsidies that vary with respect to the level of reimbursement and eligibility criteria, but must negotiate them with the placing agency prior to adoption finalization. For comprehensive state-by-state information on adoption subsidies and other government benefits, see the North American Council on Adoptable Children website.
Adoption Tax Credits
The 2001 tax law increased the adoption tax credit for all adoptions to $10,000, an increase from $5,000 for private domestic and international adoptions and $6,000 for special needs adoptions. Families earning up to $150,000 (increased from $75,000) can claim the full credit. Beginning in 2002, families adopting domestically or internationally can claim the $10,000 per child income tax credit toward qualified adoption expenses such as adoption agency and attorney's fees and court costs. Beginning in 2003, taxpayers adopting children with special needs will no longer have to document "qualified" adoption-related expenses to claim the credit. This change is important because in 1998, only 15 percent of adoptive parents of special needs children submitted such documentation, most likely because they incurred unqualified post-placement expenses for ongoing medical and counseling services.
Employer-Provided Adoption Benefits
The 2001 tax law also increases the amount of tax-free employer adoption assistance, permanently raising the limit to the amount of qualified adoption expenses for a child that is not special needs and $10,000 for a special needs child. The National Adoption Center reports that 486 U.S. employers, including major corporations and universities, provide one or more of the following adoption benefits: financial reimbursement, resource and referral, and paid or unpaid leave. Three-quarters of these employers provide financial reimbursement and, of these, 143 provide a benefit of $4,000.
 National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, Cost of Adopting (updated Aug. 2, 2000), available at www.calib.com/naic/pubs/s_cost.htm.
 The Public Health and Welfare, 42 U.S.C. § 673; Ragan, Cynthia, SUBSIDIZED ADOPTION: A SOURCE OF HELP FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS AND THEIR FAMILIES, National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (updated Feb. 27, 2001) available at http://www.calib.com/NAIC/pubs/f_subsid.htm.
 Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 107-16, § 202 (June 7, 2001). [Additionally, credit and income limits will be subject to cost-of-living adjustments starting in 2003.]
 REPORT TO CONGRESS ON TAX BENEFITS FOR ADOPTION, at 2, U.S. Department of the Treasury (Oct. 2000), available at http://www.ustreas.gov/taxpolicy/library/adoption.pdf.
 [This change takes effect in 2003, as do cost-of-living adjustments for credit and income limits.] Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 107-16, § 202 (June 7, 2001).
 Employers Offering Adoption Benefits, Adoption and the Workplace Project, National Adoption Center (June 30, 2001), available at http://www.adopt.org/datacenter/faces/emplist.html.