How much does it cost to adopt a child? Do I have to be married? Own my home? Here's answers to many misconceptions about adoption from someone who knows.
Published: March 29, 2016
By: Stephanie Rodda
Adoption is becoming more common and we are hearing more and more about it, which is good. Sometimes, however, what we hear may lead to many misconceptions. We hear the stories of celebrities who have adopted. We see where friends and friends of friends are having adoption fundraisers. We celebrate with people we know as they post photos on social media of trips overseas to meet their children for the first time.
We see all of this and soon we begin to conclude that adoption can be very expensive and even though we might have considered adoption ourselves, we may begin to systematically rule ourselves out. After all, many of us aren’t wealthy and we could never afford that. We don’t own our own home. We aren’t married. We aren’t the right age. We would surely never qualify.
Donna Brock, a recruitment specialist for Alabama Pre/Post Adoption Connections (APAC) and Alabama State Department of Human Resources (DHR), says that the three most common misconceptions most people have about adoption qualifications are the cost of adoption, marital status, and personal wealth.
Two of these three top misconceptions concern money. Many of the people who call the adoption information hotline Brock answers assume they must be in a position to invest a lot of money and therefore, make a lot of money. For accurate answers and information you can rely on, you can call 1-866-425-5437. Often callers are concerned that they must meet criteria that don’t exist.
How much does it cost to adopt? This is a question that is often asked and commonly misunderstood. In order to accurately answer this money matter, another matter must first be clarified. There are many adoption options and while some of them can be, not all of them are costly.
While all adoptions have common factors such as home studies and background checks, they can vary greatly when it comes to cost. All adoptions are not the same and if money, or a lack of it, is what has kept you from following up on a desire to add a child to your family you may want to get the facts.
While a private or international adoption can cost tens of thousands of dollars, an adoption through the state or county foster care system can be practically cost free, according to Brock. While there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to this beautiful way of building a family, there is a question to consider. Which type of adoption is right for you?
My husband and I have adopted seven children. Out of seven adoptions, six were assisted by social workers and the Department of Human Resources. Not only are subsidies available for financial assistance during the adoption process, but also possible subsidies to help with special needs, insurance benefits, or other identified issues such as attorney fees. Both state and federal programs participate in these subsidies and while the exact subsidy amount and details vary, most will continue until 18 years of age and according to special circumstances, possibly until 21.
According to the government-published Child Welfare Information Gateway document Costs of Adoption, many public agencies waive home study costs, (and) reimburse most or all expenses. See https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubpdfs/s_costs.pdf for the full document.
Pamela* and her husband, now in the adoption process, discussed their options and chose private domestic adoption as the route they would take. Having one son that they were still raising in the home was a factor in their decision. They researched how the addition of a child into the home older than him might impact their family dynamics. The cost of private adoption was one they were comfortable with and although there was a several-year wait, they were able to adopt an infant and fulfill their dream.
Bethany* and her husband, in also mid-adoption, decided to adopt after having one biological child and were inspired by Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman’s adoption of a daughter from China. The more they read and learned about the process of international adoption, the more convinced they were that this was the route they were to take. It wasn’t easy and it was costly, but by drawing on their savings and supportive family members, they were able to adopt not once, but twice from China.
Diana* and her husband, now foster parents, have chosen to foster-adopt. They have not adopted yet but are well on their way as newly state trained and licensed foster parents for the state of Alabama. Cost was definitely a factor. Like many others who are seeking adoption, they had attempted a number of medical procedures for infertility treatments. Such an experience can be both emotionally and financially exhausting. Their hearts were influenced by a strong faith and the answer seemed clear, they say. By becoming foster-adoptive parents they could reach out to the children in need in their own area as well as have the opportunity to adopt a child when it was possible.
As you consider the adoption options before you, remember: You do not have to be wealthy, married, own your own home, have a college degree, be a stay-at-home parent or necessarily spend a lot of money to adopt a child.
There are other resources other than DHR. One of the most helpful we have found is the Children’s Aid Society in Birmingham. It has a number of supports in place for both pre-adoptive and post-adoptive families. We have benefited from counseling services, an extensive adoption library and adoption-related events. They have listings of Alabama’s waiting children as well as many other helpful resources for those considering adoption or waiting for that placement call. More information can be found at or by calling the adoption hotline provided above.
If being affluent were a requirement for adopting a child, many of us, including myself and my husband, would not qualify. Thankfully, while adoption does require home studies, patience, training, screening and effort, it does not necessarily require large amounts of money. I’m thankful that is the case. My life has been made richer because of our children whom we have adopted. I’m so glad foster-adoption was an option we could not only afford but was the best choice for building our family.
Stephanie Rodda is a freelance writer and author who resides in the Birmingham area with her husband and children. She and Henry were Alabama state-licensed foster parents for fifteen years and adopted seven children by foster-adoption. In addition to writing articles, devotionals and blogging, Stephanie has recently published her first fictional novel, How Then Shall We Live? which can be purchased at Amazon.com.
*Names were changed to protect privacy.