If you're planning to adopt, you're probably expecting (and saving for) legal costs. But the total cost of an adoption can also include a lot of expenses you might not be ready for. Bureaucratic red tape, agency fees, medical bills and even those planned-for legal fees can all balloon under the right circumstances.
For domestic adoptions that take place in the United States, the main cost factors are the age of the child and whether he or she is currently in foster care. If you're adopting an infant, the cost could be anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000, in part because more parents are looking for infants than there are infants available to adopt. Birth mothers usually choose which parents will adopt their children, so if, for example, an adoption attorney is helping to connect you with parents, not being chosen quickly can cause your costs to escalate. Many infant adoptions also involve paying medical bills for the mother.
The costs to adopt a foster child, particularly an older child, tend to be significantly lower. Whether you adopt an older foster child already in your care or one who is staying in a group home, the cost is usually between $0 and $3,500. These costs cover things like a home study, attorney fees and miscellaneous costs for travel [source: Building Your Family]. Federal tax credits for adoption, which can be up to $12,000 or $13,000 dollars, ease the burden even further, to the point that many parents who adopt a foster child end up paying nothing.
When it comes to international adoption, costs vary wildly depending on which country you're adopting from. Median adoption fees for Kenya, for instance, were $6,250 in 2013, but most of the countries that the US State Department keeps statistics for hover around the $15,000 range. If you're adopting from Albania or South Africa, you can expect to pay around $27,000 [source: U.S. State Department]. Keep in mind, though, that these statistics are median fees, not the average, so the range of fees could be much higher or lower. Travel costs also make international adoption potentially much more expensive than a domestic adoption, as some countries require multiple, extended visits for potential families before the adoption can take place.