Why is adoption so expensive? Or is it?

A comparison of the cost of public, private and international adoptions

By Focus on the Family Canada staff

People who may be interested in adoption often do not take the next step because they have heard that adoption is very expensive. But is this true or not?

Public adoption

Public adoption in Canada, that is, adopting a child who is in foster care, is not expensive at all. Usually the only costs families bear in adopting through the foster system are costs associated with criminal record checks and medical assessments. These usually total under $300.

The provincial government covers the remaining costs involved. In some provinces, in fact, the government will provide some form of ongoing financial support to the family, ranging from payments for services needed to parent the child (i.e., medical services, counselling, respite care), to a monthly subsidy that follows the child until they are an adult.

Private and international adoptions, however, can be very expensive. Here’s a look at what all that money pays for.

Private domestic adoption

Costs range from about $5,000 to $20,000, averaging about $12,000.

These costs cover the work of the adoption provider. This is usually an agency, but in some areas it may be a licensee and/or social worker. Your payment allows them to:

  1. Provide you with training;
  2. Conduct your home study, including several interviews, then produce a written report and have it reviewed by the agency director;
  3. Counsel you through the adoption process;
  4. Facilitate the adoption at the hospital;
  5. Do follow-up visits;
  6. Write reports and file paperwork for finalization;
  7. Provide the birth parents with counselling and support pre- and post-adoption. An agency often counsels birth parents who end up choosing not to place their baby for adoption, so all families help contribute to the cost of that time invested.

There may be additional expenses for travel if a worker has to drive a significant distance to work with the birth parent and/or facilitate the placement. Be sure to ask about these costs when you choose an agency.

Adoption agencies can give you cost estimates and a schedule of when fees will be charged. Usually you will be asked to pay for each service as it is provided.

International adoption

Costs range from about $15,000 to over $50,000, and depend on the country and program you choose.

The fee covers expenses that fall into three broad categories:

  1. Pre-adoption expenses in Canada – If you adopt internationally, your adoption agency will need to provide you with the same training, home study and paperwork required for a domestic adoption. There may also be costs for document translation and notarizing, as well as post-placement reports. These costs will vary depending on the requirements of the country you choose.
  2. Adoption expenses – Fees incurred in the child’s country usually cover a lawyer’s services, the orphanage’s costs incurred in caring for your child prior to placement, and fees to finalize the adoption. These costs vary greatly and may be quite high, depending on the country.
  3. Travel costs – Most international adoptions require the adopting parent(s) to travel to the country to receive their child. Some require parents to appear in court prior to finalization of the adoption and this will necessitate travelling twice, obviously incurring double the cost.

    Often families are asked to travel on short notice, minimizing opportunities for cost-efficient travel. Some programs offer escort services either to assist families while in the country, or to bring the child home to you, but this service has fees attached, too.

You may have some control over these expenses. The program you choose should be able to give you a reliable estimate that’s based on what other families have had to pay to complete an adoption.

Tax deductions

The Canadian government provides tax benefits to Canadian families who incur adoption expenses. Check out this link to find out what deductions you can claim.