Why Is Adoption So Expensive?

International Adoption
Graph showing adoption expenses

This is a graph showing, roughly, how the expense are distributed.  This is not a graph of St. Mary’s fees, but rather designed to give a general overview of the expenses associated with international adoption.  If you’d like to see our agency’s precise fees, please see the linked button below. 

Why Is Adoption So Expensive?


The reason adoption is so expensive is that it requires highly skilled and qualified people to help adoptive parents along the way.

Legally, in order to meet state and federal requirements, adoption agencies must hire experienced social workers with bachelor degrees and master degrees.  We all know that the higher education gets more compensation.

Additionally, the majority of fees are due in the foreign country.   The reason for that is that with most countries the adoption must go through the court system.  Therefore, you need attorneys, over the course of months, to oversee your adoption case and make sure everything meets the legal requirements.  These attorneys have to meet the legal requirements not only of the foreign country but also all Hague adoption requirements.

The foreign representatives, in addition to court proceedings, also handle working with the foreign government, or Central Authority, that is in charge of overseeing international adoption, per the Hague Convention, for the protection of children.

Before a child can become eligible for international adoption, the child must have its parental rights terminated by a local court (in the foreign country).   This process is overseen by the foreign country’s government, the same body that oversees the entire international adoption per Hague regulations, for the protection of both the children and the families trying to adopt them.

In most countries, these governments, or Central Authorities, will often have a lengthy accreditation process in order to allow local agencies to assist with the adoption services.  Therefore, the local adoption agencies providing services for international adoption have many costs to incur before they can receive the right to work in this field.

Overhead, and cost associated with accreditation is also a factor domestically.  US agencies who want to provide adoption services must acquire local license from the state and a federal accreditation.  Obtaining these certificates is not an easy task.  It often times requires hiring a special person at the agency who is solely responsible for maintaining the agency’s accreditation.  Or if such a person is not hired on a full time basis, the agency leadership often is chosen to be able to handle these requirements.  Our agency’s president, for example has a Ph.D.  She has the credentials, and higher education needed to make sure the agency is aligned well legally with all parties necessary, including the IRS and other federal authorities.

Therefore, for the protection of the children and adoptive families, there are safeguards that require certain standards, which in turn require resources and “know how”.  All these factors contribute to why adoptions is expensive.

However, as Americans, we have so many financing options available.  International adoption is expensive as it can cost between $30,000 and $40,000.

However, if we take an honest look at our finances, we spend this much, or more on other things.  House mortgage?  A car payment?    Student loans?  There are many examples.  But as with everything else, if there is a will, there is a way.

We’d also like to say that, and perhaps this is a bit biased since we only handle international adoption, but with international adoption, the fees don’t vary as widely as domestic adoption for example.

The reason for that is that the fees, described in most agencies’ contracts, are listed as fees for services.  Therefore, they are professional services provided for a fee that is agreed upon in advance.  While in domestic adoption, a lot of the expenses may be related to the biological mothers’ circumstances, including hospital bills, housing, food, counseling, etc.  These expenses for domestic adoption are more variable in nature.  Therefore, they cannot be predicted as precisely, or be agreed upon ahead of time compared to international adoption.

We’d like to say that though we know adoption is expensive, we’ve never had any parents regret their decision to adopt.  On the contrary, all the memories of the hard work (obtaining paperwork) and spending a lot of money completely vanishes the second your family is touched by an adoption of a child.  

Therefore, we encourage you to adopt a child.  Adopt a child internationally!  Adopt a child domestically! Do whatever you’re called to do that leaves the world with one less orphan! 

To God be the Glory,

From the Staff at Saint Mary International Adoptions

(As long as we’re on this topic, we’d like to share another article writen by our friends at Nightlight – https://www.nightlight.org/why-is-adoption-so-expensive/)