Wondering How To Pay for Adoption? Here Are Some Alternatives

Adopting a child is a wonderful life-changing decision that can fill the hearts of parents and children alike. However, the cost of adoption can be extremely high, something that might discourage potential parents. Depending on the type of adoption, the costs sometimes range from $20,000 to $50,000. Although these expensive upfront costs are necessary to cover adoption fees like home study, agency, legal, and travel fees, they can make adoption seem out of reach for many families. 

Nonetheless, there are several ways adoption can be made more affordable. Options such as government assistance, grants, loans, fundraising, and strategies for personal savings are available for those who wish to bring a child into a loving home but are faced with the high prices of it. With proper planning and research, you can reduce the overall costs of adoption using these alternative funding options. In this article, we will discuss how to pay for adoption with some of the best options available so you can follow your dream of growing your family without breaking the bank.

Government Assistance

One of the most valuable resources for covering adoption costs is government assistance. At the federal level, the adoption tax credit allowed adoptive parents to claim up to $15,950 in qualified adoption expenses in 2023, applicable for one time on each child. The eligibility requirements were to have adopted a child other than a stepchild and to be within income limits, meaning that higher-income taxpayers would get less credit and lower-income would receive the most, allowing for significant savings. If you’d like to know more about government assistance, you can visit the North American Council on Adoptable Children.

State Adoption Subsidies  

how to pay for adoption

State subsidies are another effective way to reduce adoption costs. Many states offer assistance programs for adoption that provide grants and subsidies to help cover the expenses. These programs are administered at the state level and usually vary in terms of eligibility requirements, application process, and subsidy amounts. The adoption family’s income is usually not a factor. 

Although most states provide adoption subsidies for children adopted out of foster care, there are reimbursement programs for qualifying families with children adopted through private domestic adoption or intercountry. Take the chance and research on your government’s office or webpage all the state programs to benefit adopting parents. 

Employer Benefits

Many employers offer adoption assistance programs to help employees cover costs associated with the adoption process. These programs can include financial reimbursement for qualified adoption expenses, paid adoption leave, and access to adoption agencies, among other helpful resources. According to the 2023 Best Adoption Workplace Survey from the Dave Thomas Foundation, the average reimbursement for adoption was $14,831, whereas the average paid leave was 9 weeks. Some of the best companies that offered paid leave over adoption gave up to 26 weeks!

The amount of financial reimbursement differs from company to company, with some providing up to $10,000 or more to help cover the costs of adoption. Typically, there is a lifetime maximum reimbursement allowed per employee. If you’re interested in benefitting from your employer’s adoption assistance program, be sure to consider the following things: specific expenses that are covered, the type of adoption that can be benefitted, the amount of reimbursement, the process and timing to receive it, provision of adoption leave, employee eligibility requirements, and if there is any partnering between the company and adoption agencies. Thoroughly research your employer’s adoption assistance program and make the most of the financial help offered for your adoption. 

Adoption Loans

how to pay for adoption

Adoption loans allow you to borrow money specifically designated for adoption expenses, which is why many prospective parents take this route as a way to pay the adoption costs. Taking out this type of loan allows you to move forward with the process without draining your current savings. There are several types of low-interest adoption loans available from banks, credit unions, and even some adoption organizations. Abba Fund is one of the organizations that actually takes it a step further by offering interest-free loans. You can also opt for a personal loan if you’re seeking a fast way to get a set amount at a competitive interest rate, which you can then use to cover adoption costs over time.

When it comes to adoption loans, you should carefully research and evaluate each option by comparing what they offer before settling for a specific loan. Interest rates, repayment terms, and customized payment options are among the main factors to take into consideration when selecting a loan. Keep in mind that even though it can be of great help for immediate relief, they are still loans that must be repaid with interest, so weigh in the short and long-term pros and cons of this option. 

Fundraising and Community Support

Raising a child takes a village. That can be especially true for parents trying to adopt a kid. Fundraising is one of the many options to gather financial support from your community to help pay for the adoption expenses. Online fundraisers are now easier than ever, thanks to the rise of crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe, AdoptTogether, and YouCaring. 

If you would rather have face-to-face interactions, you can host a local fundraiser in your community or a benefit night with fun things like silent auctions, raffles, and bake sales. Just be sure to get any necessary permits and follow local regulations. And be aware of the potential drawbacks of fundraising, like how not everybody will be able or willing to donate and how asking for money constantly can sever relationships. 

Adoption Grants

how to pay for adoption

There are organizations that can provide adoption grants to prospective parents to cover adoption costs. Some examples are:

  • The Gift of Adoption Fund
  • A Child Waits Foundation
  • JSC Foundation
  • Help Us Adopt
  • Lifesong For Orphans
  • The Never Alone Foundation

Grant eligibility and amounts vary between each organization. You might be faced with faith, income, and home study requirements, as well as application deadlines and costs. Researching for eligibility criteria and deadlines is important, as funding is often times limited. Local church congregations, companies, and community organizations may offer smaller adoption grants too. You should try exploring your local options to see if they can be of any help. 

Sliding Fee Scale Agencies

Did you know some adoption agencies charge you based on your income level and ability to pay? It’s true! These are known as “sliding fee scale agencies” and are a great way to reduce adoption costs and give people the opportunity to bring a child home. The agencies are certified and licensed just as any other, allowing you to receive quality guidance throughout the process and ongoing support. When working with these types of agencies, remember it’s important to fully understand their fee structure and to have all the costs of the adoption in writing upfront to prevent any issues as you move forward. 

Personal Savings and Budgeting Strategies

how to pay for adoption

One of the most effective ways to financially prepare for adoption is by saving money. Having a savings amount specifically for that process will allow you to have a buffer when facing the costs. Consider opening a high-yield savings account as an adoption fund, taking money from your regular account to the fund on a monthly basis. These savings should be treated as a requirement for each month, just like any other bill. A few money-saving techniques you can employ are packing lunch instead of eating out, canceling or downgrading entertainment subscriptions, and evaluating needs versus wants. A financial advisor can also be an excellent aid in analyzing your current budget and finding ways to maximize your savings. 

Utilizing Home Equity and Assets

If the cost of adoption is too high, you might want to consider leveraging the equity in your home or liquidating assets to help pay for the expenses. This option isn’t the most ideal one, but it can provide you with the large sum of money you need to cover all or parts of the cost of adopting a child. Home equity loans allow you to borrow against the equity in your home at competitive interest rates. But it’s crucial to consider closing costs, repayment terms, and how it may impact your mortgage, taxes, and long-term financial plans. 

Similarly, choosing to liquidate stocks, bonds, or even 401k funds early can free up some cash for adoption. However, cashing out on these investments too early can mean losing out on future potential earnings. This is why it’s important to discuss your options with a financial advisor before taking any decision that might negatively impact your financial security down the road. Go through all the other alternatives first, like grants and fundraisers, prior to liquidating your assets.


how to pay for adoption

The journey of adoption is beautiful, but it involves serious financial planning and strategic decision-making. When it comes to financing adoption, there are numerous alternatives to explore and choose from. You can seek government assistance, state subsidies, employer adoption programs, sliding fee scale agencies, fundraisers, personal savings, loans, grants, and even home equity or asset liquidation. Each of these options has its share of pros and cons and should be evaluated with careful consideration, but ultimately, they provide prospective adoptive parents with the opportunity to reduce the overall cost of adoption, making their dreams of adoption not just a possibility but also a reality. 

About This Author

Melissa Rodriguez
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Melissa Rodriguez holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Texas State University and has over 20 years of experience in childcare services and administration. She is a Licensed Child Placing Agency Administrator, responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations and ensuring agency compliance with policies, procedures, and contract requirements, in conjunction with the Executive Director and Executive Administrator.