Financing Your Adoption

Building your family through adoption can be quite expensive. The average private, domestic adoption includes attorney’s fees, social worker fees for home studies, advertising expenses, birth parent counseling fees and maternity expenses. Often there are additional travel costs as well. A domestic adoption ranges in cost from $20,000 - $50,000. International adoption is even more costly. A little research can pay off and substantially reduce your out of pocket costs.  

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Employer Benefits: The first place to look for financial assistance for your adoption plan is your workplace. It is inexpensive and easy for a company to offer adoption benefits as not many employees will take advantage of this option and having it on the books helps a company seem family friendly. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption maintains an annual list of the top 100 adoption friendly workplaces offering adoption benefits. If you do not see your company on this list, check with the human resources or benefits department where you work and ask if they offer any assistance. If it is a small, non-public company you may have a good chance of being the groundbreaker to prod your employer into instituting such a policy.

Fundraisers: The internet is full of wonderful ideas for fundraising to help afford the cost of adoption. Suggestions range from garage sales to T-shirt fundraising to setting up an adoption crowdfunding page where people can contribute tax deductible donations. Like employer benefits, fundraisers put needed dollars directly in your pocket to get you started or further down the path of adoption.

Grants: Today there are hundreds of available adoption grants with different eligibility requirements. Generally, there are no limits to the number of grants you may seek. Several small grants can add up to substantial fundraising.

Direct adoption grants are given by organizations, which review your application and award the money directly to you. This type of grant requires a little more work on your part and they are definitely more competitive, but the reward can be quick and substantial. See, for example,, a national not for profit association awarding adoption grants twice a year regardless of race, ethnicity, marital status, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. 

Some organizations pay the grant to your adoption service provider, such as your attorney or agency, rather than directly to you. An example of this type of grant comes from The Buescher Foundation, established in 2014 to provide support and resources to adoptive families. This foundation awards grants in varying amounts for domestic private and/or agency adoption. There is no income requirement and there are no marital status or religious affiliation restrictions. The Foundation requires a home study and a “look book” or profile book that tells the story of your family. Their grants are awarded at the end of each quarter and funds may be used for all qualified adoption expenses and will be sent directly to your service providers.

You will find that some adoption grants are predicated on certain qualifications, such as demonstrable financial need, a particular religious affiliation, marital status, or that the adoptive child be special needs or orphaned. All grants require you go through an application process. Please carefully read the following time saving tips before you begin the process of applying for an adoption grant. 

Four Important Guidelines When Applying For An Adoption Grant:

1.  Read the grant criteria and eligibility requirements – do not waste your time with  applications for which you have no chance of being approved. If you are single and the organization only awards grants to married couples, do not expect to be the exception to the rule!

2.  Make sure your home study is complete. Most grants require an approved home study. Most grants have deadlines. Be sure not to start the process with an extensive application only to be disqualified when you do not have a home study to submit prior to the grant application deadline.

3.  Share your story and be AUTHENTIC. Your honesty will resonate with the folks reading your application and help them relate to you and your journey.

4.  Answer every question and send in all the required documentation. In other words, check and double check that you have followed the instructions. If you miss a question or fail to send in all the documentation, your application will be thrown out, no matter how long you spent on the questions you did answer.  

Other ideas to try:  

    o    Some airlines and hotels offer adoption discounts for adoption related travel. 
    o    Try your local banks for low interest loans once you are home study approved and court certified to adopt. 
    o    Discuss the Federal Adoption Tax Credit with your accountant or a tax professional. You may be entitled to a tax credit of more than $13,000 for qualified adoption expenses, including attorney’s fees and travel costs. 
    o    Military adoption reimbursements are available for service members up to $2,000 per adoptive child, per calendar year.