Financial Resources for Adoptive Families

The total cost of adoption depends on several factors, such as the type of adoption (foster care, international or through a private agency), the agency through which you adopt, the state in which you live, attorney fees and whether travel is required.

Following are frequently asked questions and financial resources* available to support families on the adoption journey.

Frequently asked questions

What is the average cost of adoption?
Foster care adoption typically costs $0 to $5,000 in nominal fees and home studies. International adoption or adoption through a private agency, on the other hand, might cost $30,000 to $60,000 or more. Always request a detailed written explanation of the fees involved before beginning the adoption process.

What expenses are associated with adoption?
The needs of every child are unique. But all families navigating the adoption process should anticipate some out-of-pocket costs. A home study is required for all types of adoption and may run upwards of a few thousand dollars. Those fees are reimbursable in some cases. Families may also hire an attorney to help ensure that all aspects of the adoption are handled correctly.

You should also consider the costs of raising a child post-adoption, including daycare, medical and mental health needs, education and more.

What financial support is available for families looking to adopt?
Families planning to adopt have many options for financial assistance. One common source of support comes from federal and state tax credits. Many organizations also provide benefits to employees who foster and adopt.

In addition, subsidies follow most children in foster care until they are 18 or 21 years old, and assistance for college expenses is accessible in many states.


financial resources

Federal Adoption Assistance

Federal Adoption Tax Benefits — A nonrefundable tax credit for expenses paid to adopt an eligible child — including adoption fees, court costs and travel expenses — as well as an exclusion from income for employer-provided adoption assistance.

Medicaid — A health insurance program administered by states and overseen by the federal government that provides free or low-cost medical benefits to eligible recipients. Children eligible for Title IV-E assistance are also automatically eligible for Medicaid. Children who are eligible for non-IV-E assistance may still receive Medicaid benefits, but they are not automatically eligible.

Families Rising (formerly North American Council on Adoptable Children) — Through its Adoption Subsidy Resource Center, Families Rising provides information on federal programs to educate parents about the benefits available to children adopted from foster care in the United States. Families Rising also provides information on provincial programs in Canada to support adoptive families

Supplemental Security Income Benefits (SSI) — A federally funded assistance program for children who meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability and whose families have limited household income and resources.

Title IV-E – Federal Adoption Assistance — Provides federally funded financial support to adoptive parents of children with special needs, as defined by the program’s three “Special Needs Determination” criteria. Children qualify for the program by meeting one of six eligibility criteria.

For more information about adoption subsidies and assistance, visit the National Council For Adoption’s guide.

State Adoption Assistance

Adoption Subsidy/Monthly Maintenance Payments — Financial assistance disbursed by the state or local agency administering a child’s adoption from foster care to help defray the costs of necessary services related to caring for that child. The subsidy amount is agreed upon by the adoptive family and the adoption agency through a negotiation process that takes place prior to the placement finalization.

Child Tax Credit —Fourteen states have enacted a child tax credit in addition to the federal credit. Eleven of the 14 states (CaliforniaColoradoMaineMarylandMassachusettsMinnesotaNew JerseyNew MexicoNew York, Oregon and Vermont) have made the child tax credit refundable.

Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP) — Under the Title IV-E option, guardianship assistance programs (GAP) are designed for children and youth: who have been in foster care with a licensed relative providing the care for at least six months for whom reunification with their parents and adoption are not appropriate permanency options.

Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance Program (ICAMA) — A coalition of member states that coordinates adoption-assistance benefits and services for children with special needs who are placed with an adoptive family in another state. ICAMA currently has 49 member states, in addition to the District of Columbia.

Non-recurring adoption expenses — One-time payments (up to $2,000, depending on the state) to reimburse expenses that are directly related to the adoption of a child with special needs.

Ohio Adoption Grant Program — Ohioans who adopt can apply for a $10,000 one-time payment. Those who adopt a child they have been fostering can apply for a $15,000 one-time payment. If the child has one or more special needs (as defined in the law) prior to the adoption finalization, the parent can apply for a one-time payment of $20,000.

State (Non-IV-E) Adoption Assistance — Local adoption support provided by state and/or county funding that is an option for children who are not eligible for federal Title IV-E funds. A child cannot qualify for both Title IV-E and Non-IV-E assistance. View a list of assistance programs by state

For more information about adoption subsidies and assistance, visit the National Council For Adoption’s guide.

Employer Benefits

Many organizations offer benefits to employees who foster and adopt, such as financial reimbursement, paid leave or other time off. Contact your employer’s human resources department to learn more. Other benefits available for employees who adopt include:

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) — Provides employees with the right to an unpaid leave of absence, for up to 12 weeks within a 12-month period, for family and medical responsibilities. That includes leave for adoption.

Financial Reimbursement for Military Families — Active-duty military families may be reimbursed up to $2,000 per child, per calendar year. Benefits are paid after the adoption is finalized.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption also provides an Adoption-Friendly Workplace toolkit to help employers develop their policies.

Private Grants and Subsidies

While the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption does not offer grants to individuals or families seeking to adopt, the following organizations accept applications for partial financial assistance for adoptions that meet specific requirements.

A Child Waits Foundation — Open to citizens of the U.S. and Canada adopting domestically, including through foster care, this grant offers up to $10,000 to cover final adoption costs.

Associates Home Loan — A $1,000 grant awarded twice per year to assist families with the cost of adoption.

The Gift of Adoption Fund — Grants of up to $15,000 are awarded to qualified applicants for both domestic and international adoptions. The average grant is $4,000.

Help Us Adopt — Grants of up to $20,000 are awarded four times a year to families with significant financial barriers to adoption.

National Adoption Foundation — Grants range from $500 to $2,000, depending on the needs of the family and circumstances surrounding the adoption.

Show Hope — The Adoption Aid grant, which ranges from $6,000 to $10,000, is designed to reduce financial barriers associated with adoption. The organization also provides $6,000 Medical Care grants to assist families with medical expenses for adopted children.

Worth the Wait Charity — This organization provides financial assistance for young adult cancer survivors who want to preserve fertility (i.e., egg/embryo or sperm freezing) prior to treatment or who need to start a family through fertility treatment (i.e., IUI, IVF), surrogacy or adoption and do not have insurance coverage that covers the full cost. They are based in Columbus, Ohio, but offer assistance to individuals in other states as well.

Educational Assistance for Youth

In 2001, the U.S. Congress created the federally funded CHAFEE Education and Training Voucher program, which offers financial and academic support to eligible students enrolled in accredited colleges, universities and vocational training programs. In many cases, youth in foster care who are adopted on or after their 16th birthday are eligible for CHAFEE funds. Additionally, many states have programs that offer grants, scholarships or tuition waivers for students who have been adopted from foster care. The University of Washington has a state-by-state guide to postsecondary financial supports for youth who are or have been in foster care.


Other Financial Considerations

  • Veterans benefits only apply to biological and adoptive children
  • Employer-sponsored private insurance may require adoption for a child to qualify
  • Inheritance — automatic right to inherit only applies to adoptive and biological children — all families need to create wills


*These resources are referenced because they offer useful information; the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption does not explicitly endorse them. Always verify information for accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance, and obtain appropriate legal and professional advice.

Adoption Guide

Whether you are an adoption professional, a prospective adoptive parent or someone simply interested in learning more about the process, Finding Forever Families: A Step-by-Step Guide to Adoption offers valuable information and resources to help you make a difference in the life of a child.

Learn More

Adoption Benefits

The Foundation provides a free Adoption-Friendly Workplace toolkit for employers that includes a fact sheet, sample benefits policy and other resources.

Learn more

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