How To Afford Adoption

Your income level should never determine whether or not you can adopt a child, but figuring out how to afford the expenses can be daunting.

The cost of foster care adoption generally only involves home study and adoption worker costs, and these fees can often be reimbursed thanks to federal adoption assistance. Title IV-E covers non-recurring adoption expenses in cases involving children that are more difficult to place. To see if you can qualify for financial assistance from your state visit

While adoption from foster care can be relatively inexpensive, other avenues of adoption can cost up to $40,000 or more. Costs that come with adopting from private agencies may include but are not limited to social work services, court and legal fees, birth parent counseling and medical expenses, and adoptive parent training.

International adoptions are the most costly option because they involve higher travel expenses, more fees, and sometimes more personnel are involved, such as an escort for the child if the adoptive parents are unable to travel themselves.

Fortunately, there is a plethora of grant programs and generous donors out there who can help. AFFEC has rounded up a list of such programs and crowdfunding platforms, which can be found here.  On the page, you will also find resources for interest-free loans, budgeting, and fundraising. Many of these programs require applications or only accept families who meet certain requirements.  However, applying for grants and/or loans is worthwhile because you will never know if you don’t try, and taking the time to fill out applications could pay off in a major way.  Here are a few grants to consider: is an outstanding nonprofit that hosts fundraisers and partners with celebrities affected by adoption (like Hoda Kotb and Jenna Ushkowitz) to raise money to provide grants to families in need. There are four grant cycles each year, and the next deadline is June 15.  There is no fee to apply and the eligibility requirements are not too stringent; the organization mainly asks that applicants be in the final stage of the adoption and have a verifiable need for financial assistance.

Parenthood for Me is an organization founded by two adoptive parents who chose adoption after spending over $20,000 on unsuccessful fertility treatments, so they personally understand the struggle of trying to cover the costs of starting a family. Their grant application requires a small processing fee, a personal statement, references, and tax returns.

Lifesong for Orphans is a Christian organization that offers grants and interest-free loans. The group also will match funds raised by church groups (up to $4,000). The main requirement for the grant application is that the adoptive parents must be practicing Christians devoted to their church.

Before applying, you should have already completed the home study part of the adoption process and be approved for adoption, as most grants require documentation of this with your application.

If you do not have much luck with grants or are not financially eligible for them but still need help covering adoption costs, you may want to consider fundraising. However, fundraising for personal reasons rather than on behalf of a registered nonprofit organization can bring up obstacles. Many traditional fundraising programs such as restaurant dine to donate nights and catalog fundraisers require proof of 501c3 status. But if fundraising seems like the best way for you to meet your financial needs, don’t be discouraged. With some creativity and community connections,  you can make it happen.

Here are some fundraising ideas for adoption:

-Reach out to local restaurants. While national chains have strict rules for their fundraising programs, local businesses may be more flexible. Ask the owner of your favorite local eatery if they would be willing to donate 10-20% of profits generated by a group of friends and family you bring in on a particular night. Then, pass out flyers to everyone you know and blast the event all over social media.

-Design T-shirts. Custom Ink allows both charities and individuals to raise money through selling apparel. While it may make sense to choose a design with your family name or something relevant to your specific adoption journey,  try thinking outside the box and create a design that reaches a broader audience and that people would be proud to wear regularly.

This way, your supporters won’t just be limited to friends and family who feel obligated to support you,  but could include strangers from all over who believe in the power of adoption and want to spread awareness with a T-shirt.

-Use your photography skills. Offer reasonably-priced family portraits to your friends, relatives, and co-workers. Everyone loves getting them done and it is a meaningful way to raise money because it ties in with adoption. For pricing guidelines, check out these estimates.  If photography isn’t your forte, partner with a local photographer who may donate proceeds to you in exchange for sending them referrals.

No matter what your financial situation, adoption can be possible. Just remember that it never hurts to ask for help. The worst answer you can get is no, but with persistence and a little creativity, you can raise what you need to be able to open your home and your heart to a child in need.