Building your family through adoption is an exciting prospect with great potential for lifelong happiness.  Becoming a parent to a child or children is sure to bring joy and fulfillment to your life.  As you may have noticed, however, adoption is expensive! According to American Adoptions, the average cost of adopting a child through an adoption agency is $39,966.  The cost of adopting independently isn’t much cheaper at $34,093. When choosing to adopt internationally, the cost can soar even higher. Almost half of these fees go towards the adoption agency and the application process.  Legal fees, birth mother expenses, and advertising/networking also play a role in this hefty price tag. Becoming a parent is priceless, and many hopeful parents don’t mind investing in their future and their family. However, the average American doesn’t have this kind of money just laying around.  For some, this is a full year’s salary! For others, it is still an extremely large out-of-pocket cost. Because of the fees associated with adopting, it can be helpful to build your savings before proceeding.

If you haven’t hit it big in the lottery lately, you may be unsure how you will raise such a large amount of money in a timely fashion.  While there aren’t any magic “get rich quick” schemes, there are plausible ways to build your savings in an effort to build your family. When considering money-making options, consider what will work best for you and your family.  By exploring these options and researching your own ideas, you should be able to work towards an attainable goal.  

Create a Budget

If you don’t already have a written budget, this can be a great way to decipher exactly how much money is coming into your household and exactly how much is going out.  Start by writing down the amount of income you can expect to receive in a given month. Follow that by a list of recurring bills: rent, utilities, gas, groceries, insurance, credit card or loan payments, etc.  Don’t leave anything out. By subtracting your bills from your income, you can get an idea of how much (if any) money is leftover after you have made ends meet.  

Every day, keep a log of what you spend and where you spend it.  This includes trips to the coffee shop or to restaurants, unexpected costs such as a vehicle or home repairs, and any donations you make to charitable causes.  Because the unexpected costs can be difficult to predict, a good rule of thumb is to add 10-15% onto your normal monthly costs. This will make sure that you are covered just in case.  Make sure to keep receipts for every purchase so that you can log them. Consult your bank statements if necessary. By going back and checking your financial records over the last 6 months or so, you should be able to obtain a monthly average of what you spend and where.

If you have money leftover in your monthly budget, consider paying off any debts you may have (beginning with the smallest first).  Once you have paid off a debt completely, you can take the amount that you would normally spend on that bill and put it towards your next smallest debt.  Continue to do this until your debts are paid off and you will have that monthly payment freed to put into your savings account. If you find that you have too much money left at the end of the month, in other words, if you don’t have any money leftover in your budget, check for holes and see where you can cut corners to work towards your savings goals.

Skip the Extras

You’d be surprised how much the little things can add up.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2015, the average American spent approximately $3.008 per year on dining out. The Simple Dollar states that Americans are eating outside of the home a whopping 18.2 times per month.  This equates to 4-5 meals per week! This number could be more or less depending on how often you choose to dine out. Instead of dropping $10 on fast food during your lunch break every day, bring lunch from home and put that $50 per week into your savings.  While going out to dinner with your significant other can be a nice and much-needed treat, it can get costly, too! Try to limit it to once a week. When you do go out, ordering water rather than a soda can save you about $3. While that doesn’t seem like much, when combined over time, it’s money in your pocket.  

Items such as cell phones and cable bills can add up incredibly quickly as well.  Check to see if there are more affordable options. With the average cable bill sitting at almost $200 per month, that’s $2,400 per year!  If you can live temporarily with a less expensive streaming service, you can save yourself some major money. Rushing out to buy the latest cell phone can cost you a pretty penny as well.  Instead, hold onto the older model a bit longer. Check around to see if your monthly payments could be lower elsewhere.

Make sure you aren’t wasting money on subscriptions or memberships that you aren’t actually using.  Do you have a recurring payment for something that you don’t utilize? Gym memberships, monthly subscription boxes, magazines, online memberships, etc., can add up quickly.  If you use and enjoy them, great! If you feel that you are really just wasting your money, however, you may want to cut some of them out.  

While it may not sound like it will save you much, cutting the amount of water and electricity you use can lower your monthly utility bills.  Purchasing store brands rather than the more expensive name brands will help to lessen your grocery bill. When it’s time to purchase clothing, consider browsing a thrift store rather than paying exorbitant prices for brand new, name-brand clothing.  You’d be surprised at the quality and the brands you can find in a thrift store for a much lower price.

Set Back a Certain Amount Each Pay Period

Many banks will allow you to set up a monthly transfer that will automatically deduct a set amount of money from your checking account and put it into your savings.  If you make up your mind not to touch your savings account (unless there’s an emergency, of course) you can watch your savings grow month by month. Decide on the amount that’s comfortable for you to set back each month and hold yourself accountable for making sure it goes into savings.

Fundraising and Side Hustles

Fundraising can not only be lucrative financially, it can also be a lot of fun!  We ALL have stuff sitting around our house that is just taking up space. If you’ve been putting off that yard sale, now is the time to set it up!  By advertising (for free) with signs around your neighborhood or on social media with online groups, you can ensure a good turn out. Consider selling large ticket items online.  Gather your friends and host a bake sale or a car wash. While you won’t get rich doing these things, you will certainly have fun and make a few dollars in the process. There are many companies who will work with you to achieve your fundraising goals.  Research fundraisers to make sure they are legitimate and to make sure the amount of money you will be making is worth your time and effort. 

Consider hosting an event!  Let your friends, family, and social media acquaintances know that you are building an adoption fund.  Perhaps you could rent an inexpensive space for an evening and charge admission for a black-tie cocktail party or a night of dancing with a theme.  You could also issue a challenge. If we make “x” amount of money towards our adoption fund, we will meet some type of challenge. This could be something as simple as an ice bucket type challenge or taking a pie to the face.  Perhaps your husband could shave his long-time beard or his head (if he is willing). It could be something as silly as wearing a bunny costume to dinner or kissing a pig (with video evidence, of course!). Your loved ones will likely donate just to get a laugh by watching you complete the challenge.  When you host fundraisers or events, make sure to share the reason you are raising money. Many people are generous when donating to a cause they can stand behind.

Most people can make extra cash with a side hustle.  It may take a bit of your free time, but it can definitely be worth your effort! Think about what your strengths are…are you crafty?  Perhaps you can make and sell crafts at a local vendor fair. Are you mechanically inclined? Find a few side jobs changing oil or replacing brake pads.  If you are considering adoption, you probably already love kids. Consider babysitting in your free time. Not only does this bring in extra money, it’s good experience!  If you are an animal lover, you are in luck! Dog walking and pet sitting are always in high demand. If you are willing to put time and effort into finding free or cheap items and reselling them for a profit, it might be worth your while to get a vendor booth in a local flea market or antique store.  You’d be surprised how much money you can make devoting a few hours per week to a side hustle. 

Employer Assistance

Did you know that some employers offer financial assistance to qualified employees looking to build their family through adoption?  While this isn’t the case with every company, corporations such as Netflix, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, and Barilla America offer reimbursement for adoption fees.  They also offer paid leave to their employees, similar to parental leave offered for biological parents. According to SHRM’s 2019 Employee Benefits Research Report, 10 percent of employers surveyed offer some type of adoption benefits package and 29 percent offered some type of paid adoption leave. Companies who offer these benefits are seen as family-friendly companies, therefore, their reputations are improved, and they are happy to offer what they can to the few employees who choose to access these funds.  Check with the HR department of your company to see what types of benefits may be available to you.

Adoption Grants and Loans

There are grants, loans, and tax credits available for those interested in adoption.  These can be incredibly helpful in dealing with the high costs that adoption incurs. offers information about several types of adoption assistance. Here you can learn more about the adoption tax credit as well as organizations that offer grants and loans to assist you.  

While some adoption loans are interest-free, others come with a 5-20% interest rate depending on the company and your credit factors.  If a loan seems like a good option for you, make sure you are working with a reputable company and do your homework to find out the exact terms of the loan before signing any paperwork.  

Unlike a loan, grants require no repayment and have no interest fees.  They are essentially free money for adopting couples and individuals. Grants are an incredibly appealing funding option, but they can be a bit more difficult to obtain. Adoption grants are typically awarded by nonprofit organizations.  Because most of these organizations are operating on a limited budget, they can’t feasibly approve every grant request they receive. Even the most deserving families who apply for grants are turned down often. Don’t let this get you down.  Keep trying and be patient. While you shouldn’t count on adoption grants to solely fund your adoption or use them as a last-minute effort to pay for an adoption in progress, they are worth applying for. When awarded, these grants have gone a long way in helping families to achieve their goals of adopting.  

Adopting through Foster Care

Did you know that adopting through foster care can save you thousands of dollars in fees?  In fact, Adoptive Families Magazine states that the average cost for adopting a child through the foster care system is only $2,744!  This number is much more attainable and realistic, even for those on a tight budget. While some parents are set on adopting a newborn baby through an adoption agency, there are many benefits to adopting a child through the foster care system.  You can make a difference in the life of a child who has been through some tough situations. Foster care adoption does come with its own set of challenges, but so does any type of parenting. For more information on foster care adoption, reach out to your state’s department of children and family services.  

Adoption costs and fees can be daunting.  They have a tendency to shock potential families into shying away from adoption in general.  However, with patience, planning, creative thinking, and a bit of discipline, adoption is an attainable and worthwhile goal.


Leslie Bolin is a happily married mama of 3 amazing kids. She is also the birth mother to an adult son. She is just beginning the reunion process, which makes her nervous and excited at the same time. Leslie enjoys educating others about adoption and has done her fair share of outreach, writing, and public speaking on the subject. She has an Associate of Arts degree in Social Work and plans to continue her education. Leslie enjoys spending time with her family, finding peace in the beauty of nature, and laughing as much as possible. She believes that smiling is contagious and that music is good for the soul. She is a firm believer that even the most difficult moments can be turned into something beautiful when we use our stories to help others.