Is adoption free? The short answer is … maybe. Depending on your position in the adoption triad (expectant parent or hopeful adoptive parent) you may be spending a lot of money on adoption-related services, being reimbursed, or paying nothing at all. As a caution, it is important to remember that adoptive parents are never “buying” a child, or “paying” an expectant parent to give them their baby. Any agency or group that approaches adoption in those terms should be avoided at all costs.

  • Expectant parents who are considering placing their child in an adopted home should contact their adoption agency and find out if they are eligible for having their pregnancy-related expenses paid for via fees the agency passes along to the family that ends up parenting the child. Under no circumstances should expectant parents receive money for placing a baby — only qualified expenses related to prenatal care (things like medical expenses, food, rent and, in some states, maternity clothes, and aftercare expenses) can be paid for. Babies are not for sale under any circumstances. Expectant parents should also be wary of agencies who promise lots of money for “living expenses” or who threaten that those who choose not to place will have to pay back large sums of money. No matter how much the expectant parent has received for expenses, they are under absolutely no obligation to sign over their parental rights at placement.
  • Hopeful adoptive parents are in charge of paying all of the fees associated with private adoptions: home study fees, agency fees, possible expectant parent expenses, attorney fees, and court fees at finalization. Many corporations offer grants and matching dollars for adoptions, so hopeful adoptive parents can oftentimes offset the cost with help. Adopting from a foster care agency is often a low-or no-cost way to start an adoptive family, and the social worker you connect with can tell you exactly what costs you will be responsible to pay.

Written by Jennifer Galan.