Tips and Advice

Personal Loans and Other Ways to Pay for Adoption

Adopting a child is a life altering experience that can bring joy to your life. Learn about personal loans and other ways to pay for adoption.
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Written by:
Shannon Lee
Edited by:
Kristin Marino verified

Choosing adoption to grow your family can be incredibly exciting, but it’s also quite nerve-wracking. In addition to all the wonderful emotions you might feel about bringing a child into your forever home, you might also have that nagging question in the back of your mind: How will I pay for this? There’s no doubt adoption can be expensive. Fortunately, there are many potential ways to pay for adoption that won’t leave you destitute.

You can use personal loans and other ways to pay for an adoption. Learn how this works, along with the different types of adoption and the costs associated with each.

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Types of Adoptions and Costs

When adopting a child, there are a few different routes you can take. Here are the most common ones and what you can expect in terms of cost:

  • Private agency adoption. Those seeking to place a child for adoption often turn to private agencies, where they can screen and select adoptive parents, or can be “matched” through the agency. Depending upon the complexity and circumstances, these adoptions can cost between $20,000 and $45,000.
  • Adopting through foster care. Many children in foster care are waiting for forever families. This entails going through the child welfare system in your state to be matched with children ready for adoption. There is very little cost associated with adoption through the foster care system.
  • Independent adoption. This adoption takes place outside of an agency or foster care. Sometimes known as a “direct” adoption, the agreement occurs between an expectant mother and an adoptive family with the assistance of an attorney. These adoptions typically cost between $15,000 and $40,000.
  • International adoption. Also known as intercountry adoption, this is exactly what it sounds like: Adopting a child from another country. In some cases, it might be impossible to know much about the child ahead of the adoption. Fees vary widely depending upon the country, but are typically between $20,000 and $50,000.

Common Adoption Fees and Costs

So how do those adoption costs break down? Here’s what you can expect to pay in a typical adoption. Keep in mind that these are ballpark figures, and your experience might vary.

  • Attorney and legal fees. Attorneys usually charge anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000 for their services, while court costs and other legal fees can reach up to $4,000.
  • Travel. If you are going with international adoption, you might be expected to travel to that child’s home country at least once, but often more than that. Travel fees vary widely but often reach into the thousands.
  • Home study. This is a requirement for all adoptions that take place in the United States. This review of your household can run from $500 to $3,000 or more.
  • Agency fees. If you choose to go through an agency, all of the above costs might be rolled into their final fee, which can be up to $45,000 on the higher end.

Personal Loans and Other Ways to Pay for Adoption

Obviously, adoption is not cheap. And it’s the rare family who simply has that much cash lying around to pay for it all out-of-pocket and up-front. So what to do to make adoption possible? Here are some good ways to help bring that lovely child (or children!) into your home.

Personal Loans

Getting a personal loan for adoption can ease the burden of saving so much cash upfront and instead, provide you with the peace of mind of regular monthly payments. Many personal loan companies offer loans of up to $50,000 with a low APR for those with good credit. These loans are unsecured, which means the APR might be higher than that of a home equity loan; however, you’re not using a home as collateral, which can add to your peace of mind.


This won’t be an option for most, as many families don’t have this kind of cash. Even if they do, they don’t want to risk emptying their bank accounts in one fell swoop. However, funds might be found in related places, such as by pulling money from investments. Check with your financial advisor before taking this step.

Employer Benefits

Many employers offer generous benefits to help fund adoption. According to the Dave Thomas Foundation’s report on the top adoption-friendly workplaces, the average amount offered by employers for adoption costs in 2020 was $10,961, and many of those companies also offered generous paid leave for adoptive parents. Speak to your HR department about what your company offers.

Home Equity Loans

Home equity loans are based on what your home is worth minus what you still owe on it – and if you’ve been living in the house for a while, you could have a good amount of equity built up to borrow against. This can help you reach that $50,000 threshold for more expensive adoptions. However, it does mean putting your home up as collateral, which is something you might not want to risk.


Getting Help with Adoption Costs

These organizations and grants can help you with some of the costs of adoption. Some offer adoption loans, while others are grants that don’t have to be paid back. Some require affiliation with a specific group or religion. Check each one carefully to learn how to apply for the funds.

  • ABBA Fund. This adoption assistance fund for Christian families offers interest-free loans of up to $8,000 that must be paid back over a 36-month period.
  • Gift of Adoption Fund. This organization provides monthly grants of up to $15,000 for domestic and international adoptions, with no restrictions based on age, race, religion, marital status, or sexual orientation.
  • A Child Waits Foundation. This organization provides grants for international and domestic adoption of up to $7,000, as well as other services to help pay the cost of adoption.
  • National Adoption Foundation. Obtain a low-interest loan and/or up to $2,000 in grants through this organization.
  • Help Us Adopt. This organization provides up to $15,000 in grants for hopeful adoptive families.

Adoption Resources

There’s a lot to learn about adoption. These resources can help.

  1. North American Council on Adoptable Children. Find information on adoption assistance and tax credits on this site.
  2. U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs. This site offers a wealth of information on intercountry adoption and procedures.
  3. Child Welfare Information Gateway. This comprehensive site provides information on state resources for adoption.
  4. IRS: Adoption Credit and Adoption Assistance Programs. This page from the Internal Revenue Service details what you need to know about tax credits and the financial implications of adoption.
  5. Human Rights Campaign Foundation: Participating Agencies. The agencies listed here are dedicated to helping LGBTQ parents on their journey to adopting a child.
  6. Adoption Assistance for Children Adopted from Foster Care. This helpful PDF explains the assistance you can expect when adopting a child through the foster care system in the United States.
  7. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Adopted Children. This guide helps parents understand the issues that children might face during and after adoption.
  8. A Family for Every Child. This page of post-adoption resources can be a valuable help to parents who are trying to help their adopted child navigate their new life with the family.
  9. National Council for Adoption. Learn about everything from what it takes to get started to how to help settle a child into their new home.
  10. Center for Adoption Support and Education. From podcasts to fact sheets to everything in between, this site offers a comprehensive dive into all things adoption.