Adoption Fees: The nitty gritty (because you asked for it!)

So, since starting the adoption process, we’ve gotten this question a lot, “Why does it cost so much?!”

And, well, I wanted to address this question. A lot of people don’t like talking money. And it is a bit humbling, but we see real value in being transparent.

According to AbbaFund, “33% of Americans consider adoption. 79% of those are concerned about the costs, the biggest deterrent. Less than 2% adopt.”

Josh and I really feel that money should never ever be a reason not to adopt.  In fact, it really should never be a reason not to move forward in faith for anything. In the Bible, God never uses lack of money as a means to stop something from happening. He also never uses debt to solve a problem.  However, when He wants something to happen, He provides. He sometimes provides in crazy ways, and He often provides through His people.  As some of you have walked with us through the years, you know by now that we love involving and giving others an opportunity to serve Him with us (whether that be through prayers, gifts, etc).  We see it as Partnership. This is no different. Adoption is a means to care for orphans. James plainly says, “Care for orphans and widows.”  Thus, all of us are called to care for orphans, somehow, some way.  Perhaps this is the closest many of you will get. And here’s a real life, personal chance. So, at the very least, pray.  (Actually, that’s really important!) There’s a little child waiting for a loving home. You can’t put a price on that.  But there are some logistics.


So, getting to that…

I broke everything down.

Feel free to skim if you want, but I’m writing it all down, just to have, and maybe for those super detailed people out there.  Plus, I’m guessing there could be those of you that are interested in adopting yourselves.


The Cost Breakdown

Something that was helpful to me was thinking about the average cost of having a baby biologically. This can be $14,000-30,000 or more, depending.  It just tends to get covered in large part by insurance.  With adoption, there’s no insurance, parents, or gov’t to cover medical costs, food, clothing, etc. (This tends to be true in many cases, whether int’l or domestic, except for foster to adopt). No one ever asks how much it costs to birth your baby, but everyone gets tangled up about adoption costs. Just food for thought. Having a child can be expensive, no matter what route you go.

Okay, so here’s the fun part.  This is specific to our adoption from South Korea.  Other adoptions may vary, but ours seems about average.  Everything broken down, including what it’s for:

Adoption Fees Breakdown (Total: $43,865):

Home Study, $3000

This varies state by state, but everyone must do a home study. International home studies cost more because they have to comply with regulations from both the US and the other country (in our case South Korea).

Generally, this is the process that qualifies us for adoption*. It is the service of getting all the paperwork and pieces together. It includes processing background checks, various paperwork, and interviews. In the end our agency compiles an extensive written report qualifying us for adoption.


USCIS-1600A + FingerPrints, $890 (paid to FBI)

Immigration requires that all prospective adoptive parents send in fingerprints for an FBI background check. This is to make sure that we can provide a “proper home environment”.  More info


Program Fee, $7000 (paid to agency)

This cost is for our agency, Lifelink. It helps to cover their cost as a direct program agency.  It helps with overhead, direct communication with the foreign placing source, assisting with documentation, parent training, foreign mailings, etc.


Lifelink does all the leg work between us and the agency in South Korea. We are sooo grateful for them, and we know that they are just barely covering their costs.  We had a “free” training in Chicago, put on by them fairly recently, and our agent is available 24/7 for us. They’re amazing, and we are so appreciative for all they do.


Foreign Fee, $22,500 (paid to foreign agency)

$19,500 goes to Eastern (the South Korean Agency) to cover medical care, foster care, legal process, etc. Actually this doesn’t come near covering the cost of their services.


Put plainly, this fee helps care for our child. It covers his medical, foster care (including food, diapers, etc.), all legal services, and towards helping the agency in South Korea care for the orphans that come in. This fee is much easier to swallow because I know that it’s helping cover expenses for my child for about a year while I wait.  (more on the wait in another post)

DCF (WI) $75, Foreign Adoption Bond (WI) $1000 (paid to Wisconsin)

This is required by the State of Wisconsin for State Licensing. Because guardianship will be given over to us in another country, this is basically a payment to ensure that we have guardianship in Wisconsin. More info


Post Placement (Korea Court) $2000 (paid to Korean gov’t)

South Korea requires reports from our agency for a few months after the child has been placed.  This is just follow-up to ensure that the child is well-taken care of and all is well. This covers the interviews, write-ups, paperwork, and submission to the Korean court.


Other Costs:

Medical (family physicals and exams): $1000

2 trips to S. Korea, food, lodging: ~$7400


Okay, that’s about it for now.  Yes, it does seem expensive, but not impossibleWe are planning on saving half and raising half, and we’ve been able to break down these costs into manageable goals and fundraisers, and we are actually excited about involving others in the process and watching the Lord provide.


Our goal is to have enough saved and raised by SEPTEMBER to move forward with our adoption, that means saving and raising $36, 465 in six months (four more to go!)  



What’s goin on:

Check out our Current Fundraiser:

Puzzle! (Goal: $10,000)


Sneak Peak:

June: Small Markets Month

July: Online Art Auction

Current Goal: Save $18,000 by Sept.  Raise $18,000 by Sept.



*Disclaimer: This is my take on the costs as they currently are. These aren’t official and they may change over time.

*definition of homestudy:

*We do also plan to apply for some grants, but we can’t do this until after our homestudy and initial $36,000 is in.

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