“Ask AW”: Adoption & The Cost

This 2-part series on adoption financing is presented by Jennifer Van Ee.  Jennifer is the Director of Intake at America World. She has a background in children and trauma and a passion for orphan care. She loves being able to combine her faith and her passions in her daily work.

Adoption Cost


Two of the words families shudder at when talking about adoption. Financing can be one of the biggest hurdles for families interested in pursuing international adoption. At America World, we recognize that for so many of our families this journey really is a step of faith. God often calls families to the adoption process so that He can demonstrate His provision and power to provide not just in the life of the orphan but in the life of the family as well.   

As Director of Intake, I frequently receive questions about this topic so I thought it may be helpful to provide some general information on the subject.

Two ways families cope with the cost of international adopting are through planning and preparing for the costs and applying for grants and fundraising through their process.  In Part 1, I will cover the first way by explaining some of the costs and cost timelines. In Part 2, I will speak to ways families have financed their adoptions, such as through our Eternal Family Program or through grants. 

The Costs

Unfortunately, what seems like a simple question is actually very difficult to answer because it is so dependent on individual family circumstances and country program. The standard program and international fees are based on costs per program. These are standard and listed on our country pages on the website. The reason we have ranges listed on the cost pages is because of the effect of family circumstances and time lines can play in the total costs. Two examples of how individual cases differ from each other even in the same program are costs associated with building dossier/home study and costs associated with travel. 

  • Dossier Building/Home Study: Home study costs vary per state based on the state requirements. Based on where the family lives and have lived, everything from the number and cost of background checks to how often home study updates are required causes the cost for services to vary between families. For information on the cost in different sates, please visit our State Office page on the website.
  • Travel: While countries do require a certain number of trips, the cost of tickets and accommodation changes throughout the year. This cost also varies based on the number of family members traveling as well as other costs associated with international travel families may need such as special dietary foods, trip insurance, passports, and costs for additional travel days.


The Cost Timeline

Since timelines are based on the family and program, it is easier to talk about the 4 major steps, or 'mile markers', of your adoption process when you will be paying fees: 1) Getting Started, 2) Submitting the Dossier, 3) Accepting a Referral, and 4) Travel

1) Getting Started: When you have applied and been accepted into a program, you will need to pay the initial program fee before you are considered a America Work family and have a Family Coordinator assigned to you. This program fee ranges from $2,000 to $3,000 depending on the program. After paying this fee, you will be assigned a Family Coordinator and will be able to begin your home study and 'paper chase'.

2) Submitting your Dossier: When you home study has been finalized and you have all the documentation needed, your next fee to America World will be due before we will be able to submit your dossier to country. This generally includes the second portion of the America World program fee, an international program fee, and a translation fee, depending on your country program. 

3) Accepting a Referral: Once you are matched with a child and you have accepted your referral, you will pay the final America World program fee, an international program fee, and the post adoption administration fee. Many countries have two to three other fees such as the orphanage fees, mailing/service fees, or translation fees, but again the number and amounts depend on country. 

4) Travel: After you have accepted your referral and are getting ready to travel, you will either pay America World the fee to arrange your travel or you will be arranging it with our help, depending on your program. Besides airline fees, other fees at this stage include in-country package costs (hotel, guides, in-country transportation,) in-country appointments, and orphanage fees. Families will often also need to bring over formula/food and clothing for their child, or buy these items in-country.

Again, specific fees and amounts at each can vary between programs. For example, India families also pay a CARINGS registration fee once their home study is complete. This would likely be just before dossier submission and the current fee is $2,800. For more specific information, you will want to visit the cost section of the individual program pages.

I do want to emphasize that these are the mile markers of when you will be paying America World and not necessarily the only times you will be paying fees. For example, between steps 1 and 2, you will be paying fees associated with getting a home study completed, mandatory training, fingerprinting, background checks, etc. In general, we encourage families to have roughly $6,000-$8,000 to cover the first 3-6 months of start-up costs included in the application & dossier building stage. The process can take longer and add costs if finances are not available once you begin working on your home study and dossier documentation.

Have more questions? Feel free to note them in the comment section below or email them to intake@awaa.org.


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