10 Ways to Save for an Adoption


When my husband and I first talked about adopting in 2014, the financial obligation made us stop in our tracks. 

We literally shelved the idea for another 4 years before reconvening and saying yes. With the average international adoption costing between 35,000 and 50,000 dollars and domestic adoptions in a similar price range, how does an average person successfully overcome the financial obstacle and adopt?

Every adoptive family before us said the same thing – don’t let finances be the obstacle that prevents you from adopting. Where there is a will, there’s a way. According to UNICEF, there are roughly 153 million orphans worldwide (source). Children need families so let’s break down some ways we employed and you can too to prepare financially to adopt.

Why Does Adoption Cost So Much?

First, let’s chat about why adoption is so expensive. There are a lot of factors and entities involved in making adoption both ethical and legal which is very important. As a result, there are adoption agency fees, government paperwork fees (visas, immigration paperwork, etc.), often an orphanage donation, and of course travel expenses. A reputable adoption agency should provide you the upfront costs of an average adoption before you get started.  

10 Ways To Save for an Adoption

1. Create a Budget

This was one of the first steps we took in order to save for our adoption. When you know where every dollar goes and you have a goal to save, you are motivated to be intentional about your spending. 

2. Cut Discretionary Spending

When you set up a budget, look at past spending. Where can you cut? One of the ways we cut spending is to limit how much money we spent on home projects, clothing, travel, and food. A few dollars here and there doesn’t sound like a lot but if you bought a $5 coffee every day for a month, that’s $1,800 a year you could be putting toward your adoption.

3. Re-Negotiate Bills

When was the last time you called to see if you could lower or your cable or cell phone bill? Does refinancing your home make sense? Look at every bill and make a phone call. Those dollars can add up in a hurry.

4. Meal Plan

If the idea of not eating out stresses you out with your schedule, consider meal planning weekly. Grab a meal planning journal like this one and spend 20 minutes planning out your meals for your family. On average families who eat at home save $16 per meal (source).  If you do the math that’s $112 for 7 dinners a week with an average yearly savings of $5,824.  

5. Check into Company Matching Programs

Many larger corporations have adoption assistance programs where they provide a set amount of assistance. It is worth asking your company, you never know.  

6. Find Grants

Due to the extreme cost, there are many adoption grant programs available. Many are based on your personal finances much like how you qualified for student aid in college. For more information on how grants work and if you qualify, check out this article.

7. Seek Private Donations

You might not be used to asking for money or help from others (I wasn’t either), people are willing to help. People can even give a tax-deductible donation through an adoption program like Adopt Together.

8. Do Fundraisers

A quick google search will get your creative juices flowing for possible fundraising ideas. From t-shirts to silent auctions. We had a very successful garage sale where we asked for donations from our community. Those who couldn’t give financially were glad to share some unneeded items and we accepted cash donations at the event as well. One garage sale raised just over $3,000 between donations and sales.

The adoption process can take some time so you could do more than one fundraiser to save for an adoption throughout the process.

9. Get Loans

There are financial institutions willing to lend families money for adoption costs. While I would encourage you to exhaust your other options first before pursuing this option, it is available.

10. Ask Other Adoptive Families

When you decide to adopt, ask your agency about financial assistance programs. Join adoption facebook groups and ask other community members. The adoption community is very supportive and creative. You will learn a lot and be encouraged along the way.

Is Adopting Out of Foster Care a More Cost-Effective Option?

While it is possible to adopt out of foster care and is much less expensive with an average cost of $1,730, the goal of foster care is reunification with birth families. There is a tremendous need for families to serve the 400,000 kids in the foster care program (source). You can learn more about foster care in Iowa here and determine if that’s the right option for your family.

Remember This…

Not all money is needed at once. As you start the process, a good agency should share upfront the costs associated with adoption and when they are due. With international adoption, the bulk of the money (say half) often comes at the end when you travel so there’s time to save up.   

If you have a desire to adopt, don’t let the financial burden stop you. Where there is a will there’s a way and there’s a child waiting for you to bravely step forward. I am so glad we said yes!

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