Adoption in Oregon: How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child?

Happy couple with daughter

There are many factors that will go into a family’s decision to adopt a child. One important consideration will be a financial one: how much will it cost to adopt? There are several different methods of adoption available in Oregon, each of which involves different costs and expenses. Whether you choose an agency adoption, an independent adoption, a foreign adoption, or a foster care adoption, it is essential that you understand the costs involved, so that you can make an informed decision about the best method of adoption for your family. We can help.

Methods of Adoption in Oregon

If you are considering adoption in Oregon, there are four different methods available. You can adopt through a licensed adoption agency. Adoptions are also possible directly from the birth parent as an independent adoption. You can adopt a child through the State of Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS). Adoptions are possible from certain foreign countries.

Stay tuned for future posts about the potential benefits and advantages of each type of adoption. We will focus our discussion here on cost only.

Agency Adoption

Adoption agencies are licensed by the DHS. They must meet high professional and ethical standards and It is illegal to operate an adoption agency without a license. With this option, the agency completes the entire adoption process from beginning to end, including helping the family find the right adoption opportunity with a pregnant mother through advertising and networking. The agency will also provide the following services:

  • Initial information
  • Ongoing counseling
  • Assistance in the matching process
  • Oversight of expenses and distribution of funds
  • Help with paperwork and coordination of social services necessary for the placement
  • Adoption finalization

The total cost for adopting a child through an agency can be as much as $40,000. This cost includes agency fees; legal fees; birth mother expenses; and advertising/networking to find mothers who would like to adopt out their child. Another cost is the home study, which is required for all adoptions when at least one of the birth parents will not retain their legal parental rights. The cost will depend on the agency you’re working with, as well as the social worker responsible for preparing the study.

In selecting an adoption agency, be sure to ask for a detailed list of fees, refunds, and non-refundable expenses.

Independent Adoption

Independent adoption takes many forms in Oregon. One involves the adoptive family independently finding a pregnant mother through advertising or networking and using the services of an attorney or an adoption agency to complete the adoption. Importantly, paid adoption “facilitators” are illegal in Oregon. Costs for this sort of independent adoption can be as much as $34,000, including agency fees; legal fees; birth mother expenses; and advertising/networking. Similarly to an agency adoption, this sort of independent adoption also includes a home study expense.

Keep in mind that although Oregon law prohibits individuals from advertising that a child is available or wanted for adoption, the law does not not apply to licensed adoption agencies that have a contract authorizing it to advertise.

Another, more common form of independent adoption in Oregon involves a family member or friend adopting a child when the parents are unable to care for the child for some reason. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and close family friends frequently adopt children in this way. Because this sort of adoption infrequently involves the costs associated with locating a willing mother and caring for her during her pregnancy (unlike Agency and other types of independent adoption), this type of independent adoption can cost much less. The average cost to adopt a single child when both parents agree to the adoption is $5,000, which includes filing fees, legal fees, and incidental expenses. A home study will also be required and will be an additional expense.

Another common form of adoption is Step-Parent Adoption. This form of adoption covers all adoptions where one parent remains on the birth certificate and another person (sometimes a step-parent, sometimes someone else) is added to, or replaces the other parent on the child’s birth certificate. The average cost for Step-Parent Adoption is $5,000, as long as there is one child and the other parent agrees to the adoption. This cost includes filing fees, legal fees, and incidental expenses. This type of adoption rarely involves a home study, but if a home study is required, that will be an additional expense as well.

Foreign Adoption

International adoption, also referred to as inter-country adoption, involves the adoption of a child from another country. Almost all international adoptions are handled through adoption agencies.

While international adoption has similarities to private adoption, it also has its own unique steps and costs, including travel expenses, authentication of dossier (country-specific collection of documents designed to illustrate what the prospective adoptive family is like), and more. The cost of the home study may be very high as you or your social worker may be required to travel.

By country, the average total cost of international adoption is approximately:

  • China: $36,000
  • Ethiopia: $46,000
  • South Korea: $44,000
  • Ukraine: $40,000

DHS Adoption

The least expensive method of adoption in Oregon will be through the DHS. There are no fees for adopting a child from Oregon foster care when you choose the DHS as your agency. If you use a private agency to adopt a child from Oregon foster care, some of those agency fees may be reimbursable, including the cost of the home study.

A Word About Legal Fees

Adoptive parents need to have legal counsel to finalize the adoption. If birth parents will be part of the finalization process, they will be entitled to separate legal counsel. Typically, the adoptive parents pay for all legal costs.

International adoptions have specific legal costs, including court filings, immigration applications (one prior to adopting and one when the child is ready to immigrate to the United States), and embassy medical, visa and passport fees. If the adoption is not finalized overseas, the adopting family will need to hire an attorney to finalize the adoption once back in the U.S.

In any adoption case, complications and special circumstances can arise that will increase the cost of the adoption. Adopting multiple children, uncooperative parents, ICWA, and interstate adoption issues can significantly increase the overall cost. It is important to have a thorough discussion with an attorney about possible issues prior to beginning the adoption process in order to get a more accurate estimate of the costs.

How We Can Help

If you need assistance with an adoption in Oregon we welcome you to contact us. Based in Salem, we serve clients throughout Oregon and our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of adoption.

Categories: Adoption
Sarah M. Litowich's Profile Image
Salem family law attorney Sarah M. Litowich is an Oregonian through and through, with roots in rural eastern Oregon and the Willamette Valley. She is grateful for these deep Oregon roots because she learned the value of hard work and building and mai… Read More

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