Adoption is a beautiful thing. It’s the official legal process of assigning parental rights to adoptive parents, making the adopted child a legal part of the family. Nonetheless, adoption comes with its fair share of worries, and the cost is one of them. This leaves many Californians wondering, “How much does adoption cost in California? Can I afford it?”
Yes, adoption often includes significant expenses. These can include medical costs associated with the child’s birth, transportation costs, legal representation, counseling services, and more. Moreover, your unique circumstances can alter the prices and process of adoption in California. For instance, there are private, public, local (domestic), and international adoption and each of these adoption types has different costs.
For adults who have decided to take in a child for adoption, learning about the probable costs that may arise from this legal process is a good idea. So, how much does adoption cost in California? What are the expenses to look out for? Read on—this article addresses all the costs associated with adoption in California.
There are several paths that the adoptive parents can take for adoption depending on different factors and choices. Domestic adoption is a term used when all parties involved in the adoption process reside in the United States (as opposed to international adoption). Moreover, in domestic adoption, adoption falls into one of these three categories, listed here in order of cost (descending):
- Private adoption
- Independent adoption
- Adoption from foster care
Each of these options differs both in method and cost. Let’s briefly go over these three types.
Private domestic adoption is adopting a child via a private adoption agency. Private domestic adoption is a reliable way of adopting an infant/child in California.
In this program, the birth mother/biological parent decides the criteria needed for the adoption. Some of these criteria include the adoptive family and her prospective hospital experience.
Two branches of adoptive agencies offer private adoption—a local domestic agency and California’s state domestic adoption agency. Although the two share similar functions, local domestic agencies are limited to one geographic region.
What Is the Cost of Private Adoption in California?
On average, using a private licensed adoption agency is one of the pricier options. It costs between $20,000 to $50,000. That is a large sum, yes, but this cost covers many elements of agency adoption, including the attorney fee and licensing fees.
That being said, other costs are often attached to this adoption plan, such as investigation, medical examination, court filings, and submitting a petition. Also, with private agencies, the fees depend on the agency itself. Some private agency adoptions cost more than others, so you may want to shop around to keep your cost of adoption within your budget.
An independent adoption cuts out the agency entirely. During an independent adoption, the birth parents reach out directly to prospective parents and transfer the physical and legal custody of the child. However, although it cuts out the adoption agency, several professional services are needed during the process.
The child can be handed over to the adoptive parents as early as at the hospital after birth. The birth parents choose the child’s adoptive family based on the information about the adoptive parents including age, financial stability, and other information. Additionally, independent adoption is normally considered an open adoption, meaning the birth parents can reach out to the adoptive parents and adoptive child after the adoption process.
There are many laws and principles guarding independent adoption. For example, adoptive parents have to be at least ten years ahead of the child they decide to adopt. Also, the adoptive parents cannot have family ties with the birth parents, among other restrictions. There is a different process for relatives wishing for the adoptive placement of a child.
What Is the Cost of Independent Adoption in California?
According to a federal service— Child Welfare Information Gateway—independent adoption costs about $15,000 to $40,000. In an independent adoption, adoptive parents pay all the medical fees of the birth parents, the social services fees, the adoptive and birth parents’ legal representation fees, court fees, etc.
While an independent adoption does cut costs, seeking an independent adoption decree can be overwhelming. Navigating adoption laws and ensuring everything is done correctly without an adoption service is a tall order, and an experienced adoption attorney can quickly hike up the costs of adoption. Legal document assistant services like A People’s Choice are a good middle ground. A People’s Choice can help you avoid costly DIY adoption mistakes and ensures that all your adoption paperwork is filled out comprehensively.
Foster Care Adoption
Last but not least on our types of adoption list is foster care adoption. Among the variety of adoption programs in California, foster care adoption is the cheapest and most sought-after option.
Foster care adoption lets you take legal and physical custody of children whose birth parents’ rights have been cut off by the court. A foster child’s birth family often loses custody based on neglect, abuse, or poor parenting. The primary goal of foster care is to eventually reunite the child with their biological family.
However, in some cases, this is never possible. As a result, the birth parent’s rights are cut off, and the child becomes open for adoption. These children can either be adopted by their foster parents or adoptive parents. In most cases, adoptive legal parents don’t need to become foster parents first. However, before adopting from foster care, you must meet specific criteria.
You should note that if you’re seeking a baby for adoption, foster care adoptions likely won’t work for you. Likewise, the legal termination of the children’s parental rights can complicate matters. Regardless, foster care adoptions can greatly better these children’s lives.
What Is the Cost of Foster Care Adoption in California?
Unlike the private and independent adoption types, adopting from foster care guarantees minimal costs. The government reduces the cost of adopting from foster care to about $2,000. Furthermore, once the child is placed in a foster parent’s care, a monthly stipend is given to the child’s parent to help them nurture the child until maturity.
When adoptive parents decide to adopt a child from a country, it is called international adoption. Unlike domestic adoption, where newborn babies and older children (foster care) are adopted, international adoption is often only concerned with infants.
To qualify for international adoption, adoptive parents have to pass the criteria set by the foreign country they chose to adopt. They also have to meet adoption requirements set by USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), Hague Convention Laws, and California. In addition to all this, are also essential requirements for age, marital status, citizenship, etc.
International adoption is much more intricate than domestic adoption because more parties are involved. However, with proper guidance from an attorney or a reliable legal services provider, it can be done.
What Is the Cost of International Adoption in California?
It is hard to estimate how much international adoption costs for potential parents. This is because it varies significantly depending on the country and programs.
Since this process requires some complicated paperwork and numerous family services and legal fees, the cost is usually high. The average price of international adoption is between $20,000 to $45,000. The overall expenses of international adoption contain the following:
- Child medical expenses
- Attorney fees
- Registration fees
- Documentation and authentication
- The chosen adoption program fees
- Travel expenses
The list above is not comprehensive and, as we said can vary depending on the country and adoption opportunity. It is vital to do thorough research and confirm you have the funds set aside before opting for international adoption.
What Documents Do I Need for Adoption in California?
Although the different types of adoptions vary slightly in the documents required, here is a basic list of required adoption documentation:
- Birth certificate
- Proof of citizenship
- Marriage certificate
- Employer letter
- Financial statement
- Police reports
- Medical reports
- An INS approval notice
For more information on the documents needed for adoption and how to file them, check here.
How Much Does Adoption Cost in California? Less with A People’s Choice!
Adoption, as with other legal processes, can be very frustrating. It is not just about its costs, but also the document preparations and the ramifications of paperwork errors. An attorney is an integral part of many adoption processes; an experienced adoption attorney is knowledgeable in the states’ adoption process affairs and can help execute the right choices properly. However, they can be cost-prohibitive for many.
There are ways to both cut costs and ensure your documents are well prepared and error-free for the adoption process. With A People’s Choice and its affordable pricing, you can enjoy a seamless and stress-free independent adoption process with all your paperwork correctly filled out and filed. Contact us today to kickstart your adoption process!