Four types of adoption

There are four main types of adoption. The first option is to use a private agency, which takes care of the entire adoption process, including finding an expecting mom interested in giving her child to a new family. Another common option is international adoption, which has its own unique adoption costs, from travel expenses to dossier authentication required by specific countries. You can also choose to adopt via your state’s foster system through a public or private agency. Finally, there’s the option of adopting a stepchild if the other biological parent relinquishes parental rights.

Adoption costs and considerations

No matter which option you choose, the adoption process is expensive, with agency and legal fees at the top of the list. On average in the U.S., it can cost $45,000 to adopt through an agency. In contrast, it can cost $2,500 to adopt through the foster care system.1 There are also other costs associated with raising a child that is unique to adoptive families.

One concern you may face if adopting an older child is whether he or she is ready for an age-appropriate grade level or requires additional learning assistance, which could mean the extra cost of a tutor or special schooling. In addition, there’s the matter of higher education, whether for college or vocational training. While setting up a 529 college savings plan is one practical step all parents can take to pay for their child’s continuing education, if you’re adopting a child who’s older, you might have to increase your deposits.

An adopted child may also require additional medical care and treatment at first. Immunizations may be required as part of the visa application in the case of international adoption, and any newly-adopted child may need to make more visits to the doctor to compensate for an incomplete medical history, or to treat existing medical conditions.2

To help with the cost of adoption, some employers offer adoption assistance, such as referrals to licensed adoption agencies, partial reimbursement for financing adoption, and parental leave, so check with your employer to see what assistance is available to you.

Protecting your adopted family

As a new parent, you’ll also need to think about protecting your family in case anything happens to you. For example, if your family depends on your income, they could be in serious financial trouble if you’re unable to work. Consider disability income insurance, which can help replace a portion of your income if you become too sick or injured to work. Even if your employer offers basic disability income insurance, you may want to consider supplementing that coverage with an additional policy that will help protect you and your family, both now and well into the future.

In addition, a life insurance policy is a good way to help guarantee the people you leave behind will receive financial protection after you’re gone.3 If you have coverage through your employer, but suspect it’s not enough, seek guidance from an established financial professional.

Adoption is a viable option for any family, but there are unique costs involved — some related to the adoption process itself and some related to the needs of the child. With proper planning and protection, adopting a child can be what it’s meant to be — one of life’s most fulfilling experiences.

Stay at the forefront

Looking for more research, resources, and insights? Visit Guardian Edge to stay informed of the latest industry trends.

Go now

Guardian Edge is your resource for the latest insights on workplace trends
Get insights



“How Much Does It Cost To Adopt A Child?” National Adoption Foundation,, 2021


All life insurance policy guarantees are subject to the timely payment of all required premiums and the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment, or medical advice. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents, and employees do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional regarding your individual situation.

2021-130411 20231231