A couple from my hometown adopted a girl from China several years ago. Part of the reason they adopted her was to rescue a female child from communist China with its one child per family laws. But a large part of their consideration was the sheer cost involved in adoption in the U.S. For my friend and his wife, it was cheaper to fly to China twice and adopt this girl than to adopt an American child through an adoption agency. The very idea that it is more expensive to adopt a local child than one from the other side of the world is just absurd, but many people believe that $20,000 or $30,000 is fairly typical for an adoption in America. IT’S NOT!

Adoption agencies often charge these exorbitant fees for adoptions, but a lot of the cost is wrapped up in the services the agency provides and overhead. Services like screening the children, processing the legal aspects of the adoption, providing training to adoptive parents, coordinating social studies, advertising, paying a staff, and leasing an office space drive up the cost of an adoption.

The simple act of adopting a child can in fact be done for well under $3000 in many, many instances. In fact adoptions of children from foster care in Texas can sometimes be done for little or no out-of-pocket cost from the family because the state of Texas pays a stipend to registered attorneys to pay for the legal process of the adoption.

Another example of an inexpensive adoption is a step parent adoption. In this circumstance, a step mother or father will adopt his or her stepchild. This type of adoption provides numerous benefits to the child, and the process is simple, straightforward, and explained in the Texas Family Code. Sometimes a step parent adoption can be difficult if the child’s other birth parent will not voluntarily relinquish his or her parental rights to the child, but if the other parent does not have a significant relationship with the child, owes a lot of money in back child support, or simply does not wish to continue paying child support for a child he or she does not have a relationship with, often he or she will be happy to relinquish his or her parental duties, thereby paving the way for the stepparent adoption.

Each adoption has its own unique circumstances and considerations, but adoptions simply are not as expensive as many people believe in many instances. As always, this essay is not meant to replace legal advice, but is meant only to educate. If you are interested in adopting a child in Texas, I encourage you to seek competent legal counsel to discuss your situation and options. But do keep in mind that for the cost of a reasonable vacation, or a new TV for your A/V room, you could add a child to your family and change a life forever.