Adoption cases come with many differences and challenges in each case. If you are trying to adopt a child from a local orphanage or through an adoption service, the cost may be substantially lower than seeking a child from overseas. Other families, including LGBT couples, couples with children from previous relationships, and foster parents, use adoption to solidify their family as one legal unit. No matter what your situation, there is likely some cost attached. The Ventura adoption lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth break down some of the expenses and costs necessary for different types of adoption in California.
How Much Does Adoption Cost in California?
Every adoption requires certain standard fees and costs that you pay to the court and various agencies in California. Note that these costs are often quite high – but that many of them also make you eligible for some refunds. Especially if the child you adopt was in foster care or child welfare care, you may be eligible for certain monetary refunds. Come tax time, some of these expenses are also deductible or give you tax credits.
First, you need to pay for certain background investigations. This usually costs $100-$300, which covers fingerprinting, medical exams, and the filing fee with the court. You may also have to pay up to $500 to the adoption agency for their end of the processing costs. However, up to $400 of this could be refunded in certain situations.
For an independent adoption petition, the cost is $4,500. This may be reduced if you were approved during a “pre-placement evaluation.” In that case, it will cost $1,550.
In some cases, you may also qualify for assistance with this financial burden. The government likes to give people an incentive to adopt children who are already in foster programs or other programs, and sometimes authorizes financial assistance to help these children find good homes.
Keep in mind that these are the standard costs, but every situation is unique and may require different expenses. The primary difference in how much you pay comes from how you find the child. Adopting through an agency or adoption network may be cheaper than adopting from a birth mother directly – and both are often cheaper than a private, independent adoption (which has higher fees). International adoption or adoption under complex legal circumstances are often the most expensive adoptions.
Additional Expenses for International or Complicated Adoptions
If you wish to adopt a child from another country, another state, or adopt under complicated situations, you may be looking at a much higher cost. Each country has different fees associated with international adoptions, plus the cost of potentially multiple trips to the country. Adopting a child from China or Africa, for example, often costs around $40,000.
The two largest parts of this cost are, respectively, fees to the agencies or adoption program and travel. Not only do you have to pay California’s fees listed above, but you will need to pay additional costs to the country you’re adopting from. Many of these costs reach as high as around $15,000. Travel, especially if you need to go to the country multiple times, can cost around $10,000.
Complex situations often require more expense, but most of that comes from court costs and legal fees. In situations where the child’s parents still claim custody or you are competing with others for the adoption, you may need to mount legal challenges and take your case to court multiple times to achieve your adoption. If a birth parent refuses to relinquish child custody or you are adopting a child from an abusive home, you may need to petition a court to strip those parents of custody before you are free to adopt. This requires legal expenses and attorneys’ fees to achieve your goals.
Other situations may pose complex legal questions, especially if the adoption is unique or nontraditional. California law does not limit people to adopting children. Because of this, people may turn to adoption as an unconventional means of managing elder care or estate planning by adopting a grandparent or someone else. Some of this treads a fine line between legal and illegal or reasonable and unreasonable, and may require an uphill court battle to get permission to do what you want to do. Talk to an experienced adoption attorney for help with an unconventional or contested adoption situation.
Ventura Adoption Lawyers
The Ventura family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth have been serving the Ventura and Santa Barbara areas for over a decade. For a free consultation on your adoption case, call our adoption lawyers today. Our number is (805) 643-5555.