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Adoption is an emotional process and can come with a hefty price tag. Depending on the type of adoption, the total cost can range from less than $1,000 to $60,000 or more.
While some employers have family-building benefits that may include adoption assistance, such as reimbursements and paid leave, adoptive parents more commonly cover these expenses themselves.
Putting cash aside in savings is the most cost-effective way to pay for adoption, but loans can also help cover the costs. Learn more about how adoption loans work, how to compare financing options and other payment methods to consider.
» MORE: How much does it cost to adopt?
Adoption loans are personal loans that you can use to pay for expenses such as agency costs, medical and travel expenses and court fees. An adoption loan is money you borrow and repay with interest over a set amount of time, typically two to seven years. Compare adoption loans from banks, credit unions and online lenders to find one with a low annual percentage rate and monthly payments that fit your budget.
Who it's best for: Existing bank customers with good to excellent credit (a score of 690 or higher).
If you have a good relationship with your bank and strong credit, consider applying for a personal bank loan. Banks typically have low rates and perks for existing customers. In addition, most banks allow borrowers to apply in person at a branch location or online.
» MORE: How to get a loan from the bank
Credit union loan
Who it's best for: Members of a credit union and those with thin credit profiles.
Credit unions can offer low rates and fees on personal loans. Applicants are typically assessed on their whole financial picture when qualifying for a loan, so those with fair or bad credit (scores of 689 and lower) may qualify more easily with a credit union. You must be a credit union member to apply.
Online personal loan
Who it's best for: Prospective parents who need fast funding and prefer managing their finances online.
Online loans provide a complete online application and funding process. These lenders offer loans to borrowers across the credit score spectrum. However, a higher credit score typically means a lower interest rate. If you need funds quickly, some online personal loan lenders can approve and fund a loan within a few days.
Most online lenders let you pre-qualify to preview rates and terms on potential loans. It only requires a soft credit check, meaning there's no harm to your credit score. In addition, pre-qualifying with multiple lenders lets you compare different loan options to find a low rate and monthly payments that fit your budget.
*Rates in the table above are estimated ranges and may differ for specific loan purposes.
Who it's best for: Families with a financial need or aligned interests with an organization's mission.
Some nonprofit organizations or foundations offer loans to prospective parents of adoptees. These loans can cover all or a portion of the adoption cost and come with little or no interest. Organizations such as A Child Waits Foundation may require you to have a co-signer and show evidence of financial need when applying for a loan.
How to compare loan options
Here are factors to consider when deciding between loan options.
APR: The annual percentage rate is the loan's interest rate plus fees. You can use the APR for an apples-to-apples comparison between loan options. The loan with the lowest APR is the least expensive option.
Monthly payment: A loan's monthly payment is based on the loan amount, APR and loan term. Payments typically start 30 days after receiving the loan funds. Look for a loan with payments that fit comfortably into your monthly budget.
Fees: Some personal loan lenders charge origination fees from 1% to 10% of the loan amount. Some may also charge a late payment fee.
Loan term: Since the adoption wait time can range from a few months to several years, keep the repayment term in mind when deciding how long you want to repay it. A longer loan term can mean lower monthly payments but higher interest costs.
Other ways to pay for adoption
Family and friends
Family and friends can be a valuable lifeline when it comes to growing your family. Consider talking to family and friends who may offer a low- or no-interest loan or a portion of the money as a gift. Crowdfunding is another way friends and people in your community can help raise funds.
A home equity line of credit is a revolving line of credit based on the value of your home. With a HELOC, you can draw money as you need and pay it back monthly, usually at lower rates than a personal loan. It can be a good option if you aren't sure how much you'll need upfront. Your home is collateral on a HELOC, which means the lender can take it if you fail to make payments.
An adoption grant — funds that don't need to be repaid — is another way to pay for adoption. Organizations such as WAT! (We Adopt Too) Black Family Adoption Assistance, Gift of Adoption Fund and Helpusadopt.org offer grants to cover adoption expenses. With organizations like these, you'll need to check deadlines and eligibility requirements, like parental status and financial need. Upon applying, you may need to pay a fee, provide references and show proof of an approved home study.