Loans, Taxes, and Law

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt Someone Over 18?

Adopting an adult is a big decision that involves a formal legal process. Unlike adopting a child, there are typically no agency fees involved when adopting another adult. However, there are still court costs and legal fees to consider. In this article, we’ll break down the average costs associated with adult adoption and the factors that influence expenses.

Average Cost of Adult Adoption

The average cost of adopting an adult generally ranges from $425 to $1,425, according to estimates. Some sources indicate the costs can range even wider, from $100 on the low end up to $1,500 or more. The wide range demonstrates how the specifics of each case can impact overall adoption expenses.


While adopting a child often incurs fees of $20,000 or more, adopting an adult is significantly less expensive in most situations. Much of this cost difference is due to the absence of agency involvement in adult adoptions. With agency facilitation, home studies, and other formalities required for child adoptions, the costs stack up. Adult adoption is a simpler legal transaction between consenting parties.

Factors That Influence the Costs

There are a few key factors that affect the total costs of adopting an adult. These include:

  • Attorney Fees – Hiring an adoption attorney is recommended to assist with the legal process and paperwork. Attorney fees range from $100 to $1,500, depending on experience level and location. Complex cases may incur higher fees.
  • Court Filing Fees – When petitioning the court for an adult adoption, filing fees in the range of $100 to $500 apply depending on jurisdiction. Home study fees are not necessarily required for adult adoptions.
  • Fingerprinting – Some states require fingerprinting and background checks of the adoptive parent(s), adding $50 to $100+ to the overall costs.
  • Service Fees – Fees for legally serving notice to biological parents may apply in certain cases. This ranges from $20 to $100+.
  • Miscellaneous Costs – Other potential expenses include document certification, copies of birth certificates, health exams if required, and travel expenses associated with the adoption process.

As you can see, attorney fees make up the bulk of the overall cost for most adult adoptions. The other costs depend on specific legal requirements in your state. Working with an experienced adoption lawyer is the best way to understand the complete costs involved.

Varying Costs Across Different States

Since each state has its own laws pertaining to adult adoption, the total costs often vary significantly across different areas of the country. Below are a few examples:

  • Florida – Approximately $3,000-$3,500 on average. Florida has higher court filing fees around $400.
  • Texas – Roughly $500 to $2,000. Filing fee is $232-$252 depending on specific court.
  • California – Around $800 to $1,500 on average. $320 court filing fee plus other expenses.
  • New York – $1,000 to $5,000+ for an uncontested adoption. Higher legal fee range.
  • Pennsylvania – Between $500 to $2,000 typically. $72 filing fee and lower attorney fees. 

These examples demonstrate how location is a key cost factor, with higher legal fees often seen in states like New York and Florida. Doing research on your state expenses in advance is recommended.

Legal Fees for Adult Adoption

One of the largest expenses you’ll incur is the attorney fees involved in finalizing the adoption. On average, adoption lawyers cost:

  • $100 – $250 per hour on average nationwide
  • $1,000 – $1,500 total fees for typical adult adoption
  • $2,000 – $5,000+ for complex or contested adoptions 

Having an experienced adoption attorney guide you through the process is strongly advised, even if it contributes more to the costs. Navigating the legal formalities and filings is complex without professional legal expertise.


An attorney can also minimize unnecessary costs by avoiding procedural mistakes, suggest ways to expedite the process, and negotiate fees in some cases. This can provide cost savings that offset their legal fees over the long run.

How to Minimize the Costs of Adult Adoption

There are a few key ways you may be able to reduce the overall expenses associated with adult adoption:

  • If the person being adopted is a stepchild or other family member, costs are often lower since complex legal considerations are reduced.
  • See if you qualify for any financial assistance programs offered by some nonprofit adoption organizations.
  • Work with an adoption clinic at a law school, which may provide lower-cost services.
  • Opt for an attorney who charges flat fees rather than hourly rates if possible.
  • Complete the home study process yourself in states where allowed instead of hiring someone.
  • If the adoption is amicable, ask if the other parties will waive any allowable fees or costs.

With some strategic decisions and research into alternative options in your state, you may be able to reduce the total adoption costs by several hundred dollars in some cases.

Adult Adoption Financing Options

Since most adoptions cost at least $1,000 or more, you’ll need a plan to finance the expenses. Here are some options to consider if needed:

  • Personal Loans – An unsecured personal loan allows you to borrow a fixed amount and repay it in fixed monthly payments over a set repayment term. Interest rates are usually lower than credit cards.
  • 401(k) or Retirement Account Loans – If allowed by your plan, borrowing from your retirement savings is an option. While not ideal, it allows you to pay yourself back over time with interest.
  • Credit Cards – Credit cards can be used to cover adoption costs but should be avoided if possible due to high interest rates. Transferring to a 0% intro APR card may help lower interest fees initially.
  • Family Loans – Borrowing from a family member is a lower-interest alternative. Draw up a formal loan agreement detailing interest, terms, and timeline.
  • Home Equity Loan/Line of Credit – Leveraging home equity is an option if you have sufficient equity. The interest is usually tax-deductible as well. 
  • Grants – Some private organizations and nonprofits may offer small adoption grants or fundraising assistance.

Saving and budgeting for adoption costs are ideal to avoid financing fees and interest. But explore low-cost borrowing options if needed.

Conclusion – Know the Costs and Prepare Accordingly

Adopting an adult comes with many rewards but also significant legal and financial considerations. Typical costs range from $425 on the low end to over $1,500 on average based on legal fees, filing costs, and other adoption-related expenses. Where you adopt and whether any complex factors are involved impact the overall price tag.

Doing thorough research on the requirements and projected costs for your state in advance is crucial. This allows you to budget wisely and decide which financing options may be necessary. Consult with an adoption attorney early on to understand the full process, timeline, and costs.

While adopting an adult is a big decision, don’t let the costs deter you if it’s the right choice for your family. With the right financial preparations and legal support, the adoption process can go smoothly. The lifelong bonds formed make the investment worthwhile for many families in the long run.

Harper Lewis
Harper Lewis, a senior author, seamlessly blends literary prowess with a profound understanding of law and insightful opinions. Her multifaceted expertise enriches her work, offering readers a unique perspective at the intersection of literature and legal insight.

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