How to Adopt for {Almost} Free


John and I adopted two children for {almost} free. I want to share with you something that most people don’t know … but first back to the typical cost of adoptions.

Cost of private adoption 

John and I adopted a baby girl from an amazing birth mom in 2010, but as everyone knows adoption is not cheap. Since it was a direct placement there were numerous fees, to the tune of about $6,000 – $7,000. Our daughter is worth every penny, of course.

The cost of most private adoptions cost $20,000 – $30,000. Our adoption was cheaper because we had a connection with the biological mom through a mutual friend and we didn’t use an adoption agency. Instead a lawyer handled the adoption.

Private adoption is a wonderful option if you can afford it!

Cost of international adoption

Before we adopted Alyssa we had our minds set on adopting from China. We did a lot of paperwork for that and spent another $6,000 – $7,000 through an agency. We never got close to being matched with a child though. Right around the time our paperwork was complete, China started severely limiting the number of healthy baby girls that they allowed to be adopted.

My heart was broken, but looking back I’m thankful we went down that path. Attempting to adopt internationally really opened our minds to the plight of orphans. The needs of Chinese girls opened my heart to the needs of all orphans around the world.

The cost of most international adoptions is $25,000 – $50,000. There are programs that can help with the lost.

International adoption is a wonderful option if you can afford it!

The cost of adopting from foster care

By the time Alyssa was 2-years-old we started talking about adopting again. Our older kids were grown, and we wanted Alyssa to have a sibling close to her age. (And the needs of orphans was forefront in our minds!) But our main discouragement was the cost. John had started working for a ministry, which meant less money. We didn’t have $6,000-$20,000 to spend. Still, I could not shake the calling on my heart to adopt more children.

Then one afternoon John went to lunch with a friend, and we learned an amazing fact: in Arkansas, where we lived, it cost almost nothing to adopt from foster care.

I had heard about the needs of foster children after moving to Arkansas. The Project Zero Heart Gallery ( had been displayed at our church, and even though we were interested we were still concerned about the cost. Yet discovering that adopting from foster care is {almost} free everything change. It became possible for us to pursue adoption.

Our process

We contacted DHS in Arkansas in March of 2012, started adoption/foster care classes in July, and had our house open for adoption by the end of November. We were matched with children by January 2013.

In our state there are classes for families interested in foster care and adoption. We told our local DHS office that we wanted to go the adoption-only route. That means that the rights of the parents had already been terminated, and the children were open for adoption. Yes, there are foster kids in need of homes, but there are also already children who are just waiting for forever parents.

Because we were willing to accept some special needs and sibling groups, we were matched with a girl (5) and a boy (2), and there was some special needs with these children.

What was the cost? We had to pay for physicals to turn in with our paperwork. That was it. Other than that there was lots of paperwork to do, cleaning and preparing our home for the home studies, attending adoption training, and reading lots of books on adoption.

Adopting from foster care is a wonderful option, and almost everyone can afford it!

Pre-adoptive parents get financial assistance from the state

A few more things you might be interested in. In Arkansas it takes 6 months of having the child(ren) in your home before the adoption is final. You get paid as foster parents during this time. And, in some cases, this pay continues. (The continuance of board pay is more likely for special needs children, sibling groups, and harder to place children.) My children continue to get medical insurance through the state and help with college after they graduate from high school.

The kids faces say it all

I can go on and on about the challenges and joys of adopting from the foster care system. There are challenges, but the right therapy has transformed my kids! And they are the joy of my heart. I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

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What about you?

The first challenge people often worry about is cost, and that’s why I’m writing this post. Would your consideration of adopting children change if cost wasn’t the issue?

Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Pray about it. What is God stirring in your heart?
  2. Talk to your spouse about it. Both parents should be 100% on board.
  3. Talk to friends who’ve adopted. Get the real-life facts from someone who’s been there.
  4. Attend an informational meeting in your county. Most counties have regular informational meetings where you can get your questions answered. You’ll also receive paperwork to discover your eligibility.

More information

Currently hundreds of thousands of kids are waiting for a forever family to adopt them. These are parents who were put into foster care–for reasons beyond their control–and their parents’ rights were later terminated. If you’re interested here are a few more resources to help:

In Arkansas:

The Call. (

Mobilizing Christian families to foster or adopt children from Arkansas foster care


The Project Zero. (

A few of the kids available for adoption in Arkansas:

Bryce, Devin, & Adrian

Bryce, Devin, & Adrian

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Project Zero Disney 2014 031


Note: there are more kids that are available for adoption than on the Adoption Gallery of any state. The children profiled on adoption galleries are usually older kids or sibling groups who are harder to place.

You can also adopt younger kids from foster care. Talk to your local state foster care office for more information.

*Photos used with permission of The Project Zero.


Successful Foster Care Adoption by Deborah Beasley

Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow by Gregory Keck

The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family by Karyn B. Purvis

When Love Is Not Enough: A Guide to Parenting with RAD-Reactive Attachment Disorder by Nancy Thomas

Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control: A Love-Base Approach to Helping Attachment-

Challenged Children with Severe Behaviors by Heather T. Forbes


Other blogs I’ve written about adoption:

How to Adopt for {Almost} Free

Adoption from Foster Care: Your Questions Answered, Part 1

Adoption from Foster Care: Your Questions Answered, Part 2

Adoption from Foster Care: Your Questions Answered, Part 3

Adoption from Foster Care: Your Questions Answered, Part 4

Choosing to Adopt: One Couple’s Story

Adoption {She Said}

Adoption {He Said}

The Sad News About Adoption in Our World

Meet the New Goyer Children (our announcement in 2013!)

Here is a video the local news did on our family


My novels that have main characters who were adopted:


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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  1. In New Mexico, the adoption of my son from foster care was subsidized and literally did not cost us a cent that we didn’t electively spend (like driving 225 miles to the courthouse for the adoption ceremony instead of doing by phone).

    People are always shocked to hear that adoption doesn’t have to be expensive. Almost any family can afford it, and there are so many kids in need of forever families in every state.

  2. Kerry Darnell says:

    Is single-parent foster care allowed? I live in Maryland, if that makes any difference.

  3. What a wonderful post! I was just researching the other day and was crushed when I found out it was 30K here in AZ to adopt. Children are more than worth it of course, but that is far outside of what we can afford. This post gave me some hope. We are looking to start a family and would love to have both biological (if it’s God’s will) and adopted children. I have always felt a calling to adopt 🙂

  4. I agree with you that adoption is wonderful and that adopting from the foster care system is a great, inexpensive option, But it can be heartbreaking as well. My sister and her husband were an “adoption only” couple who brought Baby M home from the hospital at 3 days old. They were approved and met the qualifications. Baby M’s biological parents had no rights. The social workers said the baby was definitely adoptable. Seven months later, Baby M was taken from them and given to the biological grandmother…even when social workers advised against it. The devastation my sister suffered after bonding with her child, then having the child taken from her, was almost unbearable. I’m not saying couples shouldn’t adopt from the foster care system, but that all the ramifications should be considered.

    • Kim A. I’ve seen that happen too. In Arkansas it’s called in “Legal Risk” adoption since the parent’s rights aren’t fully terminated yet. I’m so sorry that your family had to go through that! I agree that all ramifications need to be considered and discussed with adoption specialists.

  5. I am just in tears reading this post. My heart is sorely open too adoption and fostering, but as of yet, God has not placed it in my husband’s heart. I keep praying that God will change my heart or his. Thank you for sharing this post. Your children are beautiful. I pray that many people will act on this.

  6. Heather Lessem says:

    What an awesome story! I have a dear friend (from another state) who adopted her amazing son from foster care, and her experience really spurred me on to do the same. However, I live in Colorado and I spoke to the county DHS here, and I was so discouraged to learn that where I’m at, they don’t have ANY adoptable kids under the age of 10 that aren’t already in foster care, and if the current foster parents don’t want to adopt them, other foster parents in the system are contacted and given the option. In fact, they won’t even certify someone for adoption unless they are willing to foster first. So, now we’re waiting on the Lord for plan B. 🙂 His plans, His glory!!

  7. christa sanders says:

    we looked into it, but learned we don’t have enough monthly income at this time for it…again, we are in ministry also. praying for the day we make enough monthly to be considered.

  8. Adoption through foster care is cheap financially but still comes with a huge price. A foster child may and 80% off the time returns to relatives. You could have the child in your home for years and then they go back. If you have yrs and yrs to wait then great but if you don’t I would consider another way. The regulations and time spent is huge and not a guarantee. I have had 15 so far. And haven’t been able to adopt any of them. I can’t afford adoption any other way so it seems like I won’t be having any more children.

    • Emily, thank you so much for sharing your experiences. Thank you for all that you’re doing for these kids! In Arkansas you can choose “adoption” or “foster care.” If you choose adoption you will be matched with children whose parents rights are already terminated. I know it works differently in different states.

  9. Tricia,

    I praise the Lord for your post. I’ve been periodically thinking about the possibility of adopting older children (teens) over the last three years or so. That is, if the Lord ever opened up that door. My husband and I haven’t really discussed the topic since we’ve only been married for 5 1/2 years and been blessed with three beautiful biological children in that time, and seeing as I’m only 26 years old, I have several more possible childbearing years.

    My first real exposure to kids that needed adopting was in junior high/high school with a brother and sister in my class who had been in the system for years, being hard to place because they were siblings. My heart broke for them then, but there was nothing I could do, and sadly I lost touch with them when they got shuffled again. What got me recently thinking about the idea of possible adoptions is that my husband desires to have between 6 and 20 kids (no joke). While that’s great for some, I personally can’t fathom BIRTHING that 20 children. Six, sure… but 20? I know some do it by the grace of God, but wow, I honestly don’t think I could… despite loving the actual birth experience. However, a large family compiled of loved biological and loved adopted children is something I believe we could do. Maybe not 20, mind you, but that’s completely in the Lord’s hands.

    However, right now, adoption is not feasible because of our current financial situation, but reading your post helped bring hope that some day, if the Lord wills it, we could add to our family through adoption. Of course, the Lord will need to lay adoption on my husband’s heart first, and then open the actual door to adoption.

    For now, I will enjoy my precious little ones, thanking and praising God for them. If He opens the door for adoption, then we will praise Him more. If not, we will still praise Him. Whatever the Lord’s decision, I greatly rejoice in the thought that some brothers and sisters in Christ (and maybe us someday as well) are tangibly demonstrating – by adopting a child – the love the Father had for us when He sent His Son to be a sacrifice for our sins so that we could be adopted into His family.

    Love in Christ, our Lord,

  10. Thank you for your post! My husband and I have felt for a while now that we are called to advocate for orphans in some way in our future. We have worked with women in the sex industry for several years and have seen the devastation that not belonging to a family can have on them. We’re hoping to be able to continue to fight the sex trade but would love to see a more preventative approach taken through the foster care system. We live in Kentucky, do you know where I can find more information about states that allow adoption through foster care?

  11. Actually, just found the links you posted. lol Thank you!

  12. Thank you for all the info that you have written about adoption. It has been on my heart for some time (I am unable to carry after 4 miscarriages) to adopt & my husband & teen daughter are open to it (she really yearns for a sibling closer to her age as her brother is 22).
    Special needs is not an issue for us as daughter is on that ‘shelf’ & I homeschool for that reason. I am well versed in Braille/Sign Language (it was my goal to teach them, but for now I’m working on teaching my mother braille since she is losing her sight & is VERY stubborn).

  13. Bridgette says:

    I am so find to see someone speaking out making this fact known. We too adopted through the state of Maine. Liscenced and within months were placed with a 14 month old blond hair blue eyed baby adopted the next year. We too were adoption only. Then a year later received 2 girls and a boy 2,6,5 we now have our family… So happy blessed. Special needs dont we all have some special unique needs? Our lives are all lived with challenges and obstacles. However our job as parents is to instruct and show by example that regardless of cituation of life we can be happy with purpose and contribute to society around us… Thank you for your article!!

  14. Georgianna says:

    Would you be willing to share what type of therapy has made the difference for your children? We are in the process of becoming foster parents right now and have become aware of the many challenges involved. I am hoping if we can find the right therapy we can have a happy family too.

  15. I have had a few friends that have adopted through doing foster care and it has been less taxing than my friends that have created a family through different methods. I know that adoption is a beautiful gift, and am looking into it for a friend who has been trying for nine years to have children. She has tried many means, and so I will suggest, foster care as an option. Thank you for sharing this as a secondary means to start the life she has desired.

  16. I really really want to adopt but not sure w/ my husband.I talked him couple of years ago that i want a baby to be specific 7 years ago and i ask him again and still he does not want kids or not ready yet he is already 40 yrs. old + and i am not getting any younger. And i do not want to ask him again because when he said no again i will fell rejected. So for my own self i want to adopt, i want to have a baby through adoption.I live in Arkansas but i am concern about the expenses though. Hope i can adopt a a baby girl or baby boy does not matter.Give me some advice Thank you

    • Friend, my first encouragement is that God would change your husband’s heart. That it was happened in my case. I didn’t nag. I just prayed!

      We’re in Arkansas, too. It’s completely free to adopt from foster care. You can go to an informational meeting here:

    • hi friend. if you want to adopt i can boldly recomend an agency to you where i adopted my 2 kids and now i am living in a happy home with my kids… contact this great agency or call 2348149652453 and i assure you that you will get the kinda adoption you want and it stress free… you can give it a try there and gpod luck!!!

  17. Lisa Avendano says:

    I would like to adopt a child but I don’t know how to go by it can someone please help me.

  18. Lisa Avendano says:

    I would like to adopt two children but do not know how to go buy it

  19. Annette Vallejo says:

    We live in corpus Christi TX and my husband works as a security guard and I work at Driscoll children hospital I have 4 children all grown up and married and my husband has no children we have been married for 8 years and very much in love and we are looking to adopt a son we live to go to church and we pray that it won’t cost that much or nothing we have a lot of love to give to a child age 1 or 2 years old so my husband can teach him how to play ball and go fishing I know he will be a very good father can you help us my name is annette vallejo and my husband is benancio Vallejo

  20. Wendy Ferguson says:


    • Annette Vallejo says:

      Hi Wendy this is annette we are so excited to start the process to foster to adopt we want to adopt a baby boy probably about 1 to 2 years old I have had 5 children but my husband has never had kids and that’s why we want to adopt he will be a very loving father his brother recently had a baby boy and the look on his face says it all I know he wants a baby. We have been happly married for 8 years and just bought a house my children are all grown up and married and now it’s just us we love each other so much and we have alot of love to give to a child

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