Adoption Process and Cost

Thank you for your interest in adopting a child with Down syndrome. We hope this page will provide you with the tools you need to educate yourself on Down syndrome, and adopting a child with Down syndrome within the United States.

Step 1 – Watch our webinar. Hosted by the National Down Syndrome Congress, this video is a 60 minute crash-course in how to adopt a child with Down syndrome within the US. It also explains the work of the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network. 

You can watch our webinar here. You will need to register first, then you will be taken to the webinar.

Step 2 – Start saving for adoption costs. Domestic, special needs adoption fees can range anywhere from little to no cost, and go up to over $20,000.

If you cannot afford to pay adoption fees, then you will need to be open to older children in foster care, who desperately need a forever family. You can view children in foster care here. Please note, you may still have to pay travel expenses when you travel to the child’s state to take placement of the child. Some children may require you visit them a few times to help with the transition process. Not all states reimburse for travel, and if states do reimburse for travel, they usually cap how much they reimburse to families.

Most private, domestic, special needs adoptions cost anywhere from $12,000 - $15,000. Those fees include the fees the adoption agency charges for an adoption.

What is not included in those fees, and could be additional in some adoption situations:
-Birth parent expenses
-Medical expenses of the birth mother and/or baby
-Travel expenses

Not all adoption situations will have additional fees!

These additional expenses could add a few thousand dollars to the adoption fee.

DO NOT LET THESE FEES SCARE YOU! When you join the NDSAN Registry, you will let us know how much you can pay towards adoption fees, and we will only contact you about situations that fit within your budget.

There is financial help:

Rainbow Kids created a great list of financial help resources here.

Check with your employer about adoption benefits. If they do not offer adoption benefits, here is more information about setting up adoption benefits for your place of employment.

The North American Council on Adoptable Children has great information on the Adoption Tax Credit here.

Step 3 – Determine which home study you want. Refer back to the webinar for more information on the home study process, and the types of home studies used. But to recap:

If you want to adopt a child from foster care, choose a public adoption home study which can be obtained by your county Department of Child & Family Services, Adoption/Foster Care division. Please note that there are little to no fees for children in foster care, and that most children in foster care will come with a monthly stipend (called a subsidy) that will help the family care for the child. The monthly stipend is with the child until the age of 18 or 21, depending on the state the child is from. Also note that it is very rare that a newborn or very young child is available in the foster care system. Please consider adopting an older child with very low fees and a monthly subsidy.

If you want to adopt a child privately and you want to adopt a newborn, choose a private, non-profit adoption agency to write your home study. Choosing a non-profit adoption agency will increase your chances of being able to adopt from all 50 states, and will help increase your chances of subsidy approval (see our webinar above for more details).  Contact the NDSAN here for a list of agencies in your area.

Once you determine which home study you want, begin the home study process with the agency.

Step 4 – When your home study is signed, dated, and you are immediately available to adopt.... Once your home study is complete, email me here.

Step 5 – Fill out NDSAN registration form. The registration form is only 3 pages, but please answer every question carefully and correctly. You will provide us with information about you, your family, your experience with Down syndrome, your idea of open adoption. You will then let us know what you are looking for in a child, what medical issues you are comfortable / have experience with, how much you can pay in adoption fees. Once we receive your completed form, we will enter your information into the NDSAN Registry.

Step 6 – Create a family profile. Family profiles are mandatory and must be submitted to the NDSAN in order to be contacted about possible adoption situations. Family profiles include pictures of you and your family, and you must include the following in your profile:

Person-First Language and the correct use of the term Down syndrome, which you can learn more about here.

Also include in your profile:

-The first page is an introduction of your family as a whole, and if you are married, talk about how you met your spouse and how long you have been married

-Talk about what faith you are, and the role faith plays in your family

-Devote one page to each family member currently living in your household (feel free to include 2 children on one page if you have a larger family)

-Include your education; if you went to college, please include what degree you graduated with

-Describe where you live – Is it a suburb? Metro area? Country? And include pictures of your house (nothing identifying – you can show the backyard, inside, whatever you are comfortable with); how close you are to a children’s hospital and if they provide cardiology services; how close you are to a Down syndrome clinic, if applicable; how close you are to the local Down syndrome parent group; the special education services your area provides

-Please talk about your extended family and include pictures, and how close they are to you and how often they visit.

-Please devote one page on what experience you have with Down syndrome and equally important is WHY you want to adopt a child with Down syndrome.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT include ANY identifying information, such as the city you reside in, schools you have attended, your last name, or the name of your employers or church. Please only include first names and the state you reside in.

Feel free to use the text from this sample profile here. NOTE: The attached example is for TEXT purposes ONLY. Please be professional and very creative in the setup, design, and color scheme of your family profile.  

Another option....since your family profile needs to look professional and you need to make the BEST impression for families, we have partnered with Arrow + Root to offer beautiful, professional family profiles to NDSAN families at special prices. Contact Mallory via email at Arrow + Root TODAY, and make sure to visit her website here

Step 7 - Get involved with your local Down syndrome parent group. Your local parent group will educate you on Down syndrome, and will help you to learn what the resources are in your area for children with Down syndrome, so that you will be set and ready to go when you adopt a child. Go to any workshops/programs offered, so that you can educate yourself on the various topics that surround Down syndrome, such as feeding, medical issues, therapies, etc. Volunteer for your local parent group, so that you can gain that experience that you will need to parent a child with Down syndrome. The more experience you have in the Down syndrome world, the more confidence a birth or expectant family will have in you as an adoptive parent.

You can find your local parent group here.

Step 8 – Welcome to the NDSAN Registry! When we receive your home study from your worker, your registration form and family profile from you, you will be ready to be considered for possible adoption situations. When your name comes up on a report for a potential release, we will contact you. It is okay to say no to a situation that you feel may not be a good fit for your family. No worries; we will remove you from that particular report and we will contact you when your name comes up again.

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