Search high and low, and we bet you won’t find attorneys posting their adoption fees online. Here, we’ll do just that. We believe in transparency with our fees, and today we’ll share with you what we typically charge for adoptions.
First things first, the fee will depend on the type of adoption matter. There are essentially 3 broad categories of adoptions – private adoptions, foster care adoptions, and registration of international adoption decrees. Note: “private” adoption simply means an adoption that does not involve the foster care system.
Adoptions, and mainly private adoptions, can be subcategorized as relative, stepparent, or nonrelative adoptions. Relative adoption means the adoptive parent is related or kin to the child. A grandparent adoption is an example. Relative (including grandparent) and stepparent adoptions are less costly than nonrelative adoptions because no home study is required.
There is also such a thing as an adult adoption where the person adopted is 21 or older. Whether the person adopted is an adult or child does not really impact the work involved or the legal fees.
Another important distinction to understand is whether the adoption is contested or uncontested. To boil it down, an adoption is uncontested if the birth parents consent to the adoption and sign a formal court document voluntarily surrendering their parental rights. A contested adoption, on the other hand, means at least one parent does not consent. If any birth parent does not consent, then the proposed adoptive parents must prove the parents have abandoned or deserted the child or are mentally, morally, or otherwise unfit. Contested adoptions are more costly than uncontested because a trial is required to terminate the rights of the nonconsenting birth parent or parents based on these criteria.
Other classifications of adoption worth mentioning are open and closed adoptions. An open adoption means the birth parents continue to be a part of the child’s life after the adoption. With closed adoption, the birth parents are no longer involved. Whether an adoption is open or closed has very little to do with the legal process because, as a practical matter, an adoption gives the adoptive parents legal authority to have total control over parenting decisions, including whether to allow contact with the birth parent. Thus, the open/closed distinction has no bearing on the legal fees.
So, with all of that out of the way, how much does it cost? For private adoptions that are uncontested, our attorney’s fee ranges from $1500 to $2500. In addition, if the adoption is not a relative or stepparent adoption, you will need to obtain a home study. For a home study, an adoption agency meets with the proposed adoptive parents and fills out a report on the suitability of their home. The home study also contains a recommendation of whether the court should approve the adoption. The home study usually costs $1000 to $1600, depending on what adoption agency you use to perform the home study. For relative (for example, grandparent) and stepparent adoptions, no home study is required.
For private adoptions that are contested, the attorney’s fee generally ranges from $2500 to $4000. If the birth parent hires a lawyer, the cost can be more. In addition, for contested adoptions, a guardian ad litem must be appointed, which is an added cost. Essentially, the guardian ad litem performs the same function as a home study. The guardian ad litem fee is usually $500 to $1500.
For foster care adoptions, we generally charge $1500 to $2000. Importantly, the state will reimburse $1000 for the attorney’s fees. So foster care parents can expect to pay $500 to $1000 out of pocket for the adoption. There is no additional cost of a home study because a home study will have already been performed by the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services.
For registration of international adoptions, we typically change a flat fee of $2000.
If more than one child is being adopted, usually we will discount whatever the fee is by half for any additional child.
All of the fee estimates stated above include the court filing fees and newspaper publication fees. In other words, the fees listed include everything, and there are no additional expenses other than those stated.
We would love to talk to you about your adoption matter. Feel free to give us a call at (601) 827-3031 or email us using the contact link on our website.