It’s a Shame that Adoption Costs so Much

by | 28 Feb, 2019 | 4 comments

One among many.

I know. Trust me. I’ve heard it. I’ve said it.

You’re not at the right place in life right now.

You don’t feel called to do this.

You’re family won’t adjust.

You just can’t.

It’s too hard.

It’s too much.

It’s a scary.

Believe me. I’ve said, felt, and thought all of these things at varying points in time. As less than 5% of Christians ever adopt and 3% of all adults, reasons abound.

                                                It costs too much!

At last! The golden BB, the magic bullet of logic and pragmatism that gets you off the hook.

I would love to but…I just cannot afford it. There’s no way. Just not possible. If you only knew how much my mortgage and car payment(s) were alone…and then there’s my cable bill…and wait…my vacation trip to the beach and…our bonus room needs a new flat screen…

Adoption costs way more than $40,000.

I’ll concede. Adoption can cost a pretty penny.

Domestic adoption through a private agency can range upward of $15,000. Start going international and the price tag skyrockets, tens of thousands of dollars. Unscrupulous agencies and corrupt facilitators line their pockets at the expense of orphaned children and families seeking to adopt.

A family from our church adopted two little boys from India. We held fundraisers. People pitched in, donated. There was a benefit concert. They sold t-shirts. The mother made repeated trips to India to wade through the red tape and corruption. After months of heartache, tears, uncertainty, struggle and tens of thousands of dollars, they brought the boys home.

Amen. Glory, hallelujah.

Now the real cost starts.

A typical vaginal birth in a hospital without complications costs about $3,000. Would you then say that the cost of having a child is $3,000? Well, in one sense, yes. But only a fool would not understand that this is only the start-up cost.

According to the USDA, the average family will spend $233,000 raising a child through the age of 18, not including the cost of college tuition. A $40,000 adoption is roughly 17% of the cost of raising a child to adulthood.

Adoption cost us way more than money. Fathering has been one of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve done. How do I put a price upon the love of my sons, the affections of my daughters? How could I cost-compare the highs and lows, the anguish and the triumph.

Adoption is harder than $40,000.

Our family has been forever changed by adoption. We’ve shed $40,000 worth of tears. We’ve reveled in $40,000 worth of laughter, lost $40,000 worth of sleep. We’ve basked in $40,000 worth of love. God has literally rewoven the fabric of our existence in the crucible of adoption.

Could I low-ball that?

$40k seems like a bargain.

Back to the hospital and the complication-free delivery for $3,000. What if there were complications? At what point do you pull the plug? Would a C-section for $4,500 be too much? Other complications may drive the cost toward $7000. How much is too much?

What would you pay to deliver the child, your son or your daughter, into your care?

Oh, that’s right.

You have insurance so it doesn’t cost you…anything…

Is all this really necessary?

Two things, three really.

1) We live in literally, the wealthiest nation in the history of the entire Universe. Over the last forty years, the average American home has nearly doubled in size as the average American family has shrunk by an entire person.

Allow me to translate. Our homes have become more and more palatial as our families have shrunk. We have bonus rooms, multiple vehicles. We take expensive vacations. We throw away thousands of dollars worth of food. Our poor people would be relatively rich in many other nations.

Is cost really the issue?

2) You cannot put a price tag on life. It’s a bargain at any cost.

Children desperately need a forever family. They desperately need a godly father to bring them up in the way of the Lord. Apart from adoption, kids with no family struggle severely in life. Pick an affliction and they suffer it disproportionately.

For the sake of some dollars, which are readily available, we can show the love of Christ to them through adoption.

3) Don’t you sacrifice for what you love?

I loved a motorcycle once. I set my heart upon having the baddest chopper around so I sold my ‘89 Harley Sportster, my van, and maxed out three credit cards in having a custom, one-of-a-kind, hardtail scooter put together.

I suffered.

It took me nearly a decade to pay off my debts. For years, I lived paycheck to paycheck as I desperately sought to buy down this mountain of debt. But I loved that motorcycle…until I sold it from lack of use.

For those we love, we sacrifice. Right?

It’s crap.

I’ll go ahead and answer the question for you. None of this is even necessary.

Our will, not our wealth.

It’s not about wealth.

If God has called the believer to adopt—spoiler alert: He has—then He will provide the means for them to walk that path.

Our money does not buy us a child. It buys us a choice.

Most people approach adoption with trepidation, including yours truly. We know it’s right. At some point, we know it’s prescribed, that the presence of children without homes is a shame upon the Church and so we cautiously move to adoption.

How do I maintain the fragility of my existence? How do I preserve my quality of life and the delicate balance of my family?

How do I simultaneously pursue that which will definitely change my life, without it changing my life too much?

We’ll take a healthy, baby boy— black is preferable, but brown will work too. He can have some physical limitations, but not too many. We’d also take a healthy girl between the ages of 5 and 7. I don’t want to upset the birth order or force anyone to share a room.

My cash buys me a choice.

It’s not about wealth, it’s about the will.

The idea of expensive adoptions ignores the existence of thousands of foster kids in desperate need of a home, many available for adoption immediately, practically for free.

My hats off to anyone who fosters or adopts. Anyone. I pray the Lord’s hand of blessing upon you all.

If God calls you to adopt from a foreign country, then go, by all means. I praise God for your obedience in surrendering to this call. I thank Him for those willing and able to spend $40,000 to find a child in a faraway country and raise them as their own. Glory, hallelujah.

I seek to address those for whom cost is a limitation, an excuse really.

Maybe you cannot afford that adorable little Chinese girl or those twin boys from Uganda. Right next door, here in your city, there are literally hundreds of kids dying without a father, dying without a family. Did you know this?

They lack the wow factor. They won’t generate ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’. They won’t fit into the neat reality of your existence.

They will shatter your boundaries, destroy your barriers. They will force you far past comfort and into the realms of the unreasonable…and they won’t cost you a dime, relatively speaking.

If cost is the issue, is it really about the kid, or is it about us? The tragedy of expensive adoptions is that it reveals the hearts of men.

Leave it to American Christians to bastardize such a God-ordained institution as adoption. Let us repent for this grave oversight.


  1. April

    I don’t own. Boat or multiple cars but would love to adopt but when you look at 40,000 to privately adopt, knowing maybe another couple will offer the mom a car that’s when it gets dirty. I can’t afford to adopt or else I would

    • Bradford Smith

      Ma’am, there are literally thousands of kids available for nearly free through the foster system.

  2. Jeff Waites

    Best $40,000 I ever spent for my 5 adopted kids from Colombia. Thankful I listened to God.


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Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).


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This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen


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