How much does it cost to adopt a child in the UK?


cost breakdown


UK consumer

Adopting a child in the UK requires an extensive and costly process designed with child welfare as the absolute priority. As it should be. But what’s the bill to potential parents?

As with all family issues, financial security is the key to really taking responsibility. Looking after your own begins with your bank account! You need to be square from the off. Adopting a child in the UK is an expensive business in the short-term – as well as a truly giant cost in the long-term.

Be sure to investigate the figures and procedures personally; the overview we give below is deliberately broad in its scope to stress the possibility that the costs might well run away with you. Fees will change over time as agencies change their policies. Speak to an IFA about running a cashflow projection analysis on your own finances to see when adoption costs will most need to be supported in the future.

Totting up the cost of a tot

Whether you plan to adopt a child from the UK or another country, adoption costs begin as soon as you get registered with an agency. The time involved in finding a child and being vetted successfully is often measured in years.

The process involves a rule-of-thumb investment of at least £10k.

And, if you succeed with the adoption process, be aware that supporting a child until the age of 21 is known to cost upwards of £230K (The Guardian, 2016) (see Child care costs – UK below). The cost of raising a child is most expensive when the child is aged of 1 to 4 (The Guardian, 2017).

Two main types of UK adoption agencies

Adoption agencies are the chief intermediary between new parents and child. Agencies are of two types mainly: some form part of a local authority, and others are stand-alone voluntary adoption agencies. Agencies have the contacts with the orphanages, give you information, and walk you through the adoption process until hand over.

Once you’ve settled on an agency, their initial, critical role is to assess the eligibility of you and your partner to adopt. You will undergo an intensive course during which a social worker will determine your eligibility and submit their recommendation to an independent Adoption Panel. If you are successful, your agency will also teach you key skills as future parents. This can take up to six months, according to The Telegraph, and can cost between £4,000-£9,000 (First 4 Adoption), depending on the agency.

The Department of Education separately charges £885 to process your application and deliver you a Certificate of Eligibility (if you earn between £25,000 and £45,000). This rises to £1,775 if your income is over £45,000.

International adoption – what’s involved?

Adoption from another country can take much longer than adopting a child native to your country of origin. Costs can vary depending on where you are adopting, your provider, and are always subject to change. Be aware too that:

Children can only be adopted from abroad if:

  • It can be proven the child cannot be safely looked after in their current country of residence
  • Adoption is their best option
  • You must also visit the country in question at least once.

A complication of the procedure is that your application form will be sent to the country of the child’s origin, whereas your assessment will be sent to the overseas adoption authority.

Costs then breakdown as:

  • Facilitation – estimates that facilitation in your country of adoption can range from £1000 to £10,000. Intercountry adoption can range from £14,000 to £35,000 (Child Welfare, 2016).
  • Visa – for the child and stay in the UK is around £1,000
  • Court costs – around £2,000, all-in, since this could include two courts, and translations of numerous documents are likely if the country of origin does no have English as its state language.
  • Travel and accommodation – name your price! You could be visiting a country a number of times over the one to five years to complete an intercountry adoption (ChildWelfareGov).

The international adoption process often takes more than two years. So, while the costs can be spread out over that time, it represents a significant exercise in budgeting.

So it’s important to ask yourself: is your financial footing firm enough to look into adoption? And do you know enough about the adoption process to establish whether you can deal with it emotionally as well as financially? Be clear that only in the matter of budgeting does Holborn offer a perspective on adoption; for help in making a decision on whether to adopt at all, begin your research with First4Adoption – “the national information service for people interested in adopting a child in England.”

Child care costs – UK

The consensus amongst the latest surveys and estimates is that child care in the UK generally (as in other developed countries) is expensive, and getting more so. The Guardian cites a study from Centre for Economics and Business Research last year that found paying the way for a child up to the age of 21 years old topped £230,000 for the first time and the cost for parents raising a one-year-old has increased by 48% since 2008. This was up 4.3% on the previous year, and it’s now seven years since Liverpool Victoria found in their research that the £200,000 barrier – £9,610 per year – had been breached.

All figures assume the child went to a state school; private school can see the 2016 figure jump to more than £373,000 (The Guardian, 2016).

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