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Adoption Costs

Foster dad and daughter on a boat with their dog

In Ohio, the cost of adopting a child can vary greatly depending on the type of adoption and the type of agency you choose. Adopting a child from foster care is usually fairly inexpensive. Most costs are minimal and related to the homestudy – for example, medical forms, background checks and fire inspections – and many agencies cover those costs to save families the expense.

Private agencies and attorneys can help with many different types of adoption, though some specialize in infant or international adoption, which can range from $10,000 to $50,000. Having a private adoption agency complete your homestudy to adopt a child in the custody of a public children services agency (PCSA) is significantly less expensive. Some private agencies do not charge families for homestudies when the family is adopting a child from the child welfare system. 

To make adopting children with special needs and older children more affordable, several types of subsidies are available. Your adoption assessor can provide more information regarding eligibility and how to apply.

Title IV-E Adoption Assistance

Many of the children in foster care who are available for adoption are eligible for Title IV-E Adoption Assistance. This federal subsidy provides financial assistance to families based on the child’s special needs at the time of the adoptive placement. The benefits may include a monthly payment and/or Medicaid card. For the child to be eligible, he or she must meet the definition of special needs and one of several other strict criteria, each of which has varying requirements. Factors considered include such things as the age of the child and length of time the child has spent in foster care. A child must have previously been in the custody of a public or private children services agency or be eligible for Supplemental Security Income, in which case he or she is automatically eligible. Children adopted internationally are not eligible.

Adoption Assistance Connections (AAC) to Age 21

AAC provides financial assistance to eligible families who adopt children at ages 16 and 17 and then continue to support them as they transition to adulthood. Families may receive a monthly payment and/or Medicaid coverage, and that support may continue until the young adult reaches age 21, as long as other eligibility criteria are met. Unlike the other subsidies, which are administered by the counties, AAC is administered by the state. It was developed to help families who adopt older youth but are not eligible for continued Title IV-E Adoption Assistance when their child reaches age 18.

To be eligible, the young adults must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Have been in the permanent custody of an Ohio PCSA
  • Have been 16 or 17 when the Adoption Assistance Agreement was signed
  • Have finalized their adoption before they turned 18
  • Not be married
  • Not be in the military
  • Have adoptive parent(s) who are continuing their parental responsibility
  • Meet at least ONE of the following five requirements:
    • Completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential
    • Enrolled in an institution that provides post-secondary or vocational education
    • Participating in a program or activity designed to promote, or remove barriers to, employment
    • Employed for at least 80 hours a month
    • Incapable of doing any of the above activities due to a medical condition, as documented by a qualified practitioner

Nonrecurring Adoption Expenses Subsidy

Nonrecurring adoption expenses are one-time expenses directly related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs. This program provides payment or reimbursement for such expenses as attorney’s fees, court costs, transportation costs, and the reasonable costs of food and lodging. Payment or reimbursement also is available for costs associated with the adoption homestudy, such as health examinations and reasonable and necessary adoption fees. Family income is not taken into consideration.

State Adoption Maintenance Subsidy (SAMS)

SAMS is a financial assistance program funded entirely by the state. It provides monthly subsidies to families that adopt children with special needs who are ineligible for Title IV-E Adoption Assistance. Children who qualify also may be eligible for Medicaid coverage. To be eligible, the adoptive family’s gross income must not exceed 120 percent of the median income of a family of the same size. A child who is eligible to receive Title IV-E Adoption Assistance is not eligible to receive SAMS.

Post-Adoption Special Services Subsidy (PASSS)

PASSS funds may be available to families after adoptions are finalized. It is intended to pay for services not covered by other subsidy programs, insurance programs or Medicaid. Services covered can include such things as medical or psychological services, respite care and/or the maintenance costs of residential treatment programs that may be needed temporarily to stabilize a child in crisis. PASSS will not cover educational or recreational services, activities designed solely to improve self-esteem, or expenses incurred by stepparents adopting children.

To qualify for PASSS, the following criteria must be met:

  • The child must have a physical or developmental disability or mental or emotional condition.
  • The child’s disability or condition must have existed before the adoption was finalized or must have been caused by a pre-adoptive condition.
  • The child must be younger than 18 or, if the youth has a mental or physical disability, younger than 21.
  • The family must have explored other sources of assistance but found them to be inadequate or not available to meet the needs of the child.
  • The expenses must be beyond the economic resources of the adoptive family.
  • The child must not be in the custody of a public or private children services agency.
  • The family must live in Ohio.


Children who qualify for Title IV-E Adoption Assistance are automatically eligible for Medicaid benefits. Children who receive SAMS can receive Medicaid, but only if the county agency that had custody determines that the child has a disability that warrants coverage.

Tax Credits

Both Ohio and the federal government allow families who adopt to receive tax credits for the year in which the adoption was legalized.

The State Adoption Tax Credit is limited to a set amount per child. Any unused amounts can be carried forward for up to five years. For more information, talk to your tax professional, visit tax.ohio.gov or call the Ohio Department of Taxation at (800) 282-1780.

The Federal Adoption Tax Credit can be used for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child. Families have five years to use the entire credit. For more information, talk to your tax professional, visit irs.gov or call the IRS at (800) 829-1040.   

Additional Information