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Adoption Issues/Cost of adopting a child in 1981-82.


Hello there Mr.Winkler,

I was wondering if you could tell me what it would have cost to adopt a child back in 1981-82 in Sacramento, CA? My mother left my real dad six months after I was born in April of 79' and when I was about 2 years old, her then boyfriend/or husband adopted me and I had my last name changed to his.
         Thank you, sincerely Ken

Hi Ken-
There are not supposed to be any charges for placing a child for adoption.  For example a birthmother cannot legally charge for placing her child although it is generally allowable for her to be given funds for living expenses.  By the same token, an intermediary such as a lawyer or doctor, cannot legally charge for assisting in the placement.  Most states require adoption agencies to assist in the adoption, but in some cases independent or private adoptions are permitted.  Adoption laws are promulgated by each state, but states do not specify what an adoption should cost.  Since adoptions must go through the courts there are legal costs for representation by an attorney and an agency may charge for services.
While I can't tell you what expenses were involved in your adoption, it is very likely that your mother and step-father had to hire a lawyer in order to get your birthfather to sign a termination of his parental rights and to assist in bringing the case to court to have the adoption approved.  Prior to your adoption, your step-father probably went through the home study process to assess his suitability to adopt.  It is hard to estimate the total cost of these steps, but it probably totaled a few thousand dollars.  Depending on the circumstances, the costs involved in adopting can vary a great deal
I hope this this information is helpful to you.

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Peter C. Winkler, CSW


I have experience with adoption subsidy, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children and variety of other adoption related matters. I hope that I can be helpful to those who are considering adoption or would like to adopt a child.


I am a social worker with an MSW and I have over thirty years of experience in family and children's services. I have worked as Director of adoption services and of the Interstate Compact in a large state agency. I have also provided direct services to children and families in a preventive services program. I currently prepare adoption studies for those who are adopting domestically or internationally.

Masters in SW

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