Do You Need a Good Credit Score to Adopt a Child?

girl in yellow dress hugging leg

Your financial situation is one of many factors adoption agencies consider when you apply to adopt a child. But what are they looking for, exactly? Do you need a certain income, amount of savings or credit score to become an adoptive parent? Adoption agencies won't necessarily check your credit before you adopt a child, but they will want to see that you can manage your money. Read on to find out what adoption agencies look for when reviewing your finances.

How Does Your Credit Affect Adopting a Child?

Before approving you as a suitable adoptive parent, both private and public adoption agencies will want evidence that you have the financial resources to provide for a child. While you don't have to be wealthy, you do need to demonstrate a stable income and the ability to manage money. Generally, agencies require your income to at least be more than the federal poverty level.

The agency will conduct a home study to assess your suitability as a parent. You'll typically be asked for pay stubs, W-2 forms or income tax returns to verify your income. The agency may also review your monthly expenses or bank statements, and may ask about life and health insurance; your savings and investments; and your debts.

Some adoption agencies may check your credit score as part of the home study, but federal law does not require it. Even if the agency doesn't check your credit, however, your credit score could be a factor if you plan to apply for a loan to help pay for the cost of adoption.

What Are the Costs of Adopting a Child?

The cost of adoption can vary widely, depending on what type of adoption you're considering. Adopting a child from the foster care system may be free or cost a few thousand dollars at most, because the government typically covers the costs. At the other end of the cost spectrum, international adoptions can cost as much as $60,000.

To budget for adoption expenses, consider your financial resources and your options. If you don't have enough savings to pay the costs, other sources of financial assistance include:

  • Your employer: Some employers offer financial assistance with adoption costs. Active-duty members of the military can receive up to $2,000 per child in reimbursement.
  • Grants: A wide variety of organizations offer grants to help parents adopt. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a list of grants and other resources.
  • Loans: You can get a personal loan, home equity loan or home equity line of credit to cover the one-time costs of adoption. Having good credit can make it easier to qualify for these loans and get better loan terms. Only borrow money to adopt a child if you're confident you can pay it back—it's best to avoid starting off your journey as a parent with burdensome debt.
  • Tax credits: Adoptive parents can receive a federal tax credit of up to $14,440 per child for the year in which the adoption is finalized. This tax credit is nonrefundable, however, which can limit its helpfulness.
  • Friends and family: Donations or loans from friends, family, your house of worship or other organizations you belong to could help you cover adoption costs.

You can also lower the cost of adoption by working with a sliding scale adoption agency that adjusts its fees based on your income.

If paying for a private adoption would be a major financial stretch, think about adopting a child in foster care instead. While these children are typically not infants, you'll have plenty of financial and other resources to lean on as you adapt to parenthood. Most states offer training for adoptive parents, as well as subsidies that assist with medical coverage, payment for adoption costs and a monthly stipend for the child's living expenses.

How to Improve Your Finances to Prepare for Adopting a Child

It costs nearly $15,000 a year to raise a child, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, so even if your credit isn't a factor in adoption, financial stability is. Prepare for the new addition to your family member by reviewing your budget. Add up your current monthly income and expenses. Then list the new expenses involved with adoption, from one-time costs such as agency fees to ongoing expenses such as diapers, clothing and child care.

Remember, your income may change temporarily while you take time off from work to adjust to parenthood. Check with your employer and review state laws regarding family and medical leave to see if you're entitled to any paid leave. If you or your partner plan to be a full-time stay-at-home parent, your income will change permanently.

For those new to budgeting, the 50/30/20 method is a simple way to start. This approach allocates 50% of your net income to necessities, 30% to discretionary spending and 20% to savings. You can also budget using multiple bank accounts—for example, one checking account for necessities, one for discretionary spending and a savings account for your emergency fund. Experienced, detail-oriented budgeters may want to try zero-based budgeting. This method accounts for every single dollar to ensure you have a plan for your income and spending.

Creating a budget and reducing your expenses can help you pay down high-interest debt, leaving more money for child-related expenses. Paying off high-interest debt with a debt consolidation loan could save you money on interest; making the loan payments on time can even help improve your credit score. If you have good credit, you may qualify for a balance transfer credit card to help you pay down credit card debt. Make sure to pay off the new card's balance before it starts accruing interest and avoid racking up debt again.

Your credit score may not affect your ability to adopt a child, but good credit can make it easier to achieve other goals for your growing family, such as buying a home. As you embark on parenthood, check your credit report and credit score to make sure your family finances are off to a good start.

How Good Is Your Credit Score?

300 credit score301 credit score302 credit score303 credit score304 credit score305 credit score306 credit score307 credit score308 credit score309 credit score310 credit score311 credit score312 credit score313 credit score314 credit score315 credit score316 credit score317 credit score318 credit score319 credit score320 credit score321 credit score322 credit score323 credit score324 credit score325 credit score326 credit score327 credit score328 credit score329 credit score330 credit score331 credit score332 credit score333 credit score334 credit score335 credit score336 credit score337 credit score338 credit score339 credit score340 credit score341 credit score342 credit score343 credit score344 credit score345 credit score346 credit score347 credit score348 credit score349 credit score350 credit score351 credit score352 credit score353 credit score354 credit score355 credit score356 credit score357 credit score358 credit score359 credit score360 credit score361 credit score362 credit score363 credit score364 credit score365 credit score366 credit score367 credit score368 credit score369 credit score370 credit score371 credit score372 credit score373 credit score374 credit score375 credit score376 credit score377 credit score378 credit score379 credit score380 credit score381 credit score382 credit score383 credit score384 credit score385 credit score386 credit score387 credit score388 credit score389 credit score390 credit score391 credit score392 credit score393 credit score394 credit score395 credit score396 credit score397 credit score398 credit score399 credit score400 credit score401 credit score402 credit score403 credit score404 credit score405 credit score406 credit score407 credit score408 credit score409 credit score410 credit score411 credit score412 credit score413 credit score414 credit score415 credit score416 credit score417 credit score418 credit score419 credit score420 credit score421 credit score422 credit score423 credit score424 credit score425 credit score426 credit score427 credit score428 credit score429 credit score430 credit score431 credit score432 credit score433 credit score434 credit score435 credit score436 credit score437 credit score438 credit score439 credit score440 credit score441 credit score442 credit score443 credit score444 credit score445 credit score446 credit score447 credit score448 credit score449 credit score450 credit score451 credit score452 credit score453 credit score454 credit score455 credit score456 credit score457 credit score458 credit score459 credit score460 credit score461 credit score462 credit score463 credit score464 credit score465 credit score466 credit score467 credit score468 credit score469 credit score470 credit score471 credit score472 credit score473 credit score474 credit score475 credit score476 credit score477 credit score478 credit score479 credit score480 credit score481 credit score482 credit score483 credit score484 credit score485 credit score486 credit score487 credit score488 credit score489 credit score490 credit score491 credit score492 credit score493 credit score494 credit score495 credit score496 credit score497 credit score498 credit score499 credit score500 credit score501 credit score502 credit score503 credit score504 credit score505 credit score506 credit score507 credit score508 credit score509 credit score510 credit score511 credit score512 credit score513 credit score514 credit score515 credit score516 credit score517 credit score518 credit score519 credit score520 credit score521 credit score522 credit score523 credit score524 credit score525 credit score526 credit score527 credit score528 credit score529 credit score530 credit score531 credit score532 credit score533 credit score534 credit score535 credit score536 credit score537 credit score538 credit score539 credit score540 credit score541 credit score542 credit score543 credit score544 credit score545 credit score546 credit score547 credit score548 credit score549 credit score550 credit score551 credit score552 credit score553 credit score554 credit score555 credit score556 credit score557 credit score558 credit score559 credit score560 credit score561 credit score562 credit score563 credit score564 credit score565 credit score566 credit score567 credit score568 credit score569 credit score570 credit score571 credit score572 credit score573 credit score574 credit score575 credit score576 credit score577 credit score578 credit score579 credit score

The purpose of this question submission tool is to provide general education on credit reporting. The Ask Experian team cannot respond to each question individually. However, if your question is of interest to a wide audience of consumers, the Experian team may include it in a future post and may also share responses in its social media outreach. If you have a question, others likely have the same question, too. By sharing your questions and our answers, we can help others as well.

Personal credit report disputes cannot be submitted through Ask Experian. To dispute information in your personal credit report, simply follow the instructions provided with it. Your personal credit report includes appropriate contact information including a website address, toll-free telephone number and mailing address.

To submit a dispute online visit Experian's Dispute Center. If you have a current copy of your personal credit report, simply enter the report number where indicated, and follow the instructions provided. If you do not have a current personal report, Experian will provide a free copy when you submit the information requested. Additionally, you may obtain a free copy of your report once a week through December 31, 2022 at AnnualCreditReport.