An international adoption can be truly gratifying. You’re taking in a child to become your own, and you’ll love and cherish him or her. Before you can take steps to adopt, there are some things you’ll need to do, though. Planning ahead for the costs and legal requirements can help your adoption plans go smoothly, and in some cases, faster than if you didn’t prepare ahead of time.

You need to pass an adoptive parent requirement, for instance. This has two eligibility requirements including being at least 25 if you’re single and being a U.S. citizen. Married couples must only be made up of one U.S. citizen. You must also be a resident of the United States.

It’s likely that you’ll need to travel to the country where the child is to complete the adoption process. You may need to do this a few times, so plan for this in your expenses. The amount of time you’ll need to stay could vary, but since an adoption can take up to five years to complete, you should not have any trouble with using your passport over that time.

You will also need to pay adoption fees to adopt your child. These could pay for other children to be cared for, for travel or other expenses for the child you’re adopting. You’ll want to make sure the adoption agency is accredited, so you know you’re going to be assisted throughout the adoption process. The range of costs can be from $15,000 to over $45,000, so plan for this as you work toward adopting your child.

Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway, “Intercountry Adoption: Where Do I Start?,” accessed May. 26, 2015