Some parents are drawn to adopt internationally.
Perhaps they have experience in a foreign country and feel comfortable adopting from that culture. In my own experience, we adopted our first child here through a private adoption. Then we had a surprise biological child and went on to adopt two more from South Korea, where my husband had visited while serving in the military.
International child adoption has other aspects to recommend it:
- The waiting time for placement of a child is often shorter, sometimes within one year;
- There is little to no chance that birthparents will change their minds about the placement
However, international child adoption poses its own challenges and concerns to an adoptive parent.
- In an international child adoption the birthparents do not make the decision on which family should adopt their child, like they might in a domestic adoption. Instead, it is the prerogative of the government where the child was born to make all decisions regarding international adoption of children from their country. This means that you have to determine which countries offer programs that you qualify for, and then which of those programs allow the adoption of the age/health status of children that meet your preferences.
- In a number of countries, there are limits on who qualifies as adoptive parents such as:
- Minimum age of applicant
- Maximum age of applicant
- Minimum and maximum difference in ages between parents and child
- Marriage status and history
- Number of other children in the home
- Income level, ability to provide for child
- Medical and psychiatric history and current evaluation
Requirements for adoptive parents will change as programs grow or if problems arise in a country with international adoptions. That is why it is important to check the status of your prospective country.
The State Department is working to provide information on adoptive parent requirements for each country on their website at http://adoption.state.gov/countryinformation.html.
Once you have chosen a country, it is imperative that you work with an agency authorized to do international child adoption. If you choose a Hague Convention country, you must work with an agency that has been accredited by the State Department – the list is available on the State Department website at http://adoption.state.gov/. If you choose a non-convention country, you will need to ask a potential agency for proof of their accreditation in that specific country.
It is not recommended by the State Department that you attempt an independent international child adoption without an agency or without counsel. Many parents have traveled to, for instance, Guatemala or the Ukraine to try to negotiate an adoption privately. The results can be disastrous. There are simply too many requirements that could cause a hiccup for the adoption process for someone who doesn’t already have the established contacts or knowledge of how the country’s adoption process works.
For fiscal year 2014, there were 6,441 international adoptions completed. (See http://travel.state.gov/content/dam/aa/pdfs/fy2014_annual_report.pdf) Countries with the greatest numbers of children adopted were:
SOMEONE is adopting these children. Why not you?