Intercountry Adoption: Where Do I Start?
Series: Factsheets for Families|
Child Welfare Information Gateway |
|Year Published: 2009|
Deciding What Country Your Child Will Come From
What You Should Know
Countries from which children are most frequently adopted internationally (also called "sending countries") include developing nations in Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, and Central and South America. Each country has different intercountry adoption rules. Parents often find it helpful to compare adoption programs in several countries before making a final decision.
Here are some things to think about when selecting a country:
- Hague Convention participation. Requirements differ when you adopt from a country that has joined the Hague Convention versus a non-Convention country. As of September 2008, more than 75 countries were Convention members (see box, page 2). Find a list of Convention countries on the State Department website at: http://adoption.state.gov/hague_convention/countries.php.
- Eligibility requirements for adoptive parents. In addition to U.S. immigration rules, each country may have its own requirements for prospective adoptive parents based on such characteristics as age, marital status, sexual orientation, and others. Each State also has its own requirements.
- Ages of available children. The ages of children needing adoptive families vary widely, from 3 or 4 months to 16 years, depending on the country. The Convention and laws in some sending countries require that efforts be made to place infants with families in that country before they can be placed with a family overseas. In those countries, infants younger than 4 or 5 months old may not be available for intercountry adoption. Some countries have regulations prohibiting the separation of siblings.
- Ethnicity/Race/Culture. Depending on the country you select, your child's ethnic, racial, and cultural background might be different from your own. Resources for transracial or transcultural families are available on the Information Gateway website: www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/types/families/trans_info.cfm.
- Child's placement setting: Institution or foster care. In many sending countries, children who need permanent families are cared for in institutions or orphanages. Children who spend early months or years in institutions typically show delays in growth and development. Some countries place children waiting for permanent families with foster families. Research suggests that foster families may offer the child better opportunities to form attachments with caregivers. However, many factors affect the quality of foster care overseas.
- Travel requirements. Most countries require prospective adoptive parents to travel to the country to complete the adoption process. The number of trips (generally one or two) and the required length of stay in the country vary. A few countries will allow the child to be escorted to the United States by someone other than an adoptive parent, but costs may not be significantly lower than for the family to travel. Even when not required, parents have found many benefits from traveling to the child's country of origin.
- Cost. Costs also vary widely depending on the country and service provider. They can range from $10,000 to $40,000 or more. See the Information Gateway publication Costs of Adopting: A Factsheet for Families for more information about costs for intercountry and other types of adoption: www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/s_cost/index.cfm
Talking with other adoptive parents about their experiences in different countries can help you with your decision. You can meet other parents through a support group for families who have adopted from certain countries or regions. Find a listing of adoptive family support groups in the National Foster Care and Adoption Directory, available on the Information Gateway website at www.childwelfare.gov/nfcad
Some Places to Go
The State Department website provides a country-by-country guide to the adoption process in many countries (http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/learn_about_a_country.php) and information about the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption (http://adoption.state.gov/content/pdf/PAP_Guide_1.pdf (PDF - 1.86 MB)).
Find information on the USCIS website about restrictions on adopting from areas experiencing political unrest or natural disasters by consulting How Do I Apply to Bring a Foreign-Born Orphan to the United States? (www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=5da2194d3e88d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD&vgnextchannel=173e8c03ef929110VgnVCM1000004718190aRCRD)
You can find a current list of the signatory countries of the Convention at http://adoption.state.gov/hague_convention/countries.php.
The Report on Intercountry Adoption contains an overview of costs, requirements for prospective adoptive parents, and other information for many countries. Ordering information is available on the Adoption Resource Center of Connecticut website: www.arcct.org/included.htm.
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