Womens Health

International Adoption

In 2002, American families adopted over 20 000 international children. But what does the international adoption process involve? And what are the pros and cons compared to domestic adoption?

Reasons Why People Choose International Adoption

People choose international adoption because they want to give an underprivileged child a better life.

Also many individuals want to add diversity to their families, and so adding a child from a different ethnic or religious background enriches their lives.

What's Involved

When adopting a child from an overseas country, there are more factors to consider than in the domestic adoption process.

The first step is finding a reputable international adoption agency. Look for one with a long-standing track record; conduct your own research, ask friends and family for research and do your own reference checks on the agency itself as well on its owner. The rule of thumb is that you can never research an adoption agency enough. Consider which agencies best fit your needs and what country you're adopting from when making your decision.

Adopting a foreign-born child requires patience. Citizenship issues, legal adoption and revoking the rights of the birth parents are steps to this process, which can take several months.

Finances are another aspect to consider. Although international adoption can often be cheaper than domestic adoption because there are no high medical or legal bills, adoption costs vary widely and can soar up to $50 000. Expenses include the cost of travel. Plan ahead to avoid unnecessary stress.

Who Qualifies: Requirements Country to Country

Adoption laws vary according to the country from which a person wants to adopt. These laws can include criteria about age, income, marital stability, and the number of children a person already has; if a person is single, their gender is often taken into consideration

Certain nations have more specific requirements. For example, some Korean agencies require that adoptive parents are not more than 30% over the normal weight for their height. Thailand and Sri Lanka do not allow single parents to adopt. And China, the country from which Americans adopt most often, requires that adoptive parents be a minimum of 30 years old, a number recently reduced from 35 years of age.

Children are most commonly adopted from Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Children from Canada, Australia and Western Europe are not eligible for adoption by Americans due to complex legal restrictions.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Adopting a Foreign Child

Trans-racial adoption has many advantages. There is a great demand for adoption in overseas countries; also, after a home study is conducted, you are generally guaranteed a child. All foreign children are orphans by law so there is no worry that birth parents will change their mind about giving their child up for adoption. Adopting a child from another country is culturally enriching experience.

However, adoptive parents don't always have access to the child's medical or family history. In addition, travel is often required, which can be costly. Also, it is very rare that prospective parents will be able to adopt a newborn child.

Because foreign children up for adoption are generally older, barriers such as differences in language, greeting customs and displays of affection exist. Be aware of these differences, and respect them. Foster communication as best as possible.

If you're considering adopting a foreign child, don't give up. Use all resources that are available to you to learn as much about the process as you can. International adoption brings with it unique challenges, but these can make the process that much more rewarding.

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