Adoption FAQ

Here are some freqently-asked questions about the adoption process. Simply click on the adoption question to read its answer.A young woman holding a card with a question mark.

Are international adoptions more difficult than domestic U.S. adoptions?

You will find there are difficulties and blessings in both international and domestic adoptions.  There are many differences between these two types of adoptions regarding the paperwork, time frame, and expectations. Expenses can be more in an international adoption due to
travel and longer stays in some countries.

The most important step you can take to help avoid difficulties is to do your research in advance.  Speak to adoptive families who have adopted from the country you’re considering. Learn about the customs, buy a book about the country, join online support groups for this specific country, and purchase a dictionary with terms in the native language of the country. The most important aspect is to work with a reputable organization with experience and success in your chosen country.

How are international adoptions funded?

There is going to be a cost associated with any type of adoption. Travel, home studies, country fees, and agency costs that allow children to be cleared for adoption are all part of the process.

“Many people think adoptions should be free, and we all wish they were. As an adoptive mother, I understand, and as an adoption professional with the knowledge of the amount of behind the scenes work that must be done to make an adoption complete, I know it can’t be done without staff in both countries working to make this happen,” notes adoption expert Mardie Caldwell.

The good news is that with a little bit of work, you can utilize the Adoption Tax Credit that has been a great benefit in making adoption affordable. After finalizing your child’s adoption, you might be able to take advantage of this adoption tax credit for qualifying adoption-related expenses. To learn more be sure to consult with a qualified tax expert or CPA about claiming the Adoption Tax Credit for any adoption. To learn more about the tax credit please follow this link.

Be honest with yourself about your finances and funding sources ahead of time. Where are you going to obtain funds? What adoption grants or subsidies can you obtain? What can you qualify for? Find out about adoption loans from outside lenders or within your own family. Can you fund your adoption through your own efforts? This is the very best option. There are sites you can learn more about financing your adoption and qualifying for adoption grants.

What are some of the difficulties we can expect in an international adoption?

Some difficulties in international adoption might be language barriers, travel, and seeing extreme poverty. For some people, the traveling to a foreign country and having to stay for a few weeks or longer can be very stressful. 

International adoptions tend to be more expensive than domestic adoptions, and families often report feeling as though they are “nickeled and dimed”, especially once in the foreign country.  Often there is more red tape, requiring an extra dose of patience, although patience is something required in most any adoption.

“What helped me in my adoption was the vision of my child at the end. This will get you through most difficulties. Surrounding yourself with others that support your adoption helps as well, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it!” advises adoption expert Mardie Caldwell.

The length of time it takes to adopt, that is from the day you start to the day you bring your child home, will vary from country to country and often there are situations that arise that can delay your plans, such as war, political instability, or natural disasters.

To avoid fraud, use only reputable agencies, attorneys, and facilitators that are licensed and have a proven track record in the country you are seeking to adopt in.

The key is to never give up, get your paperwork turned in, and do your research in advance.  

If you are interested in adopting an infant only, the time frame may be longer. This will depend on the country and their requirements.  It is important to work hard with your chosen agency, and to avoid procrastinating in getting your needed documents back as they are requested. You cannot drag your feet and be successful.

For example, one adoptive couple had been waiting to adopt from China for 24 months. They were told to expect another 24 month period until they received a referral. They were hoping to pursue domestic adoption in the meantime, providing it wouldn’t jeopardize their China adoption. They successfully adopted here in the U.S. within 18 months, and are still waiting for their China referral.

What are the major differences in domestic and international adoption?

In a domestic adoption, there is a greater chance of obtaining accurate medical and social information about your child; this is not always the case in an international adoption. Whenever possible, adoption agencies, parents and anyone else involved in your adoption should gather any and all available details you can from your child’s orphanage, foster parents, and their region and country. This will benefit both you and your child in their future.

Many people adopting internationally do so because they are fearful of birth parents. They’re only interested in a closed adoption because they believe that birth parents would come back and reclaim their child. If this is your only reason for pursuing international adoption, get feedback from someone who has adopted within the last 10 years. You’ll find that most international adoptions don’t offer the additional information you might have in a domestic adoption or ongoing contact with relatives. To some parents, this is not a concern and they are willing to adopt regardless of the background of the child.

Just be aware of what you can and can’t handle in the way of medical issues that might come to light as your child grows.

Where do most international adoptees come from?

Asia leads in international adoptions: China, Korea, Vietnam and India. Visit this site for updated information about international adoptions and various countries.

Often as adults we forget what is seen through the eyes of a child entering a foreign country. Consider a child entering the US or Canada. They may have been used to only one type of weather, few variations for food, very different sleeping arrangements, and customs. Remember that the child you are going to adopt from another country may have never seen a tall blond person, ice cubes, or a raised bed.

Which country is best to consider since we want to adopt a daughter?

For family interested in only girls, India and China are excellent choices. Many other countries have restrictions. To determine which country is best for you, contact different agencies via their websites and through referrals by other adoptive parents. Always check the background of each organization and their reputation in a particular country. Some agencies specialize in one to three countries and have strong relationships with the country contacts. This can help you or hurt you, depending on the reputation of the agency. Do your homework.

Some domestic adoption professionals allow the adoptive couple to select their child’s gender. So don’t think you must go overseas to adopt your little girl. For instance, Lifetime Adoption Center currently allows gender selection.

Why don’t countries have photos of their children posted on Internet?

Most countries do not allow child’s photos to be posted on Internet.  Often the agency handling adoption for the country will obtain photographs or videos of the children once you are in their program. To avoid the abduction, sale of or trafficking in children, and to ensure that all intercountry adoptions are in the best interests of children you want to only work with a reputable agency .