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International Child Adoption

QUESTION: How does international child adoption differ from domestic adoption?


When a couple decides upon the adoption process, they will be asked many questions. Laws require full disclosure of all parties involved in the adoption to avoid wrongful adoptions. The home study seems like an endless torrent of questions, and if the couple chooses international child adoption, preparing the dossier continues the questioning. The potential couple or parent will have questions of his or her own, as well. They’ll want to know about the child’s health, emotional and development histories to enable the child to have the most productive future. Then there are the questions to be asked when selecting an agency or attorney.

International child adoptions can be the most difficult since so many children in orphanages were abandoned with no family history. However, couples can learn about the child’s current medical condition and situation. Many countries provide videos of the children in action and written reports that can be evaluated by specialists in the field of international child adoption medicine. Plus, the adoptive parent or parents can ask questions of the caregivers during their visit to the orphanage.

When considering international child adoption, the emotional and physical health of available children is a great concern. Conditions and level of care provided in institutions vary within other countries. Health problems of some children range from treatable (if diagnosed early) to more serious conditions requiring extended or lifetime treatment. The adoption agency will be able to provide information about the institutions the agency works with and any known medical issues that are indigenous to that country.

By 2003, there were over 20,000 international child adoptions by U.S. residents. This has opened up a specialized field of medicine specifically for international child adoptions. These physicians can wade through the language barriers and the different ways the doctors from other countries diagnose and treat diseases. Physicians with experience in international child adoption can evaluate the pre-adoption assessment of medical reports and video or photographs of the child. These doctors can also evaluate the child after placement to ensure that nothing has been overlooked.

The benefits of domestic adoption are that it has more predictable costs than all the travel and medical expenses of international child adoption. If international bureaucracy is delayed, the adoptive parents costs can increase dramatically, creating more trips abroad and time away from work. Domestic adoption allows parents to adopt an infant, where in international adoptions, parents rarely are allowed to adopt a child younger than six to eighteen months old. Many adoptive parents want to bond with a child as an infant instead of adopting an older child.

Another wonderful option for learning about international children is to participate in a child sponsorship program such as Compassion International. While there are many children for adoption throughout the world, there are numerous others that simply need our love and financial support right where they are.

Learn More About Adoption!

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