International vs. Domestic Adoptions

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When bringing a new child into your home through adoption, you can choose to look for a child within the United States—a domestic adoption—or you can adopt almost anywhere in the world—an international adoption. There are advantages and disadvantages to both processes.

The Financial Commitment

It’s a common misconception that an international adoption will always be more expensive than a domestic adoption. In an international adoption, one of the primary costs involves travel to the child’s country—some countries require multiple visits. However, in a domestic adoption, where you are adopting a newborn, you may agree to pay living and medical expenses for a number of months. Those types of expenses are generally unheard of in international adoptions. In addition, if you adopt a child from another state, you may have to stay in that state with the child until the court or agency in that state formally approves the adoption.
Most adoption professionals consider that costs of domestic and international adoptions to be comparable, generally falling somewhere between $25,000 and $50,000.

The Amount of Time Involved

With a domestic adoption, the amount of time can vary from a few months to years. Domestic adoptions are generally a matter of finding the right match. Prospective adoptive parents typically put together a family profile, which gets seen by prospective birth mothers. If a birth mother selects a family based on a profile, there will customarily still be some additional vetting process, often involving a meeting between adoptive and birth parents. Accordingly, most adoptive parents simply have to wait until someone chooses them.
The international adoption process varies from country to country. Most countries make some effort to examine the background of the prospective parents and intentionally match children with specific parents, but often it can be on a first-come, first-served, basis.

Availability of Information

One of the principal reasons many adoptive parents are willing to go through the domestic adoption process is that there is typically far more information, especially medical information, available in domestic adoptions. In many foreign adoptions, the child being adopted was simply abandoned at or near an orphanage, so there is no family information available.

Potential for Contact between Birth Parents and Adoptive Parents

For some adoptive parents, the fear that the child will try to reconnect with his or her birth parent makes an international adoption more attractive. With most international adoptions, the birth mother is either unknown or simply cannot be found.

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