International adoption is an increasingly popular method in the United States of building a family. Some prospective parents view adopting a child from abroad as a simpler process than a domestic adoption. This may be a bit of a misconception. Nevertheless, many couples who have become parents in this way have never regretted their decision.
While many reputable international adoption agencies provide an excellent service, international adoption fraud is a reality. If you're considering adopting abroad, you need to be well informed, and you should know the right questions to ask when you approach an agency for the first time.
Infertility is a major factor in the decision to adopt for many people. With increasing numbers of couples struggling to get pregnant, adoption may be something that more and more people are "obliged" to consider in the future. Adoption for such people is often a last resort, after a range of fertility treatments have failed. It's important that couples in this position think carefully about their current emotional and physical health before deciding to adopt. It might be better to wait a while and recover from the fertility treatment process.
Other couples adopt because they want to add a child to their existing family; because they want to help a child living in poor conditions abroad; or because a friend or relative has passed away and left an orphaned child or children behind.
In short, the reasons for adopting are as unique and individual as the people who decide to adopt.
Why Adopt Internationally?
Couples who decide to adopt children from a foreign country report a number of motives for their choice. Some believe that the process will be quick; others want to adopt a child of their own skin color and race, but don't want to wait until such a child becomes available in the United States; others believe that there are more very young children (under a year old) available abroad for adoption, and that these children's birth parents are extremely unlikely to try to become involved in the child's life at a later stage.
Once you have been approved for international adoption, the average waiting time to adopt a child is between 12 and 18 months. However, the process is subject to so many variables - immigration requirements, adoption laws in the child's country of origin, etc. - that couples are advised to realistic about the possibility of delays.
The great availability abroad of children all ages, races, etc. is such that once you have received approval, you are likely to be able to bring home a child who will fit in with your family within two years.
You are unlikely to be able to adopt a newborn baby, although many internationally adopted children are less than one year old.
You will have to travel and spend a significant amount of money (prices vary according to the agency you use and the country from which you adopt).
You can't adopt from any country you like (Western Europe, Canada and Australian children cannot be adopted by US citizens). However, there are currently 50 countries that operate international adoption agreements with the USA.
Depending on the circumstances in which your child began his or her life, he may suffer health or developmental problems. Many of these, however, can be overcome if the child goes on to be raised in a loving home.
Choosing An Agency
The internet is probably going to be your first port of call when searching for an international adoption agency. Make sure that you email or telephone these agencies with additional questions. Read brochures thoroughly, check credentials, ask questions in online forums related to international adoption, and seek advice from previous clients of any agency you are considering.
Remember, if an agency seems too good to be true then it probably is. There is no such thing as a totally stress free adoption - if this is what they are promising then you should probably go elsewhere.