What Are the Most Popular Countries to Adopt From?

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When considering international adoption it can be hard to know where to begin. Different agencies offer different programs in different countries. While it may be tempting to choose a smaller country program, like Burundi, more popular country programs, like China, can offer better stability throughout the process and more accurate timelines. Here is a list of the top ten most popular countries, the requirements to adopt from those countries, and the types of children available for adoption.

  1. South Korea

At the top of the list of most popular countries is South Korea, a country with the longest history of international adoption. International adoptions first began in South Korea in 1955 and have been going strong since then. To adopt from South Korea, prospective adoptive parents must be married and between the ages of 25 and 44. If one of the prospective adoptive parents is of Korean descent, then the prospective adoptive parents may be between the ages of 25 and 49. Singles and same-sex couples are not permitted to adopt from South Korea. Prospective adoptive parents must be in good health and make at least $35,000 a year plus an additional $10,000 per each child currently in the home. The children available for adoption range in age from 10 months to 3 years old at referral and families must be open to either gender. Once a referral is received, two trips to South Korea are required to complete the adoption. The average timeline to adopt is between 26-30 months with a cost of $35,000-$50,000.

  1. China

Another program on the list of most popular countries with a long history of international adoption is China. Adoption from China is open to both heterosexual married couples and single women. Prospective adoptive parents must be between the ages of 30 and 55, and there can be no more than a 50-year age difference between the prospective adoptive parent and prospective adoptive child. No more than five children are permitted in the home, so larger families are ineligible. China has income requirements of $30,000 a year plus an additional $10,000 per each child currently in the home. Married couples must have a net worth of $80,000 and singles a net worth of $100,000. No major health issues are permitted, though as of June 2017, China relaxed its policies on well-controlled mental health conditions. The children available for adoption are between the ages of 7 months to 13 years at referral, and it is possible to choose which gender the family wishes to adopt. All children available for intercountry adoption have mild to significant special needs, though in some cases the special need is merely the child’s age. The timeline to adopt from China is between 24-26 months with a total cost of $35,000-$40,000.

  1. India

India is another country on the list of most popular countries to adopt from. Though Overseas Citizens of India and Non-Resident Indians were always permitted to adopt, beginning in 2006, non-NRI and non-OCI families were welcome to adopt from India. Both heterosexual couples and single men and women are welcome to adopt from India. Single women may adopt either boys or girls but single men are only permitted to adopt boys. Prospective adoptive parents must be between the ages of 25-55, and there must be no less than 25 years age difference between the prospective adoptive parent and prospective adoptive child. India does not allow families with more than five children currently in the home to adopt. All prospective adoptive parents must be healthy and in good financial standing. There are no other financial requirements outside those outlined by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Families may choose the gender of the child they wish to adopt and most children are between the ages of 6 months to 14 years old at referral. Most children available for intercountry adoption have mild/medically correctable to more severe special needs. OCIs and NRIs are permitted to adopt outside the special needs track but wait times for a referral are drastically longer. One trip to India is required, though, in certain states, such as Hyderabad, families are required to travel additionally for their court hearing. The average timeline to adopt from India 18-24 months with the total cost between $30,000-$42,000.

  1. Colombia

Families interested in adopting from Central America should consider adopting from Colombia. Both heterosexual and same-sex couples, as well as single men and women, are welcome to adopt from Colombia. Prospective adoptive parents must be between the ages of 25-55, and there can be no more than a 45-year age difference between the older prospective adoptive parent and prospective adoptive child. There is no restriction on family size and no set financial or health requirements, though prospective adoptive parents should be healthy and financial stable. The children available for adoption range from 3 months to 15 years old at the time of referral and sibling groups are common. There are a large number of school-age children available for adoption and for many age alone qualifies them as “special needs.” Colombia does have a heritage track through which prospective adoptive parents of Colombian descent may adopt young children with no known special needs. The average timeline to adopt from Colombia is 12-36 months, depending on a family’s openness to special needs adoption. The cost to adopt from Colombia is $30,000-$45,000.

  1. Haiti

Another country in the Western Hemisphere to consider is Haiti. Since the early 1990s, Haiti has allowed intercounty adoption by heterosexual married couples and single women. Prospective adoptive parents must be between the ages of 30 and 50 years old and couples must have been married for at least five years. Haiti does not allow families with more than four children currently in the home to adopt. Prospective adoptive parents must have an annual income of $30,000 and be in good physical and mental health. Children available for intercountry adoption are between the ages of 2-13 years old at referral. Most children are in good health but some special needs adoptions are possible. Two trips to Haiti are required to complete the adoption. During the first trip, families will spend time bonding with their child then appear before a judge and give consent for the adoption. The second trip will be to bring the child home. The average timeline to adopt from Haiti is 24-36 months with the total cost between $30,000-$45,000.

  1. Philippines

Since 1989, the Philippines have allowed intercountry adoptions. Heterosexual couples must have been married at least three years and single men and women are eligible to adopt as well. Singles adopting are only permitted to adopt children between the ages of 9-15 years old. All prospective adoptive parents must be at least 27 years old and have at least 16 years, but no more than 45 years, age difference between them and the prospective adoptive child. Families with more than three children in the home are only allowed to adopt a child 6 years of age or older. Families who have recently adopted or given birth must wait at least two years before beginning the process to adopt in the Philippines. The Philippines list an income requirement of $40,000 annually and all prospective adoptive parents must be in good health. All families must provide a reference letter verifying attendance at a religious or spiritual organization for at least five years. Children available for intercountry adoption are between the ages of 2-15 years old at referral and many have mild to more severe special needs. The overall timeline to adopt from the Philippines is three to four years, though families open to special needs adoption have a shorter timeline. The cost to adopt from the Philippines is $25,000-$35,000.

  1. Bulgaria

Situated between Turkey and Romania in Southeastern Europe, another country to consider is Bulgaria. Bulgaria welcomes heterosexual married couples and single women to adopt. Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than their prospective adoptive child and must be between the ages of 23 and 49 to adopt a child 5 years old or younger. Older prospective adoptive parents are welcome to adopt a child 5 years or older if the prospective adoptive parents are between the ages of 50 and 55 years old. There are no health or financial requirements and larger families are permitted to adopt. Children available for intercountry adoption are between the ages of 2-15 years old at referral and special needs adoptions, as well as sibling groups, are quite common. Wait times for a referral are between 2-12 months for special needs adoption and two to three years for healthy infants and toddlers. Two trips are required to adopt from Bulgaria. The average timeline to adopt from Bulgaria is between 24-36 months and the costs are between $30,000-$40,000.

  1. Ukraine

A former member of the Soviet Union, Ukraine is another one of the most popular countries to adopt from internationally. Prospective adoptive parents interested in adopting from Ukraine must be at least 21 years old and in a heterosexual marriage. Singles are permitted to adopt but only if they are directly related to the child. The prospective adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than their prospective adoptive child. Children available for adoption are typically between the ages of 7-15 years old with younger children available either as part of a sibling group or through special needs adoption. The average timeline to adopt from Ukraine is between 12-18 months. Two trips are required to complete the adoption and the overall cost is between $30,000-$35,000.

  1. Vietnam

Vietnam is another country with a long history of intercountry adoption. Beginning in the late 1980s, Vietnam opened to heterosexual married couples and singles. Prospective adoptive parents must be between the ages of 25 and 55 years old with no less than 20 years and no more than 50 years age difference between them and the prospective adoptive child. Couples must be married at least two years and no more than four children are permitted in the family. Larger families may be considered on a case-by-case basis, so interested families should consult with their agency. Families must have a minimum annual income of $30,000 and have no serious physical or mental health issues. Children available for intercountry adoption are between the ages of 20 months to 15 years old at the time of referral. Typically, the younger children available for intercountry adoption have minor to severe special needs. Sibling groups and/or children over the age of 5 are categorized as special needs. The average timeline to adopt from Vietnam is between 24-36 months and the costs are between $25,000-$35,000.

  1. Thailand

Last but not least, Thailand is another one of the most popular countries to adopt from. There are two tracks available for adoption from Thailand, the traditional track and the waiting child track. For the traditional track, prospective adoptive parents must have been married for three years and be a minimum of 25 years old. Prospective adoptive mothers may not be older than 40 and prospective adoptive fathers may not be older than 45. Same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt from Thailand though single women may be considered if they are open to adopting a child with special needs. Up to one child may reside in the home. Families are not permitted to request gender unless they already have a child in the home and wish to request the opposite gender. These requirements may be waived for families open to adopting a waiting child. Children available for intercountry adoption are typically between 2-3 years of age at placement. Older child adoption is possible and many children are classified as special needs due to their age.

The average timeline to adopt from Thailand is between 24-36 months and the costs are between $25,000-$35,000.

That said, there is a large world out there and not all the countries currently open for intercountry adoption are on this list. For a full list of every country, visit the U.S. Department of State’s website on intercountry adoption. Through the site, a search may be conducted of any country and that country’s current policies on intercountry adoption and the current requirements for prospective adoptive families. The website has other important elements such as current adoption notices, postings of changes in intercountry adoption policies, and statistics of past intercountry adoptions dating back to 1999.

 

Jennifer S. Jones is a writer, performer, storyteller, and arts educator. She holds an MFA (Playwriting) from NYU Tisch. She has written numerous plays including the internationally renowned, award-winning Appearance of Life. Her amazing transracial transcultural family was created through adoption from China and India. She is passionate about the adoption community and talks about the ins and outs, ups and downs, joys and “is this really us?!” whenever she can. She writes about her experiences at www.letterstojack.com.


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