You feel called to the orphans of the world and think you’re prepared for what international adoption could bring. You sit with a world map and pray for direction. So now what? Choosing the right country to adopt from is not an easy task. The list of possibilities is surprisingly endless, and understanding the risks of each place can be scary. Each country has its own available children, rules and regulations, and adoption cost, so narrowing down your selection may depend mostly on those factors. International adoption is also ever changing. Popular countries like Russia have closed their doors to U.S. adoptions, while U.S. citizens currently can adopt only waiting children from China. Let’s help you narrow down those choices so you can get your kids home faster!
The Choices: Children
International adoption brings choices. So before choosing a country, you need to first think about what type of child or children you are willing to adopt. Ask yourself some tough questions, because if you don’t, your agency will.
Age will be one of the easier decisions. What age range are you willing to accept? If you’re looking for an infant, international adoption isn’t for you. It’s very rare to adopt a child under a year old. Instead of specific ages, you will be looking at age ranges, such as under 5 years old, 5 to 10 years old, or older child. Be prepared for communication and cultural barriers the older you go.
Boy or Girl
Do you care what sex the child is? If you’re adopting in hopes of getting the girl you always wanted, plan on waiting a little longer. Boys are more available. Not requesting a specific sex could speed up the process.
What race are you willing to accept as your own? Think of the child growing up in your community and family. Will you make sure he or she feels no different from the next child?
What disabilities will you be able to handle, and will your insurance cover an adopted child with pre-existing conditions? Children available for adoption but who have yet to be adopted, usually with some level of disability, are labeled as “waiting children.” You will be given a mile-long list of disabilities, from minor correctable to major, and you will have to check yes or no to each one. Very few children in orphanages are completely healthy. With that said, the health care they receive is limited. Sometimes these waiting kids can thrive in a loving home with proper health care!
Wait time will also narrow down your country search. How long are you willing to wait for the child you want? Each country has a time frame, but that could be longer depending on you! Requesting a healthy girl who’s as young as possible will drag out your wait time dramatically.
Once you have an idea of the child you’re looking for, you can narrow down your choice to a region of the world you may want to adopt from.
The Choices: Country
Moving forward with a specific region in mind, you can begin to research specific countries that may be safer to adopt from than others. The Hague Convention is an international agreement between countries to provide safeguards and establish international standards of practices for adoptions. This is key when looking at countries, because not all countries participate in the Hague Convention, but you can still adopt from many of the ones that don’t. The process may be similar and completely safe in non-participating countries, but you do want to protect yourself with a very good agency. Some Hague-participating countries to consider are Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Haiti, Philippines, and South Africa, and the list goes on. Ukraine, Ethiopia, and South Korea are some of the non-Hague countries, but many children have been adopted from there.
The U.S. Department of State website has in-depth information on international adoption, the Hague Convention, and Hague and non-Hague countries. Any country of your interest can be researched at the State Department’s website. When searching a country (for example, India), look at “Who Can Adopt.” There you will learn that when adopting from India, you must be a married couple of at least two years (though same-sex couples may not apply), be older than 25 but younger than 45 if adopting a child under 4 years old, and have fewer than four children currently in your home.
Each country has its own guidelines, some even having weight restrictions. You will also learn about travel time to and in the country. Some countries require one trip, some up to three trips. Or they may require time in country after the adoption for bonding.
Hopefully you will have narrowed your choices down to one country by this time. If you are still unsure, take to the internet, and search adoption stories and videos. There are so many wonderful stories out there to inspire you or pull your heart one way or another!
Samantha Morgan is a two-time adoptive mom and infertility survivor. Experienced in international and domestic adoption, Samantha loves sharing her motherhood story and experiences to help others find hope in their journey. Founder of Rush to Hope Ministries, she strives to build connections between people with similar paths so no one has to walk alone. You can read more from Samantha or get connected at RushtoHopeMinistries.com.