International adoption offers many advantages and a few disadvantages. While you are pondering whether or not international adoption is the right way to build your family, consider the following. (Keep in mind that perceived advantages and disadvantages are in the mind of the beholder!)
There are lots of children – both boys and girls, infants and older kids, healthy and special needs children – available for adoption from a wide array of countries.
Once you have an approved homestudy, you are practically guaranteed a child. In international adoptions, parents and children are matched by either your adoption agency, the country’s adoption committee, or during an in-country visit.
You know about how long it will be before you have your child in your arms. The average time frame is 12 –18 months. Of course, this is just an average. Much depends on the country you choose and any preference you may have expressed regarding the child’s age and gender.
The birthmother will not change her mind. The children available for international adoption must be orphans (as specified in an astoundingly complex legal definition). Once you accept the referral of a child, you will almost certainly become the parent of that child.
You know (more or less) what the costs will be before you ever begin the process. While the costs of international adoptions can vary markedly, your adoption agency should give you a printed schedule of all the fees before you begin the process.
You will (probably) have to travel to another country and learn about another culture. This can be viewed as either an advantage or a disadvantage (see below). If you are going to give your child a sense of his cultural identity, what better way than by experiencing his birth country firsthand?
You will (probably) have to travel to another country. This can be viewed as either an advantage or a disadvantage (see above). Busy people sometimes consider the travel requirement a disadvantage, especially if you are required to make more than one trip or stay for weeks at a time. But not all countries require travel, and many countries that do require travel ask you to stay only about one week.
You will not get a newborn infant. The infants available through international adoption are under a year old. Depending on the country you choose, some children may be as young as three or four months.
The child’s background and family medical history may be unknown. Although you will get your child’s medical history when you receive your referral, you may not know anything about the health of the birthmother or birthfather. If not knowing your child’s family medical history makes you uncomfortable, however, you can turn to modern genetic testing to fill in many of the blanks.
If the child was in an orphanage, he may experience developmental delays and other problems related to institutionalization. Not all children who spend time in an orphanage are developmentally delayed. Children who do experience delays as a result of institutionalization usually rebound to the norm very quickly once they have a supportive, loving family to attend to their individual needs.
The child’s birthmother may have received poor (or no) prenatal care. This depends on the health care system of the country – some nations provide medical care to all their citizens, while in other nations almost no one receives preventive health care.
It is unlikely that the child will be able to trace her birthparents. This may or may not be true – it all depends on the record keeping of the nation from which you adopt, attitudes in that country, and the record-keeping of the adoption agency you work with.
There is a lot of paperwork required. Yes, the paperwork can seem endless at times. However, international adoption agencies, along with the social worker who completes your homestudy, will assist you with filling out all those forms. And the paperwork isn’t difficult, just tedious.
Credits: Excerpted from "International Adoption Guidebook," Mary M. Strickert, (c) 2004