International Versus Domestic Adoption

international-versus-domestic-adoptionWhen you first make the decision to adopt, you will likely think the process is easy. However, digging a little deeper you will find that not only are the costs, emotionally and financially, astronomical – but there are several different routes that you can take.

Of course, cost is a concern. Initially you might think that an international adoption is cheaper than a domestic one. Sadly, this isn’t normally true. Adoption costs can involve a whole set of circumstances that prospective parents may not be prepared for including travel to foreign countries and paperwork that has expensive filing fees. Before you decide to do either domestic or international adoption, you should cost compare with reputable agencies. If you are adopting domestically from a pregnant woman, then chances are that you will be responsible for a great deal of the health costs associated with pregnancy and childbirth. In other words – both types of adoption are financially taxing. The average cost for adoption, whether internationally or domestically, ranges between $15,000 and $25,000 as a mean. Some are higher, while other services may be lower. These fees don’t normally include all the extras that are written into the contracts.

Waiting times are also different for international and domestic adoption. Largely, the time you will wait before having a child placed with you for adoption depends on the parameters that you set up. For instance, if you are only open for a specific age or race of a child, your wait time could be long – even years. International adoptions are time consuming because the filing of paperwork can be extensive, expensive, and take a while to work through the governments of countries other than the United States.

For many people, the deciding factor on whether to adopt domestically or internationally depends on availability of children. The heart breaking truth is that there are millions of children in need of adoptive parents. As of the Census in 2000, there were over 1.5 million children ready to be adopted in the United States alone. The numbers for international children are expected to be even higher; however, exact numbers are not available. Many foreign countries will not allow US citizens to adopt infants or newborns and require that they only adopt older children. You should contact the National Council for Adoption for a comprehensive listing of all the types of adoption available to you and what to expect from each.

One of the major differences between domestic and international adoption is the availability of health and welfare information. In the United States, you are privy to adopting a child who has been taken care of by physicians. They may have been abused in some way; however, the federal government mandates healthcare for children that are wardens of the state. Adoptive parents are also allowed to review information about family history which rounds out a child’s social and medical history. In international adoptions, you often have no idea about the parent’s health, the reasons the child is up for adoption, or the exact state of health that the child is experiencing. Many are under nourished and lacking vaccinations or the constant record of well checks that US children have.

One misconception about international and domestic adoptions is that international adoptions are ‘safer’ for the adoptive parents. They never have to worry about the birth parents coming back and regaining some sort of rights to the child that they gave up. In a domestic adoption, you do run a higher risk of having some involvement with the birth parents, especially if the adoption is open. However, you have legal rights that will be assessed at the time of adoption. International adoptions as well have some legal ramifications that can be confusing to people living in the United States and are not without complications. As a safeguard, you should choose the people you work with carefully and upon careful review. An adoption attorney should be well versed in the legal aspects of both domestic and international adoption.


Regardless of which you decide, the process of adopting a child is not simple. If you have your research together, weigh your options, and even plan on taking trips to other countries to see firsthand children that live elsewhere – you will be able to make an informed decision that you and your spouse will feel good about. Partly, you have to remain faithful and positive with the hopeful anticipation that the ‘perfect’ child for you will make their way into your life. It may not be exactly as you have planned, but perfect nonetheless!

What do you think?

International Versus Domestic Adoption

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  1. My husband I are planning to adopt older children maybe even siblings.

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