International Adoption (Encyclopedia)


International adoption, also called intercountry adoption, is the adoption of a child from a foreign country. International adoption was almost non-existent until the mid 1950s when Bertha and Harry Holt (founders of Holt International) opened the possibilities of international adoption, first in Korea, and then in other countries.

International adoption procedures differ significantly from those for domestic adoption. Hopeful adoptive parents must provide detailed information about almost every aspect of their lives, including family, financial, health, and others. They must comply with both U.S. law and the laws of the country from which they hope to adopt. Most countries require one or both parents to travel, some countries require two trips, and others require extended stays while bonding with the child is supervised and evaluated.

From almost no adoptions in the 1950s to around 7,000 adoptions in 1990, international adoptions have grown dramatically to over 22,000 adoptions in 2004. The countries from which Americans adopt most often internationally are China, Russia, Guatemala, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan (2004).