10 Most Popular Countries To Adopt From And Their Adoption Policies

Are you hoping to adopt internationally?

Maya Brown-Zimmerman July 13, 2017

So you’ve decided you want to adopt internationally, but you’re not sure from which country. Check out our guide to 10 of the most popular countries to adopt from (2016 numbers provided by the State Department)! Note: Some of these countries currently have adoptions suspended.

China
1. China

Number of children adopted from the US in 2016: 2,231
Hague Convention Country? Yes

Age of children available to adopt: As old as 13, but right now China is only accepting referrals (matches) for children over the age of 5 or with special needs

Who can adopt?
-   Couples married at least 2 years, or at least 5 years if one has been divorced

-    Couples must be 30-50 years old; Over 50 with some restrictions

-    Single females can’t be older than 45 years old

-    No LGBTQ individuals or couples

-    No twice-divorced persons

-    Certain medical conditions impact a person’s ability to adopt

Foster care? Some children are in foster care, but most are in orphanages

Referral vs Placement Timeline: The wait for a referral can vary quite a bit depending on the level of special needs of the child. From the time China approves the referral acceptance, it’s 4-8 weeks until placement.

Travel Requirements: One visit, 4-5 weeks long, and only one parent is required to make the trip.
Read more about adopting from China here.

Democratic Republic of Congo
2. Democratic Republic of Congo

Number of children adopted from the US in 2016: 360
Hague Convention Country? No

Age of children available to adopt: No age limit

Who can adopt?
-   Couples married at least 5 years

-    Married, widowed, single, or divorced persons are all okay

-    No LGBTQ individuals or couples

-    Persons must be at least 18 years old and 15 years older than the child they wish to adopt

-    Hopeful adoptive parents may only have at most 2 children in home already, and may not adopt more than 3 children from the DRC

Suspension: The US State Dept. is asking adoption agencies to put a hold on allowing new families to apply to adopt in the DRC because the country has suspended issuing exit permits (meaning children are not allowed to leave the country once the other adoption steps are complete).

Learn more about adopting from the Democratic Republic of Congo here.

Ukraine
3. Ukraine

Number of children adopted from the US in 2016: 301

Hague Convention Country? No

Age of children available to adopt: Ages 5 and older, unless there the child has a special designation (special needs, or part of a sibling set)

Who can adopt?
-   Married couples

-    Persons must be at least 18 years old and 15 years older than the child they wish to adopt, unless the child is 18, in which case they must be at least 18 years older
Referral vs Placement Timeline: One agency reports that the entire adoption process takes 12 months from start to finish
Travel Requirements:
Typically 2-3 trips, 5-6 weeks total

Click here to learn more about adopting from the Ukraine.

South Korea
4. South Korea

Number of children adopted from the US in 2016: 260
Hague Convention Country? No

Age of children available to adopt: Unclear about a maximum age, but healthy children tend to get matched between 5-12 months of age, and come to the US around 2-3 years old.

Who can adopt?
-   Married couples only, married at least 3 years

-    Must be between the ages of 25-45, with no more than a 15 year age difference between them

-    Income must be higher than the US national average

-    Cannot have more than 5 kids, including the child to be adopted

Foster care? Yes

Referral vs Placement Timeline: Process tends to take 1-4 years from time of application to the child coming home to the US. On average the wait is 3 years for healthy infant adoptions and 1 year for special needs adoptions. One agency says referral comes 2-6 months after home study approval and then placement is 12-18 months later.

Travel Requirements: Two trips of 1 week each; both parents must come the first trip

Other: In order to decrease the number of children being adopted internationally, the country has instituted maximum yearly quotas for each agency. Children must also be waiting at least 5 months, in order to give domestic couples a chance to adopt first.

You can read more about adopting from South Korea here.

India
5. India

Number of children adopted from the US in 2016: 194
Hague Convention Country? Yes

Age of children available to adopt: If you’re not of Indian descent, you should plan on being open to a child who is at least 2 years old, with some needs. Non-Indian families are usually matched with older children with more significant needs, but not always.

Who can adopt?
-   Married couples or single individuals are ok

-    No same-sex couples

-    Age rules depend on the age of the child being adopted, but a person must be at least 25

-    Families must have no more than 3 children already

Referral vs Placement Timeline: 3-12 months for a referral, then once the referral is accepted, it’s another 7-15 months until placement

Travel Requirements: Usually only one parent has to travel (some agencies require parents reside with their child for 7 days before returning to the US). Time in India can be up to 14 days.

Learn more about adopting from India here.

Uganda
6. Uganda

Number of children adopted from the US in 2016: 187
Hague Convention Country? No

Travel Requirements: Both parents must foster their prospective child(ren) IN Uganda for at least 12 months. Beware of any agency that offers to use a surrogate to do the fostering, as this is illegal.

Learn more about Uganda adoption here.

Ethiopia
7. Ethiopia

Number of children adopted from the US in 2016: 182
Hague Convention Country? No

Age of children available to adopt: Under 18

Who can adopt?
-   Couples married at least 5 years, and sometimes single women

-    Individuals must be 25-65 years old, but sometimes no more than 40 years older than the child to be adopted

-    No LGBTQ individuals or couples

-    No set income requirement

Foster care? Children must be in an orphanage at least 3 months before being adopted

Travel Requirements: Typically two trips are necessary

Suspension: Ethiopian adoptions are currently suspended.

Ethiopia adoption details can be found here.

Haiti
9. Haiti

Number of children adopted from the US in 2016: 178
Hague Convention Country? Yes

Age of children available to adopt: 1-15 years old at the time of referral

Who can adopt?
-   Married or unmarried couples, or single women

-    At least one member of the couple must be 30, and neither can be over 50

-    Single females can’t be older than 45 years old

-    No LGBTQ individuals or couples

Referral vs Placement Timeline: 8-16 months for a referral, and then 8-12 months till placement

Travel Requirements: Two trips: the first is after the referral is accepted by the prospective adoptive parent(s) and that is for 15 days. The second trip is for 2-7 days, to bring the child home.

Click here to learn more about adoption in Haiti here.

Colombia
10. Colombia

Number of children adopted from the US in 2016: 131
Hague Convention Country? No

Age of children available to adopt: You can’t adopt a child younger than 6 years, 11 months unless the child has special characteristics (special needs or part of a sibling set).

Who can adopt?
-   Married or unmarried

-    Must be at least 25 years old and at least 15 years older than the child(ren) to be adopted

-    Single females can’t be older than 45 years old

-    No decision yet on whether LGBTQ couples can adopt; this is pending in court

Foster care? Some children are in foster care. Most common for kids under 8 and those who live in rural areas to be in foster care.

Referral vs Placement Timeline: Referral time can vary a lot, but can be as little as 2 months. Placement can be 6-8 weeks after referral. For many, families are in Colombia within 4-5 months of submitting their dossier.

Travel Requirements: Both parents must travel for the first 10-14 days. Then only one parent is required to stay the rest of the time, which on average is another two weeks or so.

Learn more about Colombia adoption by clicking here.

Taiwan
11. Taiwan

Number of children adopted from the US in 2016: 59
Hague Convention Country? No

Age of children available to adopt: Children may be as young as 9-12 months at match. All younger kids will have some sort of special need. Can adopt children as old as 15.

Who can adopt?:
-   Married couples or singles

-    Parent must be at least 20 years older than the child they wish to adopt. If married, one parent must be 20 years older and the other can be 16 years older.

-    LGBTQ people can adopt but their marriages aren’t recognized

-    Must be open to an open adoption

Referral vs Placement Timeline: Takes 8-16 months for a referral, and then 5-9 months for placement

Travel Requirements: Generally one trip of 5-7 days, and only one parent must travel

Other: Birth mothers are often involved in placement and may request to meet the adoptive parents. They can also request an open adoption, with letters and photos.

Read more about Taiwan adoption here.

author image

Maya Brown-Zimmerman

Maya Brown-Zimmerman is a mother of three, both biologically and through adoption. She has been blogging since before it was cool, and is passionate about everything from open and ethical adoption to special needs advocacy and patient-physician communication. In her spare time (ha!) she's on the board of directors for a medical nonprofit and enjoys medical and crime dramas. You can read more from her on her blog, Musings of a Marfan Mom.


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