Adopt an Orphan

Want to adopt an orphan? Great! There are over millions of orphans worldwide. Many families have been blessed by their passion to adopt an orphan over the years. From the aftermath of the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or the Cambodian crisis in the 1970s to natural disasters in Indonesia or Haiti, there have been many opportunities for Americans to lend a helping hand to the world through the beauty of adoption.

What is adoption?

Adoption is the process of transferring legal custody of a child from one family to another. Adoption is a transformational process where the choice is made to bring a child without a parent into your home and make him a part of your family. It transforms the child’s life, who may be living in an orphanage overseas or a group home or foster home here in the States. It transforms the adoptive family’s life also because they have added another person to their family. It is truly a “win-win” situation for both parties involved.

What is an orphan?

According to UNICEF, the definition of an orphan is a child who has lost at least one parent to death as a result of disease, war, or poverty. Using that definition as a metric, there would be between 140 and 160 million orphans in the world. These children are not necessarily in need of an adoptive home. However, using a more conservative definition of orphan, where a child has lost both parents, the number of orphans turns out to be between 15-18 million orphans in the world, most of whom need a forever family. So, how do you adopt an orphan? Keep reading!

Different Types of Adoption

There are different types of adoption that people engage in depending on who the child is, where he lives and whether the child is currently a ward of the state.

International adoption is one way to adopt an orphan. Countries that are most adoption-friendly are Ukraine, India, South Korea, Kenya, and Mexico. However, please keep in mind, it is getting considerably more and more difficult to adopt overseas. Rising costs added restrictions, and ever-increasing regulations make international adoptions ever rarer. Due to those issues, international adoptions have decreased by 82 percent since 2004!

The process of adopting an international orphan is a lengthy one, but well worth it if you have the resources. First, you will have to search for an international adoption agency. They will take you through the application process, the home study process, the international paperwork process, and the legal process. Second, you will have to decide how to finance your adoption. International adoptions can cost upwards of $40,000! Whether it is through adoption loans or adoption grants or employer-funded grants, it is possible to fund your adoption without going bankrupt! Third, you will have to search and be matched to a child. Lastly, you will have to prepare to possibly travel out-of-country to meet the child.  The time it takes between the start of the application process to the finalization of your adoption may take a few years, but it may be time well spent. Remember, every long journey begins with a first step.

If you want to adopt an orphan here in America, you may choose to go the private domestic adoption, rather than international. These children are born right here in the U.S. and need a forever home. The costs are a bit more manageable, though it will still cost thousands of dollars. The timetable is a bit more manageable also. Please keep in mind that there are no orphanages here in America, and most children who lose one parent go to live with the other parent. If there is no other parent to take custody, then the child usually goes to a relative. Here are the steps if you do not already have an identified child in mind:

The process to adopt an orphan who is related to you varies from state to state, but you may need to find an agency to license/certify you and to write your home study. A home study is an investigative report that summarizes how to fit you are to adopt. The home study is then approved by the court or state authority. You will need to go through background checks, home inspections, physicals, references, and other requirements that non-relatives must go through.

You may or may not need to take the training. However, if free training is available, then take advantage of it. You may be a great-grandma, however, you may be unprepared to handle the different emotions, behaviors, and attitudes that your grandchild is experiencing. Helping your child navigate the turbulent waters of grief and loss is essential during this troubled time.

Lastly, if you are a relative who wants to adopt an orphan who is a relative, please beware of the fact that you may be grieving at this time also. It may be difficult to balance the needs of a grieving child with your own. Your son, daughter, cousin, nephew, or niece was important to you as well as the child who now resides with you. Don’t ignore your own emotions. You will not be able to take care of others if you cannot take care of yourself. Get help!

While there are not nearly as many orphans here in the U.S. as there are in the world, there is still a great need to adopt foster children here in the U.S. There are over 400,000 children in foster care and 100,000 of those are free for adoption. Something to keep in mind is that foster children come into care—through no fault of their own—due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment and, therefore, have suffered great trauma in their lives.

The process to adopt a child from foster care is like domestic adoption described above with one caveat: the cost to adopt a child from foster care is little to nothing! Foster care adoption may be the option for parents who are not able/willing to pay thousands of dollars to adopt. The good news is that foster care adoption is free because these children are wards of the state.

Orphan Issues

As stated above, orphans have suffered great trauma in their lives. Whether through death, imprisonment, or abandonment, they have lost a loved one. Whether they have been adopted overseas or here in the United States, they have seen and experienced things that “regular” kids have not. They may have been abused, neglected, or abandoned. They may have seen the ravages of war and poverty. They may have witnessed the death of a parent or witnessed the arrest and incarceration of a parent. Or they may have suffered silently alongside a terminally-ill parent who ultimately died. Whatever the case, these are special needs children and should be treated as such. Sometimes they have no words to express their grief. Therefore, their feelings come out in their actions and behaviors. Here are several issues you need to be prepared for if you want to adopt an orphan:

To be blunt, all the traumas don’t go away just because you choose to adopt a child. To quote Nancy Thomas, “Love is not enough.” So, what can you do to help these little ones? First, get counseling for your little one. The pain they experience cannot be rectified by just having a nice room full of toys. Second, provide consistency for your little one. If you provide a calm, safe, and loving environment, then over time your little one will learn to trust you. Third, don’t give up! Things will get worse before they get better especially during adolescence. Dr. James Dobson said that going through the teen years with your teen is like being in a boat through a terrible storm. It is the parent’s job to simply ride out those adolescent years without the boat capsizing. Be patient! Lastly, avoid power struggles—especially over food. Give choices and allow your child to make mistakes and to be responsible for their choices.

Attempting to adopt an orphan is difficult, either here or overseas. But rest assured, providing a home for one of these children is an incredible thing that only gives a forever family to a child in need. Do your homework! Take an inventory of your motivations, skills, and resources. Speak to other adoptive parents who have done the same. Take the plunge! Will it be hard? Will it be worth it? Absolutely!



Do you feel there is a hole in your heart that can only be filled by a child? We’ve helped complete 32,000+ adoptions. We would love to help you through your adoption journey. Visit or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.