How Do You Choose Which Country to Adopt From Internationally?

With so many options for international adoption, the process can be difficult to begin. Here is a guide.

Nancy J. Evans Hall May 15, 2018
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There are so many countries to adopt from internationally, so how do you know where to begin? What criteria should you use? Having adopted our daughter back in 2002 from Bulgaria, I can share a few tips we learned along the way and how Bulgaria even came up as a possibility.

For many years, I had been interested in adopting internationally. I have never been able to explain it except for the fact that it simply seemed a good option. My husband and I decided that we would probably like to adopt from China. There was no real reason, to be honest, except that we were intrigued by Chinese culture. Then we happened to see an adoption agency doing a free seminar nearby on the whole international adoption process, so we decided to attend.

We got a lot of good, useful information from that workshop and liked the people we would be dealing with if we used that agency. The only thing was that they didn’t do adoptions from China. So we talked and agreed that we were flexible and wanted to look into other country alternatives. We talked some more with the agency, ultimately deciding on Kazakhstan. You may already see where this is going…

They did help us rule out places such as Guatemala, which, at least at the time, were geared more toward newborn adoption, whereas we were seeking to adopt a 2- to 3-year-old child. Other countries, such as Russia, had extended stay requirements, which would not have worked at all with our employment at the time. There were also lengths of time for the whole process to think about. Some countries required two parents, had specific parent ages as requirements, or had divorce parameters (as in how many times you’ve been married). Issues like these helped us narrow down the options, and hopefully it will be helpful for you to take these factors into consideration, too. Additionally, the cost varied from country to country, so talk with your agency about that as well.

A few weeks into the home study process, we got a call from our agency director, who said there was a fourteen-month-old Turkish Bulgarian girl available (knowing that the process would take about one to one and a half years start to finish), and that normally they wouldn’t have started the process with a family still involved in the home study process.  However, something told them this just felt right. She told us that the Bulgarian culture and people would be an excellent match for our personalities and asked if we wanted to proceed, which, of course, we did, and the rest is history, as they say.

Begin with our experience as talking points, whether you’re adopting as a single person or as a couple. Discuss what you are willing to do and not willing to do, to afford or not to afford, when it comes to international adoption, then seek out an agency to get details depending on what you’ve decided. A good agency will help you decide on a country and culture that is a compatible fit for you and your situation. My biggest tip: Be open to the possibilities, and enjoy the experience!


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Nancy J. Evans Hall

Nancy Hall is married to the love of her life and has a wonderful teenage daughter. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A.T. in Humane Education. She had the privilege of studying at Oxford Univerisity in England for a while and eventually moved overseas for nearly 4 years. She enjoys traveling, writing, yoga and Pilates, rock music and festivals, and all things animal-related -- she has several rescued pets. She currently works as an academic advisor at a state college.

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