International Adoption: How it’s Different

Some ways in which adopting internationally different from adopting domestically.

Crystal Perkins March 06, 2014
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An international adoption requires numerous unique steps that may or may not be included in the agency’s overall adoption fees. Some of the paperwork that may be needed, and unusual circumstances that may arise in international adoptions, include the following:

  • A dossier of documents for the Immigration and Naturalization Service; This generally will include a fingerprint check, proof of U.S. citizenship, marriage certificate, divorce papers, evidence of financial support, medical exam, and birth certificates for the parents as well as the child.
  • Passports, visas, and immunizations.
  • Translation of documents.
  • “Donation” fees to help pay for the foreign country’s institutionalized children.
  • Foreign attorney fees and court costs.
  • Two agency fees. In most cases, your adoption fee will cover the services provided by the agency doing your home study, as well as those of the agency providing placement services. All agencies do not work with all countries, so the agency you select may have collaborate with an agency that does work with the country from which you wish to adopt. When two agencies are involved in the adoption, your costs may be higher.
  • Transportation, food, and lodging costs involved for you or an escort to travel to the child’s country to bring the child home. Some countries require adoptive parents to stay only a few days; others require that at least one of the adopting parents stay for up to eight weeks to be approved as an adoptive family by local officials.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Foster care for the child in the foreign country during the adoption process.
  • Re-adopting in the United States, in some instances (even if formally adopted in another country) you will have to re-adopt when you get to the United States.
  • Naturalization process; this step is vital to ensure the child is afforded all the protection of being a United States citizen.
  • Proof to the United States government that the adoptive family has income or assets that put them 125 percent or more above the poverty level for a family size that includes the child to be adopted.
  • Undiagnosed medical problems. Various parasites, skin disorders, and so on may require treatment after you bring the child home.

There are some financial risks in international adoptions. A country may decide to close its doors to outside adoptions. In that case, adoptive parents in the middle of the adoption process in that country could lose money, as well as be unable to complete an adoption of a child already selected. In most cases, the agency you’re working with will be aware of impending changes in a particular country, usually before a specific child has been identified, and redirect you to another country. There may be some costs for additional paperwork required by the new country

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Crystal Perkins

Crystal is the content manager for Adoption.com. In her free time, she enjoys honing her outdoor photography skills, going on hikes, and hanging out with her husband.


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