International Adoption (Glossary)

International Adoption: 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).

International Adoption Information

Intercountry Adoption From Hague and Non-Hague Convention Countries

This information was taken directly from Child Welfare Information Gateway

The process for adopting a child from another country (intercountry adoption) changed in some significant ways with the U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Convention). The Convention went into effect in the United States on April 1, 2008. The Convention is designed to promote the best interests of children, biological families, and adoptive families and to prevent the abduction, sale, and trafficking of children. In this country, the U.S. Department of State has overall responsibility for implementing the Convention, although the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the Department of Homeland Security also plays a significant role.

Intercountry Adoption: Where Do I Start?

Intercountry adoption continues to be an option for parents who choose to adopt. This factsheet provides an overview of the intercountry adoption process. Depending on your State, your adoption services provider, and the country from which you adopt, the steps in this adoption process may vary and may change over time. For example, some families will first select an adoption services provider; their choice of country will then be limited to the countries with which that provider works or from which the parents are eligible to adopt. In every case you must meet the basic requirements of U.S. immigration law.

The number of U.S. citizens adopting children from other countries increased dramatically beginning in 1990, when 7,000 children received visas to come to the United States for adoption. This continued until 2004, when 22,991 children received such visas (U.S. Department of State, n.d.-b). After peaking in 2004, these numbers began to decline, and in 2013, 7,094 children were adopted from other countries (U.S. Department of State, 2014).

Frequently Asked Questions About Intercountry Adoption