As a prospective adoptive parent, there are many things you need to consider before making the decision between American adoption and international adoption, and several misconceptions that need to be addressed. First is the idea that international adoption is easier. It is widely believed that there are fewer children available for domestic adoption than there are parents who want to adopt them, and that the chances of getting a healthy newborn are slim. In actuality, the National Council for Adoption estimates that approximately 20,000 U.S. born children are put up for adoption annually, and most of them are healthy. Additionally, domestic adoption provides an opportunity to adopt a newborn, as many birth mothers make the decision to give their child up for adoption and choose birth parents during their pregnancy. Adopting a newborn is not a possibility with international adoptions, as these children become available for adoption once they are placed in orphanages.
There is also the issue of travel. Depending on the country you choose to adopt from, there are different travel requirements. Some countries insist on multiple visits of varying lengths. Depending on the flexibility of your job schedule, this could prove a difficulty.
Birth records, family history and health issues, and other important records are usually available in an American adoption, and almost never fully available, if at all in international adoptions. This could cause problems down the road, as genetic propensities and the child’s personal history will not be known.
The difference in wait time is not as extreme as most people believe. The American Adoptions adoption agency reports that 90% of their couples have a wait time of 1-18 months. China’s average wait time is 10-12 months, and Russia’s is 6-12 months. Add this to the fact that the children in these countries may already be several months old when the process begins, and up to a year older than that when the adoption is finalized. This means that there is greater potential among these children to have attachment disorders and emotional problems for lack of personalized, individual care.
Finally, there is actually little difference in the costs incurred for an American adoption and an international adoption. Domestic adoptions range from $8,000 and $40,000, with the average adoption costing between $15,000 and $25,000. Adopting a Chinese child can cost between $20,000 and $25,000, and a Russian child $30,000 to $40,000.
Adopting any child is a noble and wonderful process, whatever you decide. There is a great need for placement of children in other countries, and this should not in any way be overlooked as an option. It is important, however, to have all the facts in order to make an informed decision.