International Adoption for Dummies
September 16, 2006 5:01 PM   Subscribe

My spouse and I would like to adopt internationally. What are some good resources to learn about the process?

Further information: We are just starting the process, so we don't know what country we'd prefer or anything like that. At this point, we're not interested in domestic adoption. We've been looking for information online, but haven't found much other than sites provided by agencies. Does anyone have more objective resources? Personal experiences would also be appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
You've already made one big decision, having decided on international rather than domestic. You don't say how you decided, to what degree you've thought through the issues of each. Some quickly reject domestic because of the considerable wait times for babies, and that older kids come with baggage, or that the birth parents might factor in now and in the future.

International seems simpler, but it has its own challenges: your kid won't look like you, and people will be quick to point that out. Constantly. If you're accustomed to white privilege, can you deal with the racism your kid will be subjected to? The fact that the birth family is probably out of reach sounds like a good thing to new adoptive parents, but in the long run causes all sorts of problems for many adoptees who just want to see someone who is related to them.

There's a massive amount of information on the Internet beyond what the agencies put out. Adoption.Com and Adopting.Org are a couple of huge sites not connected to agencies that can get you started. Or search Amazon for some books: hundreds are in print and many are quite good.

Your next step is to pick a country, or at least a region. Primarily that's Asia, South America or Eastern Europe. Think about which countries you would feel comfortable with, because you will be advised to learn a lot about it, perhaps visit it, as part of raising a child born there. Once you focus on a country, there are incredible resources available on the net, far too many to list here. The best are the parent-driven support groups, who will help cut through the noise.

My daughters are adopted internationally, and it's absolutely the best most life-changing thing that ever happened to me.
posted by bigmuffindaddy at 5:49 PM on September 16, 2006 [2 favorites]

International seems simpler, but it has its own challenges: your kid won't look like you, and people will be quick to point that out. Constantly. If you're accustomed to white privilege, can you deal with the racism your kid will be subjected to?

That's not necessarily true, of course.. Russia, Europe.. so I wouldn't cite that as an immediate challenge.
posted by wackybrit at 5:55 PM on September 16, 2006

My sister's adopted a boy from Guatamala and has had an amazing experience. She's very active on a Guatama adoption listserv, that might be a place to start. Perhaps one of these. If you meet Rebecca Center, that's my sister, she's really nice.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:21 PM on September 16, 2006

It's a little out of date, but my sister and her husband have adopted three little girls from China, and they published a website about their experiences.
posted by crunchland at 10:29 PM on September 16, 2006

Ask someone that has done this themselves recently. They will be your best source of information. If you can't find anyone that has done this, the the above suggestions are great too.
posted by ChazB at 3:01 AM on September 17, 2006

Your first step is not to be embarrassed about it; repost this question under your real name. Adoption is not a failing - you are not a loser because you cannot or don't want to have children of your own.

Simple googling for "international adoption" will tell you much. There are many books written on the subject, available from your library. There are many email lists ( devoted to the subject.

Each country has its own problems. Some countries are plagued by baby-buying - the child you adopt might not have been abandoned, it might have been bought from its mother or even kidnapped. Some countries have high rates of fetal alcohol syndrome or very poor maternal care. Some countries are extremely picky about who they adopt to.

I can give you one piece of advice: the waiting period for China is currently around 2.5 years or more. That is, after you've jumped through all the hoops here and sent off the paperwork (which takes a solid six months), you'll wait at least 2.5 years more before you get a referral (a child assigned to you, which you then travel to China and pick up). If that waiting period is too long for you, China is not for you.
posted by jellicle at 5:24 AM on September 17, 2006

The Adoption Guide, published by Adoptive Families magazine. The Guide is free online (there's also a print version) and is full of info for pre-adopters, including all the fun stuff like budget & timing charts. It's also got a ton of personal stories from parents. Not affiliated with any agency.
posted by sonofslim at 8:52 AM on September 17, 2006

I have a friend who adopted several children from Cambodia and created a detailed blog about the process. The site is currently unavailable but it can be accessed through the Way Back Machine: "It's very difficult to ask "Was my baby bought or stolen?", "Did my agency willingly lie to me?", "How many orphans are there really?", "Where is the money going?""

I've also heard that MyAdoptionLinks is very useful and detailed.
posted by hugsnkisses at 4:54 PM on September 17, 2006

International seems simpler, but it has its own challenges: your kid won't look like you, and people will be quick to point that out.

Depending on where you live, trans-racial families are all over the place. Yes, my internationally adopted children look different from us but so do a lot of other families walking around. If you live in or near a big city, this is less of an issue than when international adoption first opened up in the mid to late 90s.

Each country has its pros and cons. A suggestion: educate yourself about why children are put up for adoption in each of the countries you are considering. Look at prenatal care as that will affect your child for a lifetime.

Each country has a different process for adoption. I believe in Russia you must go to the country at least twice. Look at the wait times for each country. When we adopted from China the wait had been about 6 months but then the Chinese government decided to reorganize their adoption agencies and the wait turned into a little over a year.

Hearing from one prospective Chinese adoption parent recently we heard the wait is now three years. I find that hard to believe (I'm not saying it isn't so) but I am not as connected with the process as I was when we adopted.

Adoption agencies specializing in international adoption hold seminars that will help provide important and current information on the process. Also, it will allow you to see how each agency works. And they can put you in touch with others who have adopted to get a first hand look at both the children and the process.

Best of luck. It's a wonderful experience.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 6:07 AM on September 18, 2006

We're in the process of adopting from China and the wait is moving towards 18 months. I don't know about other country programs, but wait times for China seem to fluctuate quite dramatically (when we first applied it was around 7 months). We've heard that they're trying to the wait to at most 18 months.

The internet of course has lots of information, but I second attending information sessions/seminars at a local, reputable agency. We found that our agency's staff were very upfront about all the issues and challenges that we would face, as it is in everyone's best interests that prospective parents be completely prepared before going through the process.

Our experience: We chose China for a variety of reasons, but one major reason was that it is our agency's biggest program. As first time adoptive parents, we appreciated knowing that they have facilitated many adoptions from China and they could prepare us very well for the adventure that awaits us.
posted by RibaldOne at 10:45 AM on September 18, 2006

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