They make it look so easy. Fly off to exotic destination: return tanner, happier, and with new child in tow. While international adoption isn’t as simple for us regular folk as it is for Brad and Angelina, it’s possible. There are hundreds of thousands of children across the world waiting for homes. One of them could be sitting across the table from you a year from now.
The process itself can be difficult. And lengthy. It usually starts with a home study, where a social worker visits your family and evaluates your capacity to raise a child. That hurdle crossed, things move on to paperwork. Once parents decide on a country, the process “generally takes five to ten months,” according to Heartsent Adoptions Inc., a nonprofit organization that facilitates international adoptions.
Most families are prepared for the wait, but many are shocked to learn how expensive things can be. International adoptions can easily cost $10,000-30,000. The government provides a one-time Adoption Tax Credit, available for both domestic and international adoptions, but for families of inter-country adoptions, the funds aren’t available until after the adoption is complete.
Still, international adoption is on the rise, especially from Asian countries. In 2005, 22,710 foreign children found new homes with American families, and about half of them were from Asia, according to the National Council for Adoption. China led the way, for the sixth straight year.
If you’re thinking of expanding your family with a child from beyond our borders, here are three places to start:
The National Council for Adoption is a primer point for facts, stats, and all things adoptive. www.adoptioncouncil.org
The State Department offers a load of information for potential adoptive families. It also maintains a list with adoption requirements by country. http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/country/country_369.html
The Office of Children’s Issues at the Bureau of Consular Affairs provides a stack of country-specific brochures and 24-hour info 1-888-407-4747.