Children all over the world are in need of a good home. In the United States alone, 111,820 children were waiting to be adopted in 2015, and 427,910 were in foster care. Worldwide, an estimated 140 million children in 2016 were orphans. While some of these orphans still have one parent remaining, many do not. Considering the current warfare in the Middle East, and the resulting refugee crisis, many children have lost their homes and their parents, and are in need of a loving family to take them in. If you’ve decided on adoption, there are a few facts about international (or intercountry) adoption, in particular, you may need to know before beginning the process.
Not All Countries Allow International Adoption
While some countries are stable enough to create regulations around adoption, not all are. Some nations have unstable or distracted governments more focused on issues other than international adoption. Some countries have extremely stringent requirements for approval, while others, such as Russia, flat out ban foreign adoption (although, Russia’s ban only affects Americans seeking children). Several countries in Africa also ban international adoption, such as Kenya, which passed legislation against such adoptions in 2014. The U.S. Department of State keeps an updated list of various countries and any updated information about their adoption policies. See their website to stay informed.
Adopting Internationally Could Take Years
While domestic adoptions could take a few months to a few years, international adoptions can take even longer. The speed varies depending on how quickly the country of the child takes to process the adoption papers. After the documents are processed, some countries require the parents to have extended residency in the child’s country before an adoption can be finalized. Other countries, such as Cambodia, stop processing intercountry adoption altogether as they attempt to improve upon their child welfare policies. This means anyone who was in the middle of processing an adoption now has to wait for the finalization of government policies before taking their child home.
Not All Countries Allow Same-Sex Adoptions
In the United States, LGBT couples were granted the right to adopt in all 50 states when Mississippi’s same-sex adoption ban was ruled unconstitutional. This protection against discrimination only applies in the United States, however. Certain countries ban the adoption of children by same-sex couples. Most of Africa, for example, explicitly prohibits LGBT adoption. The only African country that doesn’t is South Africa, which has made significant strides toward equality for same-sex people in all facets of life. Check with each country’s policy on LGBT adoption before setting your sights on a child from that country.
International Adoption Is Expensive
While adoption is expensive in general, some think international is cheaper than domestic; this is not the case. In fact, intercountry adoption can be even more costly. Potential parents seeking to adopt internationally will have to spend money on a visa for their child, passports for themselves, and travel expenses for all involved. Flights are expensive enough domestically but can be extremely high if flying internationally. You might also have to plan for an extended stay in the child’s country of origin while the adoption is finalized.
You Will Have to Be Interviewed
Licensed adoption agencies interview all prospective parents even in international adoptions. However, you will also be interviewed by a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) representative to ensure you can provide a stable home for a child. Your adoption agency will know what home studies will be required by each state.
You Will Probably Need a Lawyer
Even domestic adoption involves mountains of paperwork, agreements, and legal stipulations. Having an experienced adoption attorney with you during the whole process can speed things along, particularly if you’re dealing with legal issues internationally. Your lawyer can explain the necessities involved in the adoption and can talk you through what needs to be signed and who the documents need to be sent to.
If you’re thinking about adopting, make sure you’re ready. Contact us at (713) 766-6283 or fill out our online form to discuss your case with a Houston adoption attorney here at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates.