In general, basic considerations for any kind ofadoption (domestic or international) include age, income and overall family status. However, international adoptions may have additional requirements, some of which are fairly basic and others that may be a little more unconventional. It is not uncommon, for example, to be questioned about your religious beliefs during an international adoption home study. Likewise, some countries want information about the number of times you’ve been divorced and may have requirements regarding your marital status or height to weight ratio.
Knowing which country requires what will help you narrow down locations to consider in your adoption search.
Marital Status – Both married and single individuals can petition for adoption in the U.S. However, adoption laws in other countries may not allow single-parent or same-sex adoptions. Thailand, for instance, does not allow single-parent adoptions at all. China does, but requires you to sign an affidavit stating that you are not gay. Singapore, on the other hand, allows single-parent adoption but restricts the adoption by gender (a single male looking to adopt can only adopt a boy, not a girl).
Age – In order to adopt a child from a foreign country, the United States requires that single individuals be at least 25 years of age. If you’re married, the U.S. requires that you and your spouse must both be at least 21. In addition, you cannot be more than 45 years older than the child you’re adopting, regardless of whether you’re married or single. Other countries may also have their own age requirements. For example, most Asian countries see age as a positive factor and equate it with maturity and stability, giving older hopeful parents a point in their favor. Likewise, Mexico and Greece welcome couples up to 60 years of age; Venezuela has no statutory age limit at all. Other countries, like some in Eastern Europe, actually give preference to younger couples.
Residency and Citizenship – At least one of the adopting parents must be a U.S. citizen in order to bring a child from a foreign country into the United States and both parents must reside in the U.S. during the entire adoption process. This particular requirement can conflict with the laws of other countries. For example, Slovakia requires that you are a long-term resident of the country and must remain there during the entire adoption process, which could conflict with the U.S. requirements. St. Lucia, on the other hand, doesn’t require you to be a resident but does insist that you own property on the island before you can adopt.
Background Check – The United States requires all adopting parents to be fingerprinted and compared with both state and federal criminal records as well as child abuse registers. Foreign countries may have additional requirements regarding your background check.
Home Study – All adoptions require a home study that delve into various areas of your life including your financial status, medical condition, family background and criminal history. International home studies can be a little different and require some additional information not normally required during a domestic home study. For this reason, its important to make sure that your adoption agency is qualified to conduct an international home study. You should also be aware that the home study and background check process can often take anywhere from three to six months. If there is substantial delay of the adoption due to unforeseen problems in the court system of the foreign country or a medical issue, for example, you may see your home study, background check and other documents “expire”, requiring you to do it all over again before the adoption can be completed. This is not particularly common but possible.
Domestic Re-Adoption – While it is not required by law, you may want to consider re-adopting your child once you return to the United States. A re-adoption allows you to obtain a U.S. birth certificate for your child, something that he or she will definitely need at some point in their lives and additionally, many states do not recognize foreign adoptions so you’ll want to make sure yours is legal and binding no matter where you live. Re-adopting your child will also allow you to complete a legal name change if that was something you had planned to do. There are however, some countries that allow the adoption process to be completed in the U.S. Korea for example, relinquishes guardianship of the child to the agency and then the official adoption process is completed in the States. The adoption process in India also works this way, with the final adoption occuring domestically. In these instances, the child would enter the U.S. on an IR-4 Visa instead of an IR-3.
Other Factors To Consider – There are several reasons to consider international adoption.Probably the most common is that there are so many children available for adoption in other countries. Additionally, children cannot be put up for international adoption until they are truly orphans so all parental rights of the birthparents have been terminated and there’s no going back. That means that you won’t have to worry about a birth mother changing her mind, which is a common fear in domestic adoptions.
Another positive aspect of international adoptions is that they generally only take about a year to complete, sometimes more, sometimes a little less and you will almost always have an accurate idea of the cost of your adoption from the start.
As good as this sounds, there are some drawbacks to international adoptions as well. For instance, some countries have extra quirky rules that you wouldn’t run into with a domestic adoption. Korea has a weight/height ratio requirement – you have a BMI (body mass index) of more than 29.9 meaning you cannot weigh more than 30% of the normal weight for your height. As another example, Indonesia requires that you believe in God in addition to maintaining a two-year residency.
Many countries also require that you make one or more visits to their country and some require that you stay for a week or more at a time. You should also understand that, while you may be able to get a child who is only a few months old, you will most likely not get a newborn. Remember, the child has to be considered legally an orphan before the adoption process can take place and the international red-tape must be worked through, so it’s essentially impossible to get a newborn infant through an international adoption.
In addition, while the adoption agencies will provide you with all the medical history they have, this is often not very much. Many orphans come from mothers who had no insurance and received little to no prenatal care. Information and medical history on the birth parents is often non-existent. This is not always the case of course, and will vary from country to country but it is something you should be aware of.
And lastly, parenting a child from a foreign country (after adopion) can present some unique challenges in itself so you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared for what lies ahead as well.
You may enjoy this book on the overall adoption process as well as this book which focuses on international adoptions . Also See: