International adoptions are a way to connect wonderful parents with children in need. All over the globe, children are waiting for a family. As joyous as that seems, a prospective parent cannot lose sight of hard truths. International adoption is by no means a simple process. In more ways than one, international adoption is far more complicated than that of a local adoption.
International adoption has the potential to force prospective parents into complicated territory. Here are eight things you need to know:
- Re-adoption is a possible necessity
In addition to location logistics, prospective parents may need to “re-adopt” their children. In a foreign country, the process to take a child out of the country requires one adoption. When your child enters the US, the child may need to be re-adopted in the courts, depending on your goals and needs. To get a birth certificate and change the child's last name, a United States birth certificate from the court is necessary.
Not all countries have strong government infrastructures. In many places of the world, people may take your money and provide you with little of the services you were expecting. On the whole, foreign adoptions are safe. Still, there are instances where reports of human trafficking come up. In these instances, people sell children to traffickers. These traffickers then attempt to put children up for adoption for a profit. To be safe, use a reputable foreign adoption agency.
- Places of adoption
Countries do not let parents adopt children without a formal process. Places like China and Russia allow parents to adopt thousands of children each year. Other countries restrict the number of adoptions per year. The restrictions can be severe. Before considering an adoption, make sure that the foreign country will allow the adoption to go through.
In general, adoptions can be costly. International adoptions are more costly for obvious reasons. The cost of a foreign adoption runs anywhere from $15,000 to $60,000 or more. The cost includes home studies, travel and lodging to a foreign country, processing costs, and fees to the U.S. and foreign governments. It is helpful to point out that the United States allows a tax credit for adoption. Currently, the credit is about $13,000, but it is is subject to change in subsequent tax years
- Age restrictions
Not just anyone is available to be adopted. In general, a parent can adopt a child under the age of 15 without further question. Parents may adopt children who are 16 or 17 only if the adoptive family adopted their siblings as well. Anyone 18 or over is not subject to adoption.
- Incomplete or inaccurate records
As prospective parents, keep in mind that medical and genealogical records are often incomplete. Even a “complete” record is often inaccurate. If your adopted child asks for their genealogy, know that foreign adoption complicates the process. Foreign governments undergo regime and policy changes that render documentation potentially unreliable.
- Paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork
Foreign adoption, more so than local, requires stacks of paperwork. The country from where you are adopting the child may ask you a litany of questions. The United States will ask you a litany of questions. By the end, expect to write your name and signature a seemingly endless number of times and be prepared to answer the same personal questions over and over. Personal questions are necessary for most adoptions. Countries want assurance that their citizens go to proper families.
- Spending time in a foreign country
Plan to take time off from work. It will normally be necessary to fly to the foreign country. You need to visit your prospective child, understand their culture a little better, and sort out the paperwork. Save up vacation time to make the journey. The Family Medical Leave Act is also an option available for some families. Speak with your Human Resources department at your job to learn more.
If you are considering any form of adoption, whether international, national, local, or otherwise, please contact the NC Adoption Law Center to discuss your options and learn how we can help!