Frequently Asked Questions about International Child Adoption / Frequently Asked Questions about International Child Adoption

Frequently Asked Questions

We have listed some of the most frequently asked questions about international child adoption and provided brief answers that will lead you to additional information.

Why do so many people adopt from other countries?

The availability of adoptable children in the U.S. has been decreasing in proportion to the number of people wanting to adopt.  In a domestic adoption there are many rules and regulations that come with the U.S. adoption agencies, and an adopting person or couple may not be able to comply with the regulations and limitations.  Additionally, some couples feel that adopting an orphan or foreign born child is just what is right for them.

What are the most popular countries to adopt from?

China, Russia, and the former Soviet Union countries are very popular and have been for some time.  Click on the specific country for more information about China adoption, Russian adoption and other country adoption.

Is it best to work with an adoption agency or facilitator?

Adoption attorneys and adoption agencies are licensed where adoption facilitators may not be.  In an international adoption you will usually need the assistance of an adoption agency regardless of whether or not you have an attorney.  Adoption facilitators are such a risk that the U.S. government advised adopting persons not to use facilitators.

What requirements do the parents have to meet?

For international adoption, all prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years of age. At least one parent must be a U.S. citizen. Each adopting person must complete the U.S. Government I-600 or I-800 form, must have a Home Study, and receive FBI and state child abuse clearances.  Other than these two requirements, each country decides other eligibility criteria, such as marital status, age, income, etc.

How do we know if we qualify to adopt?

Each country has its own guidelines for the qualifications of adoptive parents and some agencies have their own requirements independent of the country.  You can verify the requirements by checking with the adoption agency you have selected and by reviewing the criterion of the country you are considering

Are there any risks to international adoption?

Definitely.  There are many aspects of the international adoption process that are beyond the control of any attorney or U.S. agency.  Foreign governments may change requirements or procedures without notice, moratoriums may be declared to revise adoption laws, strikes and illnesses may occur. Birth mothers may change their minds, or the child may be adopted by an in-country family.

Should we file the I-600 or i-800 Form before we do the home study?

Yes. This is a U.S. form all U.S. citizens need to complete before they will be allowed to adopt a child.  All U.S. citizens will need to complete this form early in the process. The home study, which is part of the I-600A can be filed when it is completed and after the initial I-600 or I-800 has been submitted.

What kind of adoption expenses should I expect?

Your adoption costs will cover both agency services fees and international fees. Agency fees cover office overhead, program development and relief efforts. You will need pay for a Home Study, fees for notarization, certification and authentication, travel fees, your hotel, food, etc while overseas, and post-placement fees.

When are fees due?

This is a very important questions since every adoption agency handles this differently.  Sometimes the fees are paid early on and other times the fees are staggered throughout the adoption process. Make sure you get this in detailed written form before proceeding.

How much money do international adoptions cost?

The total fees for an International adoption tend to run from about $15,000 to about $35,000 depending on the country involved.  The cost usually includes agency fees, travel expenses and CIS (formerly called the INS) fees, as well as the fees required by the country from which you are adopting.

Is financial help available to help in an adoption?

Yes, financial help may be available, even for international adoptions. It may be from the federal government as a subsidy or tax credit, it may be from your employer, or some other source.

How hard is it to adopt a child from another country?

Some aspects are easier than a domestic adoption, others are harder. It depends on what country you are adopting from, your age, marital status, etc.

Which countries have children available for adoption?

Many countries have children available for intercountry adoption and most of these countries have many specific criterion the adoption person(s) must have. Other countries won't allow you to adopt their children.

What issues should the adopting family take into consideration when adopting a child internationally?

Critical issues involve your ability and willingness to travel and stay overseas, if you are willing to accept a child who is not a newborn or an infant, and can you accept the ambiguities involved in intercountry delays and last minute changes found in many international adoptions.

What issues about the child should the adopting family take into consideration?

Some of the critical issues to consider include the child's age, the birth parents medical histories and the birth mother's prenatal care, whether the child has been institutionalized or been in foster care, and the most recent health information about the child.

Is a Home Study needed in all international adoptions?

A Home Study is required for all international adoptions and is valid for one year from the date it is approved. (If a year passes and you have not completed your adoption, your home study must be updated.) Once you have arranged to work with an international adoption agency, the agency will assign you a licensed social worker to begin your home study.

What exactly is an international Home Study ?

Basically, a home study first your completing paperwork, then an assessment of you and your home and then education about the adoption process. The social worker, on behalf of the adoption agency completing the Home Study wants to make sure of two things: you are suited to be an adoptive parent and you have an appropriate place to raise a child.

Can we use a private person to complete the Home Study or must we use an adoption agency?

In an international adoption you should always use a licensed adoption agency and a non-profit adoption agency is preferable over a for-profit agency.

Can we work with an agency that is located in a state other than where we reside?

Absolutely, in fact most international adoptions are completed in this fashion.  Our adoption agency or any other licensed international adoption agency can work with families throughout the United States and abroad.

Where can I find an adoption agency to help us?

The page International Child Adoption: More Countries will give you important information about each country allowing adoption of its children by foreigners.  You can always contact us for information and advice.

Can our adoption agency or private attorney guarantee the health of the child?

No agency or person can guarantee the health of the child.  You should expect as much information as is available at the time. The medical information typically consists of a birth certificate, medical exam, and lab work. It may be necessary to get the opinion of a specialist if the original medical information shows a problem. Have your doctor review the medical information to obtain a second opinion.

How much information will I have about the child's health before I adopt?

Adopting parents will learn the medical histories for children once their adoption agency receives this information. Due to the many variables surrounding a child's arrival at the orphanage, medical history may be very sketchy and sometimes unknown. A child's medical condition is usually based upon a local physician's examination and is made known to the adopting parents, but it may contain some inaccurate information.  You can check with a U.S. doctor or clinic who specialize in this area.

Where can I get good medical advice about an international adoption?

A listing of international medical specialists should be provided to you by your agency prior to your child referral.  You can also visit the information on this website.

Do all adoptions from the same country take the same amount of time?

No. Sometimes two families from the same state or local area are seeking a child from the same country and one will get their child 2-4 months after completing their dossier and the second family can wait for many months longer. . Due to the differences between each family (the state of their dossier), their expectations of what kind of child they want (age, gender, medical condition, etc.) and the conditions of the child (family, legal status, personal history) each adoption is unique.

Can we request to adopt a child of a particular sex or age?

In most countries an adopting family can select both the age and the gender of the child; although the youngest available children are usually at least 4-6 months old.  The adoption agency you select you help you with these issues.

Can more than one child be adopted at the same time?

Two or more children, related or not related, may be adopted at the same time from a limited number of countries.  It is much easier to adopt a sibling group that it is to adopt two unrelated children.

Can single people adopt?

Yes. There are some limitations and/or additional requirements for single parents depending on the country. If you are single, your adoption agency can tell you more about what might be the best option for you.

What is a dossier?

The dossier is the collection of documents that your adoption agency sends to the legal decision-making body in the child's country of origin. It describes the person or couple that would like to adopt and demonstrates that they are capable of being adequate parents.

What documents go into a dossier?

Again, this will vary country-to-country. However, there are some basic documents required for all dossiers. Most of these are certified documents obtained from the state's bureau of vital records. Examples are certified copies of marriage certificates, birth certificates, divorce decrees, and death certificates, where applicable. The adoption agency will instruct you as to how many to order, once you've decided on a country.

Why is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services involved?

When you complete adoption of a child in a foreign country, that child is a citizen of that country. When you bring the child home to the U.S., you are bringing a citizen of another country into the U.S. From a legal standpoint, the child is immigrating into the U.S. and the USCIS regulates all immigrations. Therefore, to bring your newly adopted child into the U.S., you must comply with the rules as defined by the USCIS. These are not too complex and involve mostly filling out a number of forms.

What is involved in returning to the U.S. with my child?

Bringing your adopted child home to the U.S. has been addressed by the US Department of State. A child adopted in a foreign country or coming to the United States for adoption must have an immigrant visa. There are three different types of immigrant visas, and the kind your child will need depends on the adoption situation.

Should I re-adopt my child after I return to the U.S.?

If the child is fully adopted overseas, there is no federal requirement for re-adoption in the United States. Even though re-adoption may not be required, the adopting parents may choose to re-adopt the child for specific reasons, such as to re-name the child or to obtain a state birth certificate.

What is authentication?

The officials in the foreign country from which you will be adopting are looking and trying to make sense of all your documents and they want to make sure the documents are real and accurate. To resolve this problem, they have adopted a set of requirements call authentication or sealing.

Do we need to have passports and visas for adoption?

For all international adoptions, you will need a valid passport that is not due to expire within the year. Almost all countries require travel visas to enter their country.

Where can I find adoption laws that I need to be aware of?

There are U.S. laws as well as foreign country laws.  One of the most important is the Hague Convention.  You can find more information at Adoption Laws.

What is Adoption Services?

Our adoption agency is a a licensed, not-for-profit adoption agency. We cut no corners, take no short-cuts, make sure you take no unnecessary risks, and provide you with all the information and personal assistance you need and desire in both domestic adoptions and international adoptions. We are licensed in PA, NJ, NY, VA, FL and WV but are able to help adopting families living anywhere in the U.S., military personnel and expatriates in foreign countries, and citizens of other countries.

How do I find out more information about Intercountry adoption and about specific countries?

If you click on the other links on this website, you will find a number of links to valuable websites related to intercountry adoption. In addition, you are welcome to contact us directly if you have very specific questions about adoption from the countries in which we work.