It's necessary to use an agency to facilitate international adoptions; choose the agency carefully. Ask for referrals, talk to friends who have adopted and check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been made against the agency you're interested in; check adoption forums online to learn more about how an agency conducts business. Some agencies deal with one country, while others have multiple programs in several countries. Russia, South Korea, China and Mexico are common places from which to adopt because of their cooperative approaches to adoption. Laws change frequently, so work with your agency to find the program that is best able to fulfill your desires for a child of a particular age, race and gender.
Knowing Your Program
Different countries have different qualifications for prospective adoptive parents. China requires that couples be married, but allows single women to adopt; Haiti allows single people to adopt. South Korea requires no travel — the child is brought to the United States — but Ukraine typically requires both parents to make two trips to the country to attend legal proceedings. Russia will match you with a child before the proceedings begin; Ukraine matches you after the adoption is completed.
The costs associated with an international adoption vary by country. Expect to pay at least $10,000, not counting travel costs. Fees are paid to your agency at the completion of different tasks, such as a home study (where agency representatives gather information about the adoptive family), the collection of paperwork needed by the U.S. Embassy and payment of fees and legal costs in the country of origin. Many agencies will inform you of grants that are available to defray costs. Some countries offer reduced-cost adoptions for children who need special care or surgery to correct a medical problem.
Adoptions start with lots of paperwork. Officials in the country of the child's origin require lots of information about the adoptive family, including biographical information, financial statements, health reports, references and psychological studies. A caseworker will be assigned to interview you, inspect your home, check references and get to know you better to help you find the right child. Your agency exists to help with this aspect of adoption. The amount of paperwork involved in an adoption varies from country to country.
Finalizing the Adoption
International adoptions take place in the country of the child's origin, but adoptive parents also need to go through certain procedures in the United States to obtain U.S. citizenship once the child is brought to his new home. If the adoptee is not already a U.S. citizen -- a standard situation with international adoptions -- the adoptive parents need to obtain a visa for the child through the U.S. Embassy so the child can enter the United States. Your agency will take you through the steps needed to bring your child home.