For couples who are considering both domestic and international adoption, sifting through the information about both types of adoption can be a huge task. Because I often get asked about the difference between domestic and international adoption, I compiled a list to explain the basic differences. Whichever type you choose is, or course, a personal decision.
One of the main differences, and most obvious on the front end, is the costs involved in both types of adoption. A domestic adoption costs an average of $12,000-$16,000. An international adoption costs between $18,000-$35,000. International adoptions tend to run more because you have to deal with two countries, paperwork with INS and you have to travel to another country and may have to stay up to two weeks depending on where you go. There are very few countries that do not require some sort of travel. You don’t typically have to travel with a domestic adoption unless you do an interstate adoption. Domestic adoptions tend to cost less, although there are some agencies that charge an exorbanent amount of money for a domestic adoption.
Another difference is the wait involved once you complete your home study. The wait for domestic adoptions is typically 18-24 months. This is an average and it can be shorter or it can be longer. Because most agencies allow the Birthparents to choose an adoptive family, it is a matter of the right Birthparent coming along, clicking with you and choosing you. For international adoptions, you typically have a set period of time that you can expect to wait from the time you complete your paperwork until you receive a referral for your child from that country. This can be anywhere from 6 months to 2 years depending on which country you choose. International adoption offers you more of a definitive time line.
In a domestic adoption, many parents have their children placed with them directly from the hospital when they are just 2-3 days old. You get the whole newborn baby experience. In an international adoption, you can generally expect to not get a child much younger than 8 months old. You need to ask yourself how important it is for you to have your child from the beginning, from the time they are born or if you would be ok with an older infant. For many couples, this question is the deciding factor. If you cannot imagine not having the newborn experience, then international adoption is probably not the right choice for you.
In an international adoption, by the time you get your child, the Birthparents no longer have legal rights to the child whereas in a domestic adoption many couples do an at-risk placement which means when they get their child, the Birthparents’ parental rights are still in tact. Again, this can be a big deciding factor for couples who could not imagine doing an at-risk placement.
When you do an international adoption, be careful not to confuse termination of parental rights of the Birthparents with the idea that the Birthparents are “out of sight, out of mind” for your child. Just because they live half way around the world does not mean that your child will not have questions about their Birthparents and their heritage. I have had a few families tell me that they chose international adoption because they did not want the Birthparents to be a part of their child’s life. The reality is that their child’s history did not begin with adoption and their Birthparents will always be a part of their life in one for or another. International adoption does not make your child’s Birthparents disappear. This was not something that they had even considered until their children were older and began asking questions. I think it really blind sided them.
Age, number of children already in the home, number of years married and being single can all affect whether you can do a domestic or international adoption. Different domestic agencies and different countries have their own guidelines surrounding these issues and other issues. As you begin to explore both types of adoption more in depth, guidelines for these issues can be the deciding factor in what kind of adoption you do.
Anytime you do an international adoption, you are doing a transracial/transcultural adoption. You need to be prepared to incorporate your child’s heritage into your lives. You need to be prepared to deal with transracial issues in society. For instance, if you are a Caucasian family adoption domestically and you adopt a Caucasian child, there will not many questions asked if any at all. If you are a Caucasian family that adopts a child from China, there will be many questions asked and comments made. People can be nosy and people can be rude. You need to be sure that you live in a racially diverse community that will welcome your child.
As you continue exploring domestic and international adoption, please take these basic differences into account. Your feelings on these differences can greatly affect whichever path you take. Whether you want a newborn child, don’t mind to travel or live in a community that incorporates many cultures and races can be all you need to know to choose the type of adoption that works best for your family. In the end, you just want to make sure that you feel 100% comfortable with whichever type of adoption you choose. Once you choose the type of adoption to do, it is time to start searching for an agency or attorney so that you can begin your journey to your child.
This entry was posted on Friday, March 24th, 2006 at 5:42 am and is filed under Adoption. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.