International Adoption of Infants

There are many reasons to adopt children, for each of them there might be different circumstances, but one thing remains the same, the parameters of the adoption and legality of it. We wanted to find out the answers to some specific questions pertaining to the international adoption of infants, so we decided to take a closer look.

Can you adopt an infant internationally? You can, however the laws are very strict on infant adoption overseas. This is called intercountry adoption, the process of adopting a child from another county besides your own. There are different sets of laws and regulations for each country. It has become increasingly harder in recent years to adopt infants under the age of 12 months, with more challenges and criteria to meet than before.

International Adoption of Infants

This is in part due to the wait time, as well as the process which can involve 1 – 2 trips to the child’s home country and sometimes even years. Some countries just simply don’t have enough healthy infants and have a limit of infants per country that can complete the adoption process.

This often exceeds the age of the child, the process itself taking longer than the 12 months of the child’s infant stage.

The most common countries for international adoption are: China, Russia, Guatemala and South Korea, a few more to note are, India, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Philippines, and Colombia.

It is easier to adopt infants from newer countries that have more underdeveloped adoption laws.

Waiting Times and Length of Adoption Process for Infants Internationally

This is the tricky part of adopting a child under 12 months from another country other than your own, the wait and added process time. There can be very long waiting lists for healthy infants, some countries require you to wait years for the process, along with multiple visits and meetings abroad.

Most countries also prefer to pursue every option to keep the infants in their own families which can take time and welfare resources.

The length of the process is different in every country. For instance, it can take up to 6 years to adopt an infant from Armenia and they allow very few each year to the US.

While some countries such as South Korea take up to 36 months and other, sending countries, as little as 18 months, they can have added stipulations such as spending time with the infant’s family and agreeing to have them in the child’s life.

In Korea infants don’t return to their parents or family until 18 to 30 months of care.

The ethical reasons that a person adopts can come into play as well, as it takes time to document and prove that you are adopting for the right reasons.

Eligibility to Adopt Infants Internationally

There are many parts of eligibility to consider for adopting children internationally, ranging from paperwork to conditions like the age of the parents and criminal history

It starts with forms concerning immigration, citizenship and other government documents. Other forms also differ depending on if you are adopting from a Hague convention country or non-Hague convention country.

You are required to be at least 25 years of age and if you are married, in some countries, they have a minimal amount of years you have to be married, which you have to provide proof of with documentation.

Some countries even require that you must be married before being considered, and when going through the process both parents must take custody and share the paperwork and filings.

The parents must also be fingerprinted and pass an FBI background check before being eligible for adopting children internationally.

Filing fees alone (not counting the adoption fee) are also a consideration and can run upwards of $600-$1000 as well as a fee for each person who is living in your home and above the age of 18.

If you follow all the criteria, and do your due process it is possible to adopt an infant internationally.

A Closer Look at the Adoption Process

The international adoption of infants (intercountry adoption of an infant) has a longer process than domestic adoptions.

The international Hague court passed a convention for the protection of children and cooperation in respect to intercountry adoption. This set the bar internationally for what is allowed and not allowed to a higher standard.

One of the biggest rules of this convention is that every effort must be made for the child to be placed in a home of its country of origin before they can be adopted by a family in the US.

Some of the countries within the Hague Convention:

BulgariaBurkina Faso
CanadaCabo Verde
ChileChina (and Hong Kong)
ColombiaCote d’Ivoire
Costa RicaCroatia
Czech RepublicDenmark
Dominican RepublicEcuador
El SalvadorEstonia

Find the complete list here.

Another key point in the convention is that every country who is party to the convention must become a central authority in their country for intercountry adoption of children and infants. This helps rule out human trafficking and other unethical forms of child placement.

International Adoption of Infants

The international adoption process starts before the actual adoption. The family who is looking to adopt must decide if this longer more costly form of adoption is right for them.

That’s where domestic vs international adoption comes into play. It is much easier to adopt an infant domestically than it is to internationally.

If you are looking to adopt internationally there some things to consider, such as:

  • Time off from work for travel (You must make at least one trip to the country you wish to adopt from sometimes multiple trips.)
  • You have to be willing to wait long periods of time to get paired with a healthy baby and situation.
  • Sometimes adopting an infant internationally leaves you without proper medical history of a child or of its family history.
  • Many times, internationally you are dealing with orphanages and other care givers after all options of family placement are exhausted.

Post adoption is also a consideration of the total process because you have to then acquire a visa for the child to live in the US and complete immigration and citizenship requirements.

The laws themselves must all be all be observed and adhered to for intercountry adoption and usually fall under 3 sets of laws, U.S. Federal laws, the laws of the child’s country of origin, and the state laws in which the family resides.

There is also a home study of the family wishing to adopt to determine if the family is suitable for international adoption. This is usually done by an accredited adoption agency.

The adoption agency often provides a lot of the information and paperwork that is needed to secure an adoption internationally.

It is possible to adopt infants internationally as we have found out, and if you are considering that type of adoption you will want to research different adoption agencies and the help they provide, concerning the whole process including the finalization.

One of the longest standing countries open to intercountry adoption is China, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, about half or 51% of internationally adopted children into the U.S. are from Asian countries.

Other Asian countries can be more difficult especially for infant adoptions such as Japan, since they are a first world country and need the population growth, but it’s not all together impossible.

Video: U.S. Family Adopting From Japan

The U.S. has the most international adoptions out of all other countries.

One final consideration of the adoption process is the religion of the families wishing to adopt and the child, in countries such as Pakistan the parents must be Muslim, and married, though this isn’t a requirement in every Muslim country.

Related Questions

What is the total price of international adoption? The price can vary depending on the country the child is located, and how many trips are required for the adoption. Usually, the travel amount is added to the total cost projected by the adoption agency. For an infant child intercountry adoption, you should be prepared to pay in the range of 20-$60,000.

What are the age requirements for international adoptions? Depending on the country, 25 to 40 years of age is required. Sometimes age is a factor in deciding how old the child you adopt can be, pairing older children with older adults.

Chad Kilpatrick

A freelance writer passionate about adoption and helping to find children in need a forever home.

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