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How Do I Adopt A Child From Another Country?

How Do I Adopt A Child From Another Country?

Have you ever thought about or considered adopting a child from another country? For many prospective adoptive parents, the idea of international adoption can seem overwhelming if not impossible; however, it is possible! By taking the time to first understand what international adoption is, researching the necessary steps (domestic and international), and finding the support and resources you will need to work through your journey—you very well may be the perfect candidate to become a family to a waiting child!

The Children

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, there are approximately 153 million orphans worldwide. Every day, an estimated 5,700 more children become orphans. Due to circumstances beyond their control, many of these children find themselves in tough situations living on the streets, unprotected and exposed to the realities and difficulties of homelessness.

In some countries, orphaned children are exploited, abused, and forced to join the militia. Of course, with poverty comes hunger, disease, and illness due to lack of proper medical care, and oftentimes, premature death. The lucky ones may find themselves in an institutional or orphanage setting. And while orphanages historically tend to carry bad reputations for maltreatment, child trafficking, and inadequate care as a result of political corruption, lack of funds, or mismanagement, many children will call these places home for most of their young lives before eventually being turned out to the street when they come of age.

At the same time, there are many good orphanages and foundations that provide excellent care, going above the basics to provide children with love, education, physical and therapeutic services, and hope—thanks to partnerships with government agencies and private donations. Children in these settings can thrive and often consider their caretakers and peers as family. In recent years, many countries have made strides to support biological families in order to keep the family unit together when possible by providing financial assistance, education, job training, and shelter if/when domestic abuse is occurring. And while international adoption has become more of a last result because of this, it is still recognized as the only option for many children who do not have immediate or extended relatives able or willing to take them in, but who deserve the unconditional love of a forever family regardless of geography.

Ask the Hard Questions Before You Begin

Ask yourself—what is adoption? What is international adoption? Is it right for me? What will it mean for me? What will it mean for my family? What will it mean for the adopted child?

It may sound silly, but the fact is, we don’t know what we don’t know and while adoption can sound like a wonderful opportunity for you to grow your family, like everything else we do in life, it is complicated and life-changing for all parties involved. In truth, adoption is a wonderful opportunity for families who are open to it and for the many children who have no other options and may spend months or years in an institution as a result.

Deciding if International Adoption is Right for Your Family

There are many differences between domestic and international adoption. Some of these include:
• General requirements such as age of parent, marital status, home study, and background checks.
• Age of children available for adoption
• Wait times
• Access to background or social history
• Travel
• Missed work
• Cost

In addition, part of adopting a child from another country is the understanding that you are adopting all of the child, including their roots, culture, and traditions that made up their history before they met you—making sure that you are willing to honor these pieces of your child. And while, for the most part, international adoption is still closed adoption so far as availability to biological family records and social history, you need to respect the fact that your adopted child may someday wish to search for biological family members and learn more about where they came from.

Choosing a Country

Prospective parents often have an idea of where they might like to adopt from based on research or word of mouth from family or friends who have also adopted a child from another country. You should know that just like stateside adoption, where each state has its own set of requirements and processes, so do different countries.

Parents should compare different adoption programs in several countries in order to determine from which country to adopt. Eligibility requirements to consider include age, marital status, sexual orientation, family size, parents’ health, and religion.

Finding an Adoption Service Provider

Next, you will want to do some research, and by some, I mean a lot of research in order to find an adoption service provider or agency to help you through the process, both the domestic side of things and the international side. In addition to reaching out to local providers and internet searches, a great way to determine which agency may be the best for your situation is to reach out and talk to other adopting families who have already been in your shoes. Through their experience, they should have a good relationship with their service provider (if not, there’s a reason for that) and may be able to point you in the right direction to make a good choice.

Make sure to ask the right questions of a potential provider to ensure they are reputable, experienced, and qualified (and are who they say they are) before you begin your relationship. Providers should have no problem answering your questions and in fact, should be expecting you to have lots of questions over the course of your journey. If you get the sense that something is amiss, it’s perfectly fine to end your relationship (the sooner the better). Most of all, whomever you choose should demonstrate that they have your best interest and the best interest of the child you are hoping to adopt at heart in an ethical and legal manner.

An “inter-country” adoption occurs when you adopt a child from another country legally and then bring that child to your home country to live with you permanently. In the United States, thousands of inter-country adoptions take place each year. The process for adopting a child from abroad will differ depending on the state in which you live and the country where the child comes from.

How To Properly Discuss The Option Of Adopting A Child

Most couples in Utah get married in the hope of having their own children later on. While not all would want to become parents, the majority do want to have kids to complete their family. What’s unfortunate sometimes is that couples very eager to have a child are not that blessed. Despite the many years of trying to conceive, they still fail owing to different factors. But then again, they still have an option which is to adopt a child. Many wives who are not able to conceive and are already hopeless in having their own biological child may readily consider adoption. They’re usually more open to this than the husbands. If you’re seriously considering this option, it’s vital that you as a couple discuss this first. It’s not an easy process and it may take quite some time before you can get approval because of the legalities involved. The thought of adopting a child often excites would-be parents. But it’s really very important that you consider the details that go with it because it’s not just about getting the child and enjoying his or her company in your home.

Child’s age. Think about the age of the child you want to adopt. Would you prefer a newly born or a child in his toddler years or a little bit older? Those who don’t have one yet usually want to get a baby to enable them to be hands on in caring for the newly born child. Those with children already may opt to adopt a child in his early years whichever they think would best fit into their family and their children’s ages. In the case of international adoption (adopting a child from another country), getting a newborn is not possible owing to the time it takes to accomplish the paperwork required.

The cost of adoption. Determine if you’re financially stable enough to afford the costs of adopting a child. The costs will depend on the fees charged by the agency and lawyer as well as the needs of the birth family and the travel expenses in transporting the child from his or her birthplace to the place of his adoptive parents. If you want to have an idea as to how much is involved, you can consult with adoption professionals with whom you can also work with.

Local or international adoption. Local adoption refers to adopting a child within your state or country. This is cheaper compared to international adoption because you can just adopt through your state’s foster care system.

Training on adoption. If you opt for the local adoption within your state, adoptive parents are normally required to attend an average of 25 hours of training classes. The classes are meant to prepare would-be parents for their responsibilities in child rearing.

Getting a Lawyer to Help With the Adoption Procedure

A substantial part of the adoption process is tied up with legal matters and adoption lawyers are a significant aspect in any adoption procedure. Anyone attempting this without a legal representative would find it almost impossible as they became tied up with legal matters for which they are not trained. The courts must be supplied with sufficient cause for the adoption; this means why the child is being allowed to be adopted or why the birth parents are relinquishing their legal responsibility. It is not uncommon for couples to try and complete this task themselves but in the interests of speed and efficiency it is much wiser to use the services of a professional lawyer, versed in adoption law and practice.

After twelve months, (usually) the child’s adoptive parents must attend a hearing which is part of the finalization process and for legal reasons it is better to be represented by a lawyer. An adoption agency will help the adoptive parents through this process as they can help with certain legal issues which are involved although an adoption lawyer would be useful to certify the documents are legal and intact.

International adoptions are of course more tricky as every country has its own individual laws relating to the adoption of children, so trying to arrange this without legal representation would be foolish. The language barrier is also present when dealing with this type of adoption and the chance of a couple being able to comprehend legal documents written in a foreign language is almost zero. Therefore, parents who try to proceed with adopting a child from another country on their own without the help of an adoption attorney able to translate foreign adoption papers would be facing an enormous task.

Of course one of the most important aspects is that of citizenship and registration which in all honesty could not be carried out by someone without legal training. Never underestimate just how important an adoption lawyer is; the skills, knowledge and experience in these matters they bring with them are immense. They are familiar with the legal issues related to the process and they are knowledgeable about loopholes and possible mistakes that are common in adopting a child. Even adoption agencies retain their own specialist adoption lawyers so that they are in a better position to service their clients. The facility of a retained adoption attorney can be a great benefit for a couple as this saves them the often difficult process of finding a lawyer of their own. However, unless the legal matters are addressed and taken care of properly, prospective parents may face problems with their adoption, so they provide peace of mind for the parents.

Types Of Adoption

So you have decided that you and your spouse are ready to adopt? You have the finances set aside; you have evaluated your motives for adopting and considered all of the pros and cons with your spouse. Now you need to be educated on the various types of adoption that are available to you. One of the forms of adoption is referred to as “Domestic Private”“. Another form of adoption that is available is known as “Inter-country adoption”. There are also the options of “kinship/relative adoption” and “Domestic Adoption from State Foster Care”.

Domestic Adoptions are facilitated through licensed adoption agencies, attorneys, adoption facilitators, or physicians, among other avenues. This type of adoption allows you to choose to adopt a child right from their families. In this case, the family of the child would typically choose the family that would later adopt the child. The current family and the future family will make decisions, together, to discuss how much contact the child will have with his or her biological family in the future.

The next type of adoption is known as “Inter-Country Adoption”. This form of adoption includes children who are citizens of one country, but their parents are citizens of another country. Since the governments of both countries will be involved with this form of adoption, it is wise to first look at the State Department website to make sure that country is currently permitting inter-country adoptions to the United States to take place.

Often, these children have been living in an orphanage. It is important that, if you do adopt a child from a culture that is not your own, you are sensitive to that culture and take the time to research the culture, language, food, among other things to ensure that your child will know where they came from to increase their sense of identity.

“Kinship/Relative Adoption” is another form of adoption that often takes place. This type of adoption refers to a family adopting a child through family ties or through a relationship that particular family has had with the child’s family. This includes children who are adopted by their stepmothers or stepfathers, grandparents, friends, teachers, etc., if their biological parents are unable to care for them. Licensed adoption professionals are still needed with this type of adoption to ensure that all legal requirements are being met, to make the adoption final.

Finally, the last type of adoption is “Domestic Adoption from State Foster Care”. These children will be adopted out of temporary foster care or welfare situations. Many instances of this type of adoption include numerous siblings that are looking for a home together. These children have often suffered many losses and do not know much about commitment. They will require more attention and commitment, so that they transition into a home that they know is permanent and safe. With these children, the state will often provide access to Medicaid for their medical needs and a subsidy to help fund tutoring, other education, camps and other activities that would aid in their transition to a permanent environment and help them to succeed.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506