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4 Important Facts to Know About International Adoptions

Portrait of happy family with adopted children on moving day
Prospective parents choose international adoptions over domestic ones for many reasons. Some of those reasons are practical, such as up-front fee structures and scheduling. Other reasons are more personal, such as a desire to help children orphaned by a natural disaster or to raise an interracial family. Whatever your reason, international adoption is a valid option for growing your family.

Below are four important considerations to know about international adoption before you move forward.

1. You Must Choose an Agency that Specializes in International Adoptions

You essentially need a team to help you complete an international adoption. An attorney who specializes in international adoption should be part of that team, but you'll also need the help of an international adoption service provider.

The most important step in hiring an adoption service provider is conducting research. Unfortunately, too many families have fallen victims to scams. For example, fraudulent agencies may require pre-payment for a non-existent child. Your adoption attorney can help your find a reputable agency.

You'll also want to ensure the adoption service provider works with the country you wish to adopt from. You should research their license to ensure they don't have a history of complaints. Likewise, the agencies must disclose all their policies and practices to you. This includes fees and payment schedules.

2. Health Reports May Be Incomplete

Countries vary widely in the type and amount of information they provide about the adoptive child's health. Some countries only provide general health information, such as height and weight. Other countries may offer the child's full medical history. Unfortunately, sometimes the reports are also unreliable.

You'll want to go over any medical information with a pediatrician who's experienced with international adoptions. They'll know what to look for in the reports. For example, they'll know that head size and growth rate can indicate the health level of a child. Medical issues such as malnutrition and fetal alcohol exposure can affect head size and growth rate.

Incomplete health reports shouldn't deter you from adopting the child. You'll simply want to prepare yourself in case the adopted child requires more medical attention or develops special needs.

3. International Adoptions Require More Paperwork and Travel

You probably realize adopting internationally means you'll have to travel. However, international adoptions can take up to three years to complete. You may have to travel to the country of origin several times to complete the adoption and to start bonding with the child.

All adoptions require a lot of paperwork — that's part of the reason you need a service provider and an attorney. But international adoptions add an additional layer of paperwork. In addition to any visas you need for travel, you'll also need to provide documentation to both the United States and the child’s country of origin.

In addition to the pre-adoption paperwork, you'll need to complete immigration for the child. Your adopted child will need to become a U.S. citizen, and you cannot delay this process because that could affect the child's future.

4. Some Countries Require Post-Adoption Reports

Many countries want to ensure the placement of their children with American families was truly beneficial. To that end, they may require post-adoptive reports. These reports may be filled out by the adoptive parents or adoption service providers — the country of origin makes the distinction. The length of the reporting ranges from a few months to several years.

In some cases, you'll be required to set up an appointment with a social worker or with the adoption service providers. They'll assess how the children are integrating into the family as well as their overall development. In other cases, you'll be responsible for completing the paperwork yourself.

While the country of origin cannot rescind your adoption, failure to complete the post-adoption reports can still have consequences. If enough adoptive parents fail to file the reports, the countries may start implementing restrictions for new potential adoptive parents.

While international adoption is an involved process, you can grow your family and help a child in need. Let the Law Office of Adebimpe Jafojo, P.C. help you with the legal side of international adoption. Contact us today for more information.