Domestic Versus International Adoption 101

The decision to bring a child into a family is a life-altering one, but it’s even more so for families that choose adoption. The myriad of questions seems endless, and a basic one that couples need to answer is if they will do a domestic versus international adoption. We’ve provided an Adoption 101 on the these types of adoption.

There are two kinds of adoption: Domestic and International. In Domestic cases, American newborns or foster children are available for adoption. Prospective parents can work with an adoption agency or private attorney. Agencies will typically do most of the “work” for the prospective parents. Couples hoping to adopt must create a profile. Birth mothers will examine different profiles carefully before selecting the couple. They will do a home study (which involves the agency examining the adoptive parent’s relationship, home life, and child rearing plans). They will assist in matching would-be parents with a birth mother. Finally, they will also do any post-placement visits that are required after a couple brings the baby home.

Attorneys that specialize in adoption are an alternative to going through an agency. Prospective parents have to do their own “advertising” to find a child. They may leave information at OB/GYN offices or put ads in newspapers.  Attorneys are more used if the prospective parents already know the child they hope to adopt (for example, in cases where a family member adopts a child, or in private arrangements made between a couple and the birth mother). A social worker is still called upon to do a home study in these situations.

International adoptions work slightly differently. Each country has their own rules regarding ages of children that can be adopted, household income requirements, lengths of time that the adoptive family must stay in the child’s country before being permitted to take the child home and more. Numerous governing bodies are involved in the adoption of a foreign-born child. Families interested in international adoptions should research the agency to ensure its legitimacy.

If a family hopes to adopt, a recommendation to an agency or attorney is a good first step. Online support groups and message boards allow parents to share information and support each other through the occasionally frustrating but ultimately rewarding process.

Online Support Groups/Message Boards:

Long Island Families



By Rachel Minkowsky

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