Domestic or Intercountry Adoption?

One of the first decisions many prospective adoptive parents make is whether to adopt a child from the United States or from another country. Some considerations in deciding between domestic and intercountry adoption may be how you feel about parenting a child whose background differs from your own and how you feel about potential involvement of the child's birth parents.

Domestic Adoption

Children adopted domestically often (though certainly not always) have more in common with their adoptive parents in terms of racial and ethnic background. Whether you adopt an infant or an older child, the potential also exists for some degree of contact between your family and the child's birth family after the adoption (referred to as "openness"). Even if the adoption is not open, persons adopted domestically may have an easier time locating their birth families if they decide to search as adults.

Intercountry Adoption

Birth parent involvement is less likely in an intercountry adoption. In order for children to achieve orphan status (and be eligible for adoption) in many countries, the birth parents must have died or "abandoned" them. In these cases, search for birth families as an adult can be more difficult and, in many cases, impossible.

Strict immigration requirements apply to adoptions of children from other countries. It is important to choose a licensed, knowledgeable organization for intercountry adoptions because the process is often lengthy and complex. Expenses for this type of adoption include agency fees as well as transportation, legal, and medical costs. Total costs can range from $7,000 to $30,000 or more, but they are generally predictable.

While intercountry adoption can be more expensive than domestic adoption (particularly adoption from foster care), the wait for an infant or younger child is generally more predictable than in domestic infant adoption (depending on the country and agency).