Why would I adopt from another country when there are plenty of kids in the US who need homes?
Some families who are exploring their adoption options ask this very question. Isn’t there enough children in the US who need homes?
The answer to this is somewhat complicated. At any given time, there could be twenty prospective adoptive families waiting for a domestic adoption placement to every one birth mother who wishes to make an adoption plan for her baby. On the flip side, there are 20,000 teens in the US foster care system who need love and support, according to Adopt US Kids. On the www.AdoptUSKids.org photolists, there are currently 4,345 children from infants up to the age of 21 who are freed for adoption. Internationally, there are thousands of children who are available for adoption. Each country who supports intercountry adoption with the USA has varying rules, regulations, timelines and laws regarding the process.
The choice to adopt domestically, from the foster care system, or from another country is different for each family who decides to adopt. Each family is unique in their wants, needs, and what they believe they can handle. Each avenue of adoption has its own set of pros and cons which should be carefully considered.
In domestic adoption, the birth family chooses the prospective adoptive family. The birth mother, and birth father if he is involved, develop a relationship with the prospective adoptive parents. The baby is placed with the birth family immediately after birth. Domestic adoptions are most often open. The adoption can be as open or closed as the birth family desires. This usually involves sending the birth family pictures and letters as the child grows, and can include visits at intervals to be agreed upon. Many times, the birth mother & father become a part of the child’s life. The birth family and adoptive family work on a post-adoption contact agreement together.
Foster care adoptions are different than domestic infant adoptions in many ways. In most cases, the children available for adoption are not infants. The main goal of foster care is to reunite the biological family unit. When keeping the family together fails, then the birth parent’s rights are legally terminated and the children are freed for adoption. This all takes time, and it means that the children are often older when they are available for adoption. These children have experienced the trauma of being removed from their birth family, and many times have been victims of abuse and neglect. A family who wishes to adopt through the foster care system must be comfortable adopting older children and prepare themselves to parent a child who may have a history of trauma. In some cases, the child with have contact with their birth families. They may have siblings they wish to be able to visit often. A family adopting through the foster care system must be willing and able to support a child though all of these challenges and circumstances.
Another foster care option is becoming a foster parent. You can foster-to-adopt through the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. Being a foster parent is not a sure-fire way to become a parent, but it can be a very rewarding experience. Foster parents play a very important role in providing temporary, safe, and nurturing homes to children when their parents are not able to care for them. In some cases, the parental rights of your foster child's parents will be terminated. If this happens, OCFS will usually give you the option of adopting the child before they begin looking for a permanent family placement outside of your home. There are children who need foster care placements in every community. If you feel a calling to become a foster parent, you should absolutely learn more. You can find more information on the NYS OCFS website and at AdoptUSKids.org.
Some families rule out adoption via foster care because of the myths surrounding it. You can find the facts here. After learning about adoption via the foster care system, you may find that it is the right path for your family. Children never outgrow the need for a loving family, and adopting an older child or a teenager can be an amazing choice both for your family and for that child.
International adoption is a third adoption option. The children available for adoption internationally range in age from infants to teens. Many are abandoned at birth by their biological family, and many are victims of abuse or neglect as older children and placed in an orphanage. There are typical, healthy children as well as many children with special needs and developmental disabilities. Generally, parents wait longer for a healthy, typically developing child and wait less time for a child with special needs or developmental delays. If you are willing and able to parent a child with minor to major special needs and can’t see yourself waiting years and years for a child, adopting a special needs child can be a wonderful choice.
It is important for every prospective adoptive family to consider what they can offer their future child. If they adopt internationally, can they foster and support that child’s racial and cultural identity? If the child has special needs or developmental delays, can you learn how to best help your child with them? If you adopt via foster care, do you have the personal strength, experience and resources to parent an older child who may have experienced significant trauma? If you adopt domestically, are you comfortable having a relationship with the birth parents? There are many more questions to ask regarding each type of adoption, and an adoption social worker can give you the information and answers that you need to make the right decision for your family.