How does international child adoption work?

By: Contributors

Many families looking to adopt turn to other countries to find a child. Often this is because it can be difficult to find an infant for adoption in the U.S. whereas a variety of other countries, especially in the former Soviet Union, Africa and Asia, have many children who need a home. Often families who adopt from these countries also see it as a way of providing a stable home for a child who is endangered in his or her own country.

Those wishing to adopt internationally must fulfill the legal requirements of the child's country of origin as well as both state and federal U.S. requirements. The processes are slightly different depending on whether you are adopting from a country that is a signatory to the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption or not. You will need to make contact with an adoption agency (accredited, in the case of Hague Convention adoptions) that will help you through the process. You will need to start with a home study, which will check that you are eligible to adopt. Remember that different countries have different eligibility requirements; for instance, in the U.S. single people and unmarried couples are considered eligible, but this may not be the case in other countries. There may be questions of eligibility depending on income, age, disability, religion, race and sexual orientation. The adoption agency should know what the country's guidelines are. Convention adoptions also require prospective parents to complete at least 10 hours of pre-adoption training.


At some point in the process you will need to travel to the child's country, and you may be there for some time. You may be required to undergo further suitability tests there, and if a child has not already been selected, you will have to go through the process of finding a suitable, available child. There must be proof that the child is an orphan or that its birth family is unable to provide for it and has given their consent to adoption. There will be legal formalities to be completed, and you will need to obtain a visa to bring your child home.