The Start of a Life Long Journey

Estimates are that more than 250,000 people consider adoption each year (Hollinger, pg. 17). That leads to people thinking about domestic or international adoption. When bringing a new member into the family through adoption it can be challenging to choose between going domestic or international. Accessing the factors of openness, medical history, cost, time, age and legality are all significant to look at when making that decision. I would argue that domestic adoption is the smarter choice in today’s day in age.

The level of openness that a family wishes to have with the birth parents is a large factor when deciding to go domestic or international. There are a variety of types, to include stepparent, independent, agency, foster care, intercountry, open and closed (O’Donnell, pg. 49). There are three main levels of openness, with some grey in-between. There are confidential, semi-open, and open adoptions. Confidential is where there is no contact with the birth parents and no identifying information shared. Most international adoption leads to a closed, confidential transaction. However, adoption should not be a onetime transaction, as it is a forever journey for the family. Then there is the semi-open adoption where there is indirect contact and non-identifying information such as medical history shared. Lastly there is open adoptions which involve direct communication and exchanging identifying information. The level of information that is known and shared, can be harder to come by in international adoptions.

Medical information can be important and helpful to know your new family member is growing up. When coming from an international adoption the adoption agency may not know who the mother and father are, or maybe only little information is know, this can make things difficult if medical problems do occur. Since genetics makes up much of our medical and health outcomes, knowing that information can lead to a healthier life. However, this can also happen in a domestic adoption, it is more likely that a domestic adoption will be an open or semi-open adoption. Even if a domestic adoption is a closed adoption it may be easier to access the prior medical records through the states.

The medical history is important to know when considering the cost. Adopting a child that has a known medical condition could require medical expenses on top of the adoption cost. The average cost of raising a child to age 17 is 233,610 dollars according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Kess, pg. 69). Addition to the cost of raising a child the average cost of a domestic adoption can range from 20,000-35,000 dollars while international adoption can range from 25,000 to 55,000 dollars. This price range is large due to so many different avenues that can be taken for adoption. There are private adoptions between the adopting parents, the child’s birth family and lawyer. There are also adoptions through an agency, which can be both open or closed options. For domestic adoption, there is also the option of fostering a child in hopes of adoption.

Fostering a child is a great avenue to go for perspective parents who may not have that kind of money to adopt internationally. This is where you foster a child, for weeks up to years, until the parental rights have been terminated and the adoption process can be finalized. “Since 1980, U.S. states have begun to offer adoption subsidies to offset some of these expenses, significantly lowering the cost of adopting a child who is in the foster care system” (Argys, pg. 947). However, the downside of fostering is that the parental rights may not be terminated, and the child has the potential to be taken back by the parents or given to a next of kin or other family member. This can be extremely hard on a family who is fostering in hopes of adopting. This can also take a longer period of time as fostering can lead up to years.

From the time you decide that adoption is right for you, it can take years to physically be able to bring your new family member home. In international adoptions time can include the process of the child being deemed eligible for adoption by the birth country, court visits in the child’s birth country, as well as trips to the country to meet the parents if it is an open adoption. When thinking domestic adoption time can include the length of fostering a child, the rest of the duration of the mother’s pregnancy, and or the time it takes to go through the complex process.

In domestic adoption, there is the option of adopting a newborn, while that option is highly limited in international adoption. Domestically there is the pathway of finding a woman who is currently carrying a child and wanting to put it up for adoption right from birth. This is the best option if wanting a newborn is a top priority. When adopting internationally you are more likely to be able to adopt a young toddler to a child or even teen. This is due to the birth country needing to clear the child for adoption which can take up to months. The process of clearing the child for adoption includes trying to find an adoptive parent or next of kin in the child’s birth country.

The age of the parent or parents also matters when adopting. The general age range of adopting parents in the United States is between 25-52 (Leinaweaver, pg. 509). Many countries prefer to keep the age range between the adoptee and the parents below 40, though that does not mean if the age gap is more than 40 you cannot adopt internationally. The Hague Convention states that any person under the age of 18 cannot adopt a child, even if they have independent and or emancipated. Not only does the age matter but the marital status also matters. A single parent would most likely not be able to adopt internationally, as most countries require that there are two parents who have been together and show stability in their relationship. Domestically there is a greater chance of being able to adopt as a single parent, however you still have to show financial stability.

The Hague Convention is a multi-country agreement that covers the legal bases of adoptions. The process of adoption domestically or internationally is complex with a lot of laws and paper work along the way. The Hague Conventions goal is to prevent the abduction, sale of, or trafficking in children. It also works to ensure that intercountry adoptions are in the best interests for the children (Stark, Pg. 20). The Convention is there as a resource to ensure transparency in the process of adoption as well as added protection for the adopting parents and the child.

In recent years, more and more children from other countries are adopted by people in the US; more than 8,000 such children enter the country each year from Asia, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe (Hostetter, pg. 481). When considering adoption think about the level of openness you would prefer, the cost, time, age, and laws. These are all of importance to contemplate when adding a new member to your family.

Works Cited

  1. Argys, Laura, and Brian Duncan. “Economic Incentives and Foster Child Adoption.” Demography, vol. 50, no. 3, June 2013, pp. 933–954. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s13524- 012-0166-0.
  2. Hollinger, Joan Heifetz, and Naomi Cahn. ‘Forming families by law: adoption in America today.’ Human Rights, Summer 2009, p. 16+. Expanded Academic ASAP, c&sid=EAIM&xid=bb68052c.
  3. Hostetter, Margaret K., et al. ‘Medical evaluation of internationally adopted children.’ The New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 325, no. 7, 1991, p. 479+. Expanded Academic ASAP, 4511e4a.
  4. Kess, Sidney, et al. ‘Planning for a New Child in the Family.’ The CPA Journal, Mar. 2018, p. 69+. Expanded Academic ASAP, ultc&sid=EAIM&xid=e5fc15a0.
  5. Leinaweaver, Jessaca. “Geographies of Generation: Age Restrictions in International Adoption.” Social & Cultural Geography, vol. 16, no. 5, Aug. 2015, pp. 508–521. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/14649365.2014.994669.
  6. O’Donnell, Laura A. ‘The client’s chosen child: adoption laws, regulations, and processes for the legal assistance attorney.’ Army Lawyer, May 2015, p. 48+. Expanded Academic ASAP, c&sid=EAIM&xid=e47e1095.
  7. Stark, Barbara. ‘When Genealogy Matters: Intercountry Adoption, International Human Rights, and Global Neoliberalism.’ Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Jan. 2018, p. 159+. Expanded Academic ASAP, ultc&sid=EAIM&xid=ade52e86.
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