Adoption can be daunting. There is a process, paperwork, waiting, emotions, etc. For many, International adoption may seem even more daunting than a domestic adoption. You are having to deal with not one, but two country’s requirements and bureaucracies and there is lots of paperwork. That being said, when each step is taken one at a time, the process of international is not as daunting as it may seem. Here are some facts to know when considering or pursuing an international adoption:
- You must have a source or placing agency. This is an agency that is Hague Accredited (for most countries) that is “licensed” to facilitate adoptions out of specific countries. There are many wonderful placing agencies throughout the country. A source or placing agency is a requirement as you can no longer proceed with independent international adoptions.
- You may also need to have a home study/post placement agency. So you have found your source agency, but there is one problem: you live in one state and the source agency is located in a different state and is not able to provide your home study and post placement services for you. This is really not a problem. There are many agencies who are able to provide these for you (I call them the bookend agencies). They sign an agreement with your source agency and you are on your way.
- There is a lot of paperwork. Be ready. You will have paperwork that your home study agency requires you to fill out (if you have one). You will have paperwork that your source agency requires you to fill out. You will have paperwork that you need to complete for immigration. You will have paperwork that you need to complete for your dossier (the packet that is sent to the country on your behalf). The best advice I can give is to stay organized. Get binders, folders, boxes, etc. whatever you find the easiest. Make sure that you keep copies of everything for yourself.
- You will need to work with USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). USCIS will give you the initial okay to adopt a child from whatever country you are planning to adopt from. You will then have to file secondary paperwork once you are referred a child to have approval to adopt that specific child and bring them to the United States.
- You will wait. Waiting is the name of the game in adoption. There is no way around it. Some countries there is very little communication until the day you receive your referral. While this can be frustrating, it is part of the process and something that it is important to mentally prepare yourself for before you begin.
- You will need to travel to your child’s country. You will need to travel to the child’s country of origin to pick up and bring your child home. Some exceptions can be made with some countries where only one parent needs to travel, but for the most part, it is expected that both adopting parents (if a married couple) will be traveling. Take that time to soak up your experiences in that country. Buy artwork, knick-knacks, music, or other things that you can have in your home to celebrate your child’s culture.
- You will need post-adoption supervision. The process does not end once the child is home. Every country will require a certain number of post-adoption visits by a social worker. Use these visits to share about the triumphs but also to be honest about the challenges. Your social worker is there to be a support to you and he/she is not a mind reader and cannot give assistance or guidance unless you are open about things.
- International Adoption will change your life. Don’t get too bogged down in the processes, bureaucracy, etc. You are doing this for a child and for your family. While the road may have bumps in it you are forever changing a child’s life and every step along the way is well worth it to get to the day when you are able draw that child into a hug.