A Helpful Guide to International Adoption

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It is often a difficult, emotional and confusing journey through the process of international adoption.  Once you have jumped through one hoop, there seems to always be another waiting for you.  And although the hoops are necessary, it is comforting to have information of which to refer.

Some frequently asked questions encompass the differences in the types of adoptions.  International adoption laws differ from country to country.  For a child to be eligible for an international adoption program, he/she must qualify under the laws of their country of origin.  You must comply with U.S. federal laws and the laws of your home state to be even considered to adopt.  U.S. Federal law does not prohibit Americans to adopt regardless of age, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, or income; various international agencies however, do often restrict those who have developmental or physical disabilities, single parents, or even those with a lower income.  For children abroad to come to the United States, you must determine if they are eligible to immigrate under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act.

Types of adoption processes differ as well.  If you travel abroad and at one of the family owned and run facilities you feel a deep connection to one of the children and you want to bring this into your home and ultimately, your family, this type of international adoption is independent and usually places all of the weight of the adoption process on your shoulders.  Depending on the kind of adoption you chose, the more or less likely you will encounter ethics and high standards in the adoption process.  Further, depending on the kind of adoption you chose, the more or less likely you are to be exposed to better costs, children’s health and facilitator competence.

Building from various laws to types of adoption, the actual process of adopting your child can again be, a confusing process on your journey in expanding your family.  There are more players in the adoption process than you may expect.  Your family and the parent(s) of the child, professional agencies, attorneys, adoption specialists, and licensing specialists are some of the players you need to be aware of.  Nationally or internationally, the business and personal ethics of each player spreads across the board.

The application process is essential for the adoption to be successful, and  regardless of the type of adoption you chose, one thing remains the same: the placement home study.  A home study is basically a series of appointments with an adoption professional.  After you find an agency within the United States to work with your international adoption, a local caseworker is assigned to your individual case.  Usually there is a minimum of four visits (depending on the state and/or country) between you and your assigned caseworker.

Out of all the decisions, applications, visits, and international laws and so on, the most agonizing part of the adoption process is usually the waiting game.  It can take between months and years or more for a family to receive a referral on a child.  After approval, it takes time for you and your future child to be matched.  Time is dependant upon the race, origin, other county’s laws, U.S. immigration laws, developmental disabilities, age, and etc.  This process has been compared to a biological family’s pregnancy period.  Each time a child is matched, it is an emotional “pregnancy test” for those waiting.  Once approved, its been described as a metaphorical “labor.’  If the child match falls through, the description is an even more emotional “miscarriage.”    Even with the pressures of your emotional roller coaster, your are expected to keep up with the expectations your state, country and country of your potential child.  f you do not receive your referral or your matched child within a year, the previously mentioned placement home study must be renewed every twelve months.

After the waiting and the arrival of your newest family member, there are obligations you are responsible for.  A minimum of three more visits (depending on the sate and/or country) are required. Nutrition, childhood development, emotional issues, discussing the adoption and education are only a few of the subjects you will encounter.  For international adoption, more pressing matters include culture shock and communication difficulties.

There are many hoops to jump through in the adoption process.  Many of those hoops will most likely be wrought with confusion if you do not have the proper resources to help on your journey to adopt a child.  Thus, there is a need for a guide to be written, not only to fill the literary gap in detailed adoption information, but also to educate society on the importance of international adoption as well as the importance of the legitimate people who work to make life a little easier for those attempting to understand the adoption process.

About the Author

Karen Hood was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana.  As an undergraduate, she attended the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota, and St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota.  She attended the University of Great Falls in Great Falls, Montana.  Hood received a B.S. Degree in Natural Science from the College of St. Benedict and minored in both Psychology and Secondary Education.  Upon her graduation, Hood and her husband taught science and math on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Hood has completed postgraduate classes at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa.  In May 2001, she completed her Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.  She has taken postgraduate classes at Lewis and Clark College on the North Idaho college campus in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Taylor University in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Hood is working on research projects to complete her Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.

Karen Hood is also an avid child advocate.  She works with children as a foster parent in the State of Washington as well as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer in the juvenile court system in Spokane County.  Hood and her husband have a strong passion to fight for the plight of abused and neglected children and the rights of all children on a local, national, and international level.  Hood is also Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) and a CASA volunteer for abused and neglected children in the juvenile court system.  Hood is an advocate of literacy for children and has written many articles and books on this subject.  She also has written many articles on the rights of children and is currently working on books about the plight of children.

For more information, you can contact the author at her office below:

Karen Jean Matsko Hood

507 N. Sullivan Rd. Suite LL-7

Spokane Valley, WA 99037 USA

Phone: (509) 924-3550 Fax: (509) 922-9949



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