Monday, September 29, 2008

International or Domestic Adoption?

The number of international adoptions continued to decline in 2007. While the State Department reported that adoptions from countries such as China and Russia rose between 1993 and 2005, recent restrictions from overseas adoption agencies have caused the rate of international adoptions to go down. With over 114,000 children in the United States still living under foster care, perhaps it is time to turn our attention closer to home. It is important to consider some of the undeserved myths and overlooked benefits of adopting domestically.

Access to your child’s medical and social history is essential in order to adequately address special needs such as exposure to drugs and alcohol in babies or attachment disorders in older children. Medical records and foster agencies will provide all of this information for domestic children, while information on children from overseas is often not available at all. It is commonly believed that agencies in other countries are desperate to get rid of orphaned children and will therefore adopt them more cheaply and quickly than children in the United States. This is also untrue, as the costs and waiting periods for typical international and domestic adoptions are very similar. Fears concerning an adopted child’s biological parents reclaiming them are also unsubstantiated; any domestic adoption requires the birth family to relinquish their parental rights through a legal process and in most cases a foster child is already legally free.

This is not to say that children in other countries do not desperately need parents too. It is essential for every potential adoptive parent to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of adopting domestically and to clarify many of the myths that contribute to so many American children remaining in foster care.

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