What’s an international adoption agency?
If you’re pursuing international adoption, there are quite a few organizations that are going to be involved. The one that you will have the most contact with is your international adoption agency. After you’ve chosen a country to adopt from, you’ll be able to choose from the Hague-accredited adoption agencies that are authorized to help you complete an adoption in that area.
What does it mean to be Hague-accredited? This means that, per the Hague Adoption Convention, all Hague-compliant countries must have an authority that oversees international adoptions and makes sure the international treaty is being adhered to. The measure was put in place to protect children who are adopted internationally from child trafficking as well as give them better access to records and certificates. Even if the country you wish to adopt from isn’t Hague-compliant, your international adoption agency must be, per the Universal Accreditation Act. This ensures that everyone providing international adoption services adheres to the same ethical standards.
What services does an international adoption agency offer?
The best international adoption agencies offer many services. These should include:
- Guiding you through the entire adoption process. International adoption can be tricky, but there should never be a time when you don’t understand exactly what’s going on — and what’s coming next.
- Help with putting together you dossier, which is a collection of documents you’ll need to complete an international adoption. For everything that goes into a dossier, check out this article by Considering Adoption.
- Communicating with the country from which you’re adopting. They’ll also help you complete the necessary steps with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
- Completing a home study or helping you to find a trusted professional who can complete one for you. Anyone who adopts must have a completed home study, but this can be trickier for families adopting internationally. The U.S. Department of State’s website lists international home study requirements here.
- Any necessary post-adoption services.
Pros and Cons of Working with International Adoption Agencies
The benefits of building families through international adoption are largely the same as the general positives associated with adoption. These include:
- Depending on the country you choose to adopt from, you may experience a shorter wait time.
- There are generally plenty of children waiting to be adopted by forever families, which isn’t always the case with domestic adoption.
- You’re building a family! This is always a pro for any type of adoption.
There are, however, potential negatives associated with even the best rated international adoption agencies, whether those are Chinese adoption agencies, African adoption agencies, adoption agencies in India or anywhere else. These might be:
- Traveling for international adoption can be expensive.
- There’s no guarantee that you’ll receive access to your child’s medical history.
- It’s unusual that a birth family would remain in contact with a child and their adoptive family after adoption takes place. Not only does this rule out access to birth parents in the event that health questions arise, but this also means your child won’t receive all the benefits associated with open adoption.
- Frequently, children adopted through international adoption agencies are older, which means they may speak a different language and be accustomed to a different way of life. Adjusting to your culture may take time.
Costs Associated with International Adoption Agencies
International adoption agencies generally provide an estimated total adoption cost that’s somewhere in the realm of $25,000 to $50,000, which is similar to domestic adoption costs. However, this doesn’t factor in travel or staying in the country you’re adopting from. Depending on the country, that time period could last from a few days to a few weeks.
To help estimate what the actual final cost will be, it can be helpful to know what country you wish to adopt from and carefully research the travel requirements for that country. If you need to factor in flights, hotels and food for three weeks, that’s naturally going to add quite a bit to your total adoption cost.
Who uses an international adoption agency?
There’s never a specific profile to describe parents adopting through any type of agency. However, many families who decide to use international adoption agencies:
- Don’t care about the age of the child they’re adopting
- Want to raise a child who comes from a different culture
- Don’t wish to remain in contact with the birth parents of the child they adopt
- Value the more predictable wait times and total costs associated with international adoption
- Are ready to face the obstacles associated with an unknown medical history
If you’re interested in pursuing international adoption, the first step, as we stated earlier, is to choose the country you wish to adopt from. The next step is to choose an international adoption agency. We recommend checking out this list provided by the Bureau of Consular Affairs, which lists all accredited international adoption agencies. From there, you can narrow your search down to professionals by state.