Adoption is a wonderful way to build a family, and starting with a solid knowledge foundation is vital.
There are predictable timelines and expectations for international adoption. While home studies are conducted for both types, the process deviates considerably once the study is completed. With an international adoption, the family is placed on a traditional “waiting list,” and the adoption is put into motion once the family reaches the top of the list. With a domestic adoption, there are no traditional waiting lists. Rather, families create profiles, network, and market themselves (either privately or with an agency), in hopes of being selected by a birth parent. The family, with the help of an attorney or agency, must navigate the different laws of each state involved. As examples, some states prohibit advertising or prohibit private adoption; other states allow biological parents weeks after placement to change their minds, while others only give hours or days. Adoptive parents can adopt in months or years, depending on their profiles, marketing, and outreach, so the timing for a domestic adoption is unpredictable.
The age and information about the child being adopted
Adoptive parents can adopt in months or years, depending on their profiles, marketing, and outreach, so the timing for a domestic adoption is unpredictable.
Another key difference is the relationship with the child’s biological parents. In an international adoption, it is unlikely the adoptive parents will meet the child’s biological relatives; although, they may have an ongoing obligation through their agency to send an update to the child’s country of origin. Comparatively, most domestic adoptive parents meet the child’s biological parent(s), whether in person or over the phone. They may also have a post-adoption contact agreement allowing for pictures, letters, and updates as the child grows up. This involved relationship is in stark contrast to international adoption, so the legal landscape is different. Domestically, a family must be prepared to negotiate with the biological parent(s). The adoptive parent(s) must then abide by the terms of the agreement, often enforceable by a court.
There are many important differences on the path to parenthood through adoption. Learning about all the implications of the path chosen is a critical first step. Adoptive parents should meet with experienced professionals to get the facts and learn nuances about each avenue, and to understand what the road ahead will look like. Adoption is a wonderful way to build a family, and starting with a solid knowledge foundation is vital.