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International Adoption Overview

The modern era of international adoption began after the Korean War, when Korean and Amerasian orphans were placed with families living in the United States. Since then, Americans have completed hundreds of thousands of international adoptions. In fiscal year 2011, U.S. families adopted 9,319 children from other countries.

The majority of internationally-adopted children are young; in 2010, 21 percent were under one year of age, and an additional 53 percent were between the ages of one and four. Children who need adoption are most often from Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, or Latin America.

Typically, the waiting time (and sometimes the total costs) for intercountry adoption are more predictable than for a domestic adoption. Intercountry adoptions are usually handled by private, nonprofit adoption agencies. Some agencies that handle domestic adoptions also work in intercountry adoption, although there are many agencies that specialize only in intercountry adoption.

There are special considerations that families adopting abroad should be prepared for. The background and health information they will receive about their child will likely be incomplete and may be unreliable. Frequently, changing political situations increase uncertainties of intercountry adoption, and countries may open or close adoption traffic without notice. After adoption, for the child to develop self-esteem and pride, family members must incorporate into their lifestyle elements of the child's original culture, including friendships with people of the child's ethnicity. Arming your child against racism is another duty of transracial families. Many families report, however, that embracing another culture is one of the unanticipated joys of intercountry adoption.

Read the full article: International Adoption

International Adoption Fast Facts

  • China
    • Adoptions in '11: 2,587
    • Children under 1 year old: 15%
    • Children 1-4 years old: 68%
    • Timeline: 4.5 yrs for healthy children
    • Est. total cost: $20,000 to $40,000
  • Ethiopia
    • Adoptions in '11: 1,732
    • Children under 1 year old: 34%
    • Children 1-4 years old: 43%
    • Timeline: 3-18 mos. from dossier to referral
    • Est. total cost: $20,000 to $40,000
  • Russia
    • Adoptions in '11: 962
    • Children under 1 year old: 4%
    • Children 1-4 years old: 76%
    • Timeline: 83% of parents matched in less than 1 yr (Cost & Timing Survey)
    • Est. total cost: $40,000 to $60,000
  • South Korea
    • Adoptions in '11: 736
    • Children under 1 year old: 53%
    • Children 1-4 years old: 45%
    • Timeline: 1-4 yrs from dossier to U.S. arrival
    • Est. total cost: $20,000 to $40,000
  • Ukraine
    • Adoptions in '11: 640
    • Children under 1 year old: Less than 1%
    • Children 1-4 years old: 25%
    • Timeline: 3-12 mos. from dossier to appt. date
    • Est. total cost: $20,000 to $40,000+
  • Philippines
    • Adoptions in '11: 229
    • Children under 1 year old: N/A
    • Children 1-4 years old: 53%
    • Timeline: 2-3 yrs for referral
    • Est. total cost: $15,000 to $30,000
  • India
    • Adoptions in '11: 226
    • Children under 1 year old: 6%
    • Children 1-4 years old: 72%
    • Timeline: 12-24 mos. from dossier to placement
    • Est. total cost: $20,000 to $35,000
  • Colombia
    • Adoptions in '11: 216
    • Children under 1 year old: 20%
    • Children 1-4 years old: 35%
    • Timeline: 18-30 mos. after dossier
    • Est. total cost: $20,000 to $35,000

Adoption counts from U.S. Department of State. Children's age numbers from the 2010 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics.

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