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Adoption is a highly compassionate and rewarding act and in recent years it has become more and more popular to adopt from foreign countries. This process presents its own difficulties and complications and it requires prospective parents to spend quite a bit of time researching so that they can be sure that everything develops smoothly. At the end of this article you can find a list of useful links as a jumping-off point for your research.
Probably the first thing that you will need to know about international adoptions is the Hague Conventions. The Hague Conventions are a set of international agreements that, among other things, dictate how certain aspects of the adoption process will work. These agreements were made in response to suggestions that something be done about protecting potential adoptees from exploitation or the creation of an illicit international adoption market. The process you will use in your particular adoption will depend upon whether or not the country you are adopting from is engaged with the Hague Conventions.
You will also need to find a credible adoption agency that will help you in the adoption process. In the case of adoptions that follow The Hague rules you will need an accredited agency. You'll want to shop around for the best adoption agency for your needs because, after all, this is your family we're talking about! And your family deserves the best.
You are of course free to be as exacting of your adoption agency as you care to be, but you will also be examined for suitability for adoption. Depending upon what country you may choose to adopt from the rules are different for each. Some things that may be considered are the proposed family's stability, financial state, moral state or likelihood to succeed. Everyone involved wants the absolute best for the child and all of this rigmarole is designed to ensure the best and most ethical adoption proceedings possible.
The USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), the country you are adopting from and the adoption agency will all assess your suitability for adoption. This will be completed in part by what is called a home study. This is where a representative comes to your home and actually analyzes all of the different aspects of your suitability in person. It should be very clear by now that international adoption is taken very seriously by all parties involved.
If you want to adopt it is a very good idea to start your planning process early. There are many overlapping steps that must be completed in order for your applications to go through. Depending upon which country you are adopting from (Hague Convention or not) you will have to file either Form I-600A or Form I-800A with the USCIS as well as any forms that your particular state require for adoptions. Finding an adoption agency that will help you plan all of these proceedings out is highly advisable.
Part of the difficulty of adoption and the reason why there is so much paperwork is that it has to be shown that the child to be adopted is in fact an orphan. It is an unfortunate and grim fact that without these procedures in place some people in developing countries might steal children simply to adopt them out to more well-off Americans for profit. This is one of the things that the Hague Convention is specifically concerned with preventing.
The State Department suggests that at the beginning of the adoption process you sit down and write out your goals and desires in precise language. There are two reasons that you should do this, the first of which is to help you make decisions and the second is to help you know when you have succeeded. If you know what your goals are from the beginning you will have less trouble when making tough decisions because you won't be wasting time flip-flopping. You may find that the adoption process is very frustrating and lengthy, by the time you've finished you may be so bogged down in negative feelings you can't tell if you had really done anything at all! However, if you specifically write down your goals you will know at the end of the process that you have succeeded.
People often wonder why adopt internationally at all? There are many different answers to that question. Some people say that it is easier to do than to adopt within the United States, and while this may be true in some instances, it is certainly not the case in all. Some make the argument that a person adopted from a developing country and raised in the United States will live a better life, but this point is easily argued against. Who's to say that they will be any more or less happy depending upon location? Whether or not they have parents to care for them is probably of greater concern. Some people have very personal experiences abroad and forge close attachments to the people in that country and want to help their residents. Probably one of the more popular reasons is that it is practically impossible for the birth parents to re-unite with the child, something that many adoptive parents consider a plus. Most of the time the birth parents have somehow died, so that in the future there is no risk of a dramatic, confounding or damaging re-emergence.
Some information about international adoption from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=8d5e901bf9873210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=8d5e901bf9873210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD
Information about the Hague Adoption Convention can be found here: http://adoption.state.gov/hague_convention/overview.php
A list of countries that belong to the Hague Adoption Convention: http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.status&cid=69
A helpful guide to international adoption courtesy of the State Department: https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/aa/pdfs/Intercountry_Adoption_From_A_Z.pdf
An international adoption agency search engine: http://adoption.state.gov/hague_convention/agency_accreditation/agency_search.php