If you’re planning to adopt a child, you can focus on the United States, or you can set your sights farther.
There’s a whole wide world to consider when choosing your child’s native country. (And no, you don’t have to be able to spell “Kazakhstan!)
When we started to research international adoption, we quickly eliminated many countries, or more accurately, many countries eliminated us. I was only 28, so China was out. The stay in country was too long for us to afford for Ukraine and Kazakhstan. When I started reading about Russia, it felt right. I want to say that it was divine intervention, but who knows. People assume it is because we want a white child, but that is not important to us; I just felt that my child was in Russia. It bothers me that it is so unpredictable, but we are going for it anyway based on our faith and belief that this is what we should do.
We started out looking at Russia. While that program was appealing to us at first, the more research we did, the more uncomfortable we became. The two-trip process bothered me a lot. I couldn’t imagine going to Russia, meeting our child, and then leaving. That just seemed too heart-wrenching to me. China was out because we wanted a boy. Guatemala was just too expensive and too unpredictable. By a process of elimination, India seemed like a good match for us. The children are young, and we wanted one as young as possible. We liked the short stay in the country (about a week), the length of the entire process (18 to 24 months), and the cost. We also considered the low child-to-caregiver ratio and the overall health of the children and the availability of good medical care.
While at first considering international adoption may seem overwhelming, one thing to remember is that having children, regardless of whether they come into your family through birth, high-tech fertility treatment, domestic adoption, or international adoption, is a leap of faith; you will never have all the information you want until you hold your child, and then all the facts in the world are irrelevant.
Selecting a country from which to adopt is a little like choosing a college. Colleges have special entrance criteria that students must meet, while students have their own list of preferences. The same is true for choosing a country for adoption. Countries place criteria that parents must meet, and then each family has specific preferences for the child they can best parent.
Looking at each country’s restrictions is a good place to start your search, since if you don’t meet a country’s requirements you’ll be ineligible to adopt from that country, and can cross it off your list from the start. These restricting criteria can include parental age, length of marriage, prior divorces, number of children already in the family, marital status, and sexual orientation. The beauty of international adoption is that there’s almost always a country for every family.
Be aware: Countries aren’t the only ones that place restrictions on adoptive parents—agencies do as well. If you find you don’t meet one agency’s imposed restrictions but are still interested in adopting from that country, shop around; you can almost always find a reputable agency that will not have more stringent criteria than the country.