Once you determine which countries want you, the next step is to figure out which countries have children that you want to adopt. Each family has preferences and limits on the type of child they want to parent. It is perfectly acceptable to want as young a child as you can get; it is reasonable to want as healthy a child as you can get. But realize that wonderful children are available that might not match your first idea of perfection, so keep an open mind.
Age: The age of the child when she arrives home in the United States generally depends on the adoption laws in the country of origin. These laws govern how long a child must be in state care before they are eligible for foreign adoption, and how the court process works. While many parents go into adoption thinking they want the youngest child available, all countries have older children available for adoption, and “older” often means older than the age of two. There are challenges to adopting an “older” child, but there are advantages, too.
Ethnicity: When adopting internationally, parents can decide whether they want to adopt children of a different race. In the U.S., international adoption across cultural and racial lines began after the Korean War, when many Korean orphans, some fathered by American soldiers, were adopted by U.S. families. Research has shown that transracially adopted kids do fine, and compare favorably with same-race adoptees. But even though adopting across racial lines can be successful, it’s not for everyone. You’re changing not just your immediate family, but your extended family as well, both now and for generations to come. It’s crucial that you think past the cute baby and toddler stage to what your attitudes are toward teens and adults of that race. You’ll also have to find same-race role models for your child as he grows.
Gender: One of the major advantages of international adoption is that you can usually select the gender of your child. Based on interviews with adoption agencies, 75 to 80 percent of parents request girls, so for every country—except China and India—the wait is shorter for families that will adopt a boy.
The decision to adopt from Russia was easy for us. We wanted a child that was as young as possible and who would look like us. My drive to have a biological connection to my child was what kept me in fertility treatment for so long, and I wanted a child who would not make our family stand out. I see no reason to advertise our infertility. Life has enough challenges, and having a child that looks different from us would add additional challenges.
I viewed adopting a child transracially [from Guatemala] as a plus. We had a birth son two years older, and having them look so different is a good way to remind us not to compare them. Choosing a different ethnicity has made it fun. I should add that we live in a diverse neighborhood and we “fit in” just fine.
—SG, Washington, D.C.
What You Need to Know About International Adoption|
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