Domestic vs. International Adoption

Written by Jonathan Breeden

June 4, 2022

If you’re adopting to begin or extend your family, you might have questions about domestic and international adoption. There are no right or wrong answers, only differentiating factors between these two loving choices.

Here are crucial elements to consider regarding cost, waiting times, requirements, and legal hurdles for domestic and international adoptions.

Which Adoption Costs More?

Families considering domestic adoption should know that using a private adoption service always costs more than state agencies. Private domestic adoptions range in cost from $20,000 to $45,000. These expenses include a home study to determine eligibility, medical care for the birth mother, parenting classes, and traveling to another city or state.

International adoptions nearly always cost more than domestic arrangements. You can expect to add anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 for international adoptions. Your final costs will depend on the child’s home country, visas, airfare, hotels or temporary housing, and processing fees.

Medical records in international adoptions are often incomplete or unavailable. Some children adopted internationally require extensive (and costly) medical care due to inadequate prenatal healthcare.

Which Adoption Takes Longer?

In general, all adoption wait times are shorter when prospective parents have a generous adoption profile regarding the child’s age, race, and gender. The more specific the adoption plan, the longer it may take to connect a child to a family. For infant adoptions, you must include pregnancy, delivery, and recovery time.

Domestic adoptions can take three to 12 months. International adoptions may take longer due to travel visas, internal government processes, and country-specific issues. Countries with a good or working relationship with the United States are more likely to process adoptions more efficiently. Countries undergoing civil unrest and other difficulties can abruptly delay or cancel international adoptions.

Are the Requirements Different?

Each state has its requirements for parents wishing to adopt. Domestic adoption requirements vary depending on where you live and whether you use a private or state agency.

Domestic Adoption Requirements

Some domestic requirements for prospective parents include:

  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Income and financial assets
  • Criminal background check
  • Suitability of proposed home environment
  • Mental fitness
  • Reasons for wanting to adopt

International Adoption Requirements

International adoptions may have the same basic requirements and additional restrictions. For example, while married LGBTQ couples in North Carolina have the same right to adopt as non-LGBTQ families, some countries prohibit adoption by a same-sex couple.

What Are the Ages and Availability of the Children?

Private domestic adoptions tend to focus on newborns and infants, leading to a waiting list. Prospective parents willing to adopt older children can find greater availability, often through the state’s foster care system.

It is more challenging to adopt an infant from another country. The ages of international adoptions range from babies to teenagers.

The more relaxed a parent’s adoption requirements, the less time it takes to complete the process.

What Legal Issues Affect Domestic & International Adoptions?

A common fear among prospective parents is that the birth mother will revoke the adoption and demand the return of her child. Each state has its legal guidelines about revoking or invalidating an adoption.

There are also different rules for open and closed adoptions. However, once a domestic adoption is finalized through the court system, parents may breathe a sigh of relief that they are the legal guardians of their new child.

International adoptions may present more significant legal challenges. Each country has particular requirements and laws. Different states, provinces, or regions within that country may also have adoption laws.

There can be immigration and citizenship issues to resolve, such as residency requirements where parents may need to reside with the child for a time before bringing them to the U.S. However, every situation is different, and some laws may not apply.

Does International Adoption Provide a Closed or Open Option?

Domestic adoptions can allow communication between the biological and adoptive parents. Open adoption gives adoptive parents helpful information about their child’s genetic and genealogical background.

There is no shared information or communication between the parents in a closed adoption. Adopted children may seek non-identifying information about their birth parents when they turn 18.

International adoptions are almost always closed. Information about the birth parents is often inconsistent and, in some countries, non-existent. Wanting to learn about the child’s birth parents and giving their child the option of learning about them can play a role in deciding between domestic and international adoptions.

Contact an Adoption Lawyer in North Carolina

Are you considering adoption? Are you leaning toward domestic or international adoption? While your decision should be the best choice for your family, an experienced adoption lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. Contact a North Carolina adoption lawyer at Breeden Law Office to learn more.

Call 919-661-4970 or use our quick contact form to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.


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