Pros and Cons of Domestic vs. International Adoption


If you are in the beginning stages of contemplating adoption, it’s a good idea to acquaint yourself with the pros and cons from the perspective of both domestic and international agencies. Weigh the pros and cons carefully, then follow your heart and do what works best for you.

American Adoptions, an agency that specializes in placing healthy newborns and infants in domestic adoptions, lists the following cautions about domestic and international adoption on their web site:

Things to consider before adopting domestically:

  • Children are generally healthy with medical records typically available before and after birth. Families are often able to visit with the doctor(s) at the hospital.
  • Birth mothers can change their mind until they sign the legal paperwork. Each state varies on their time frames a birth mother can sign her paperwork.
  • Birth fathers are rarely involved in the adoption and therefore birth father medical background is scarce.
  • Families advertising on their own should be prepared for increased financial risk with little return.
  • Birth mothers select the adoptive family so families must provide photos and general non-identifying information.
  • Depending on the adoption organization selected, waiting times vary more than international adoptions.
  • While drug and alcohol exposure are lower domestically, 65 percent of all birth mothers smoke during their pregnancy.

Things to consider before adopting internationally:

  • Medical records are scarce.
  • Alcoholism and drug exposure is most likely.
  • Issues often develop from neglect and abuse from their parents and emotional detachment issues are common because orphanages do not have the staff to care for their children.
  • Countries can and do shut down all adoptions in their country. This means any adoptions in the process are stopped. You also could be interested in adopting a certain child and it is not uncommon for the orphanage to promise this child to several agencies. The orphanage’s goal is to place the children as soon as possible.
  • Major mental/developmental problems resulting from poor nutrition.
  • Travel is unpredictable.
  • American citizens are not well received in many countries.
  • Language barriers lead to communication failures, delays, and frustration.
  • Significant and unpredictable delays in foreign countries.
  • Extended stays in foreign countries disrupt jobs.

American Adoptions is one of the country’s largest licensed domestic adoption agencies in the United States specializing in the adoptions of healthy newborns and infants. They are involved in more than 300 adoptions per year. Their goal is to help pregnant mothers and families find the best information available for their situation. Their web site contains many articles and links for pregnant women, prospective adoptive parents, and adopted people.

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