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Adoption Myth No. 4


a blog by Ellen Glazer, October 28, 2010

I hear it all the time. “You can’t adopt a baby in this country. It’s so hard. That’s why people adopt internationally.”

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

These statements have always been wrong and all the more so now. It is quite difficult to adopt internationally, and those who do so are never choosing this path because it is “easier,” “less expensive,“ or “safer.” It never has been and it certainly is not now. International adoption is more challenging, less available, usually more expensive and often takes longer than domestic adoption.

The Public Face of Adoption

So why is there the myth that adoptions are international? I believe that it stems from the fact that many international adoptions are highly visible. We’ve all seen lots of Caucasian parents with Asian children, as well as many Caucasian parents with South and Central American children. These families are the public face of adoption: those who see them can easily identify them as adoptive families.

But what of the parents — Caucasian and African American — with children who joined their families through adoption and who match them racially? No one identifies them as adoptive families in the supermarket or at the soccer field or the piano recital. They are assumed to be biological families, and those who see them do not factor them into their beliefs about adoption.

Why International Adoption Is Growing More Difficult

Why is international adoption more difficult and growing all the more so? There are many reasons for this, but here are a few.

In recent years, some of the “sending countries,” such as China and Korea, have limited international adoption and tried to keep their children in their own countries by promoting domestic adoption. In addition, the Hague Convention, an international agreement governing adoption, has implemented strict laws to eliminate any risk of trafficking in babies.

International adoption is more expensive because it involves travel and, sometimes, lengthy in-country stays or more than one trip. In addition, there are fees/donations to orphanages, other government agencies and the immigration service.

Finally, international adoptions usually involved children who are at least of toddler age, and there are the challenges that come with helping a child cope with the loss of early caregivers and often, the impact of being in an orphanage.

Every family I know who has adopted internationally is overjoyed with their path to parenthood. Their children are captivating people — lively, engaging, exuberant. Each and every one of these families would say that they would not do things differently. They love the child/children they have, and they love the way they came to their family.

International adoption is wonderful. It is awe inspiring. For infertile couples, it is an alternative “first best” path to parenthood. But making it happen is not easy.

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