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The first decision you need to make in your adoption journey is whether to adopt internationally or domestically. There are pros and cons to both so you should explore options by networking, talking to others who’ve adopted and adoptees, and attending workshops and open houses at adoption agencies. You may also want to explore your feelings with a trained counselor or in a support group.
When considering international adoption, many people’s two concerns are, “My child will look different from me” and “S/he won’t be a newborn.” In fact, most children adopted internationally are not young infants but range from a several months to 15 months; some are toddlers and older. Many children are of a different race and culture than yours. Travel is generally required to the child’s birth country, which can be both exhilarating and frightening.
People are attracted to domestic adoption for many reasons, including the fact that the child will likely look like them. Downsides exist too: birth parents can change their minds upon delivery and in some U.S. states with “revocation periods”, birth parents can reverse their decision within a certain time span after signing consent forms. Domestic adoptions can also be “open,” where you and your child can maintain a connection with the birth parent(s) throughout your child’s lifetime.
Domestic adoptions take many forms: agency - an adoption agency facilitates the match and process; independent - intended parents find the birthmother and a lawyer to process the adoption; state/county social services departments have many children of various ages looking for “forever” homes (and cost far less than domestic and international adoptions) and many offer foster-to-adoption programs; attorney-facilitated adoptions are legal in some states. In all adoptions, home studies and plenty of paper work are common denominators.