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Is International Adoption Risky?

Risks exist in every type of adoption, and it is ultimately up to an adoptive family to determine what risks are acceptable or unacceptable for them.

Adoptive families considering international adoption should speak with their adoption professionals about potential risks and take the time to talk with other adoptive families who have adopted from the same country and orphanage. Adoptive families should also consider talking to medical professionals with experience in international adoptions and understand any potential medical concerns or risks.

Some other common risks in international adoption are discussed below.

Risk: The country shutting down or suspending adoptions
Some countries suspend adoption petitions and processes for periods of time while they review adoption policies and procedures or deal with a specific case that’s garnered international attention. Additionally, some countries suspend potential adoptive parents eligibility due to age, relationship status, sexuality, religion, etc. During suspension, adoptions in process are halted or completely shut down, which can lead to frustrating delays or heartbreak. Be sure to research the countries you are considering, as some countries suspend their petitions more frequently than others.

Risk: Safety of Self and Finances
Americans adopting internationally have not been well-received by some countries and may face a strong anti-American sentiment during visits to the country they are adopting from. Additionally, individuals and couples adopting overseas are cautioned that language barriers may cause confusion when filing adoption paperwork or communicating with the foreign adoption agency or orphanage.

Because of language barriers, those adopting overseas may also be targets of fraud or extortion in some countries. 

Risk: The country processing paperwork slowly
The paperwork process can be one of the most consuming parts of the international process. Some countries are very deliberate and slow in processing the international paperwork. This leads to longer wait times, even after you’ve likely met and bonded with your child. Be sure to research the country you are considering to evaluate waiting times.

Risk: Health conditions and records
Some countries are much better at providing medical records than other countries. Some countries also have inferior medical services and records, which can lead to limited medical information for the child you plan to adopt. With that said, some countries have made great strides and improved their medical information. While medical information is not always available, you can explore characteristics in the region, such as probability of alcohol exposure during birth, hepatitis, etc. There are also resources/clinics within the United States that help families review medical records of adopted children and can discuss potential risks to prospective adoptive families.

Risk: Quality foster care or orphanage
The quality of the child's institutional care should be evaluated. Poor care can lead to significant developmental, emotional and mental issues as your child grows. It is important to explore these risks so that you are fully prepared for these possibilities. Poor care is not a guarantee of mental, emotional and developmental problems, but in some cases, it does raise the risk factors significantly.

It is also important to determine the number of children per care worker. The more children a worker must care for, the lower the quality of care, which is especially important for newborns and infants. It is also crucial to determine nutritional food quality, the frequency of meals and sleeping routines. This will determine what the child knows and is comfortable with, so the family knows what to expect from their child when they return home.

Although these scenarios are potential risks, some countries are able to provide exceptional care.

Adoption Questions

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