My husband and I said yes to international adoption 15 months ago and are eagerly waiting to go get our son from China.
We aren’t the only ones. On average, 135,000 children are adopted annually in the United States. About 59% are adopted out of the foster care program, 15% are infant domestic adoption, and 2% are adopted internationally. (Read more statistics here). While 33% of Americans have considered adoption, only 2% have actually adopted.
We have gotten lots of questions from friends, family, and acquaintances about adoption. November is adoption awareness month so it’s the perfect time to highlight 7 frequently asked questions related to adoption and the international adoption process.
Common Adoption Questions
1. Why did you choose adoption?
When our youngest daughter was about 5 months old, my husband’s sister’s family brought our nephew home from China. When we experienced the heartache and beauty of adoption first-hand, it changed us. I couldn’t imagine looking into my nephew’s sweet face and thinking he had spent his first 18 months in an orphanage without a family.
We thought our family was complete with three biological children, but we had a burden for orphan care. It took us two years, lots of prayers and talking through our fears and concerns to finally say yes to adoption.
2. Why did you choose international adoption?
We get asked all the time why we didn’t choose domestic adoption or foster care and the simple answer is we felt called to China. We also knew we would never fully understand what it felt like to be adopted, but we knew we could give our child cousins who shared a similar cultural heritage and background.
3. How does international adoption work?
We started the process by applying to a HAGUE accredited adoption agency based on word-of-mouth recommendation and the country we wanted to adopt from. Many agencies work with many different countries.
Once accepted, we went through orientation and prepared for our home study. A home study is a large file of information that a social worker completes on behalf of an adoptive family. It includes interviews, physicals, and important documents. Our home study took about 3 months to complete.
Then, we started filing with the American government for pre-immigration for our child (I-800a). It takes 2-4 months to complete. When we received back all the necessary paperwork, we compiled all the paperwork, including our home study, into a dossier which is translated into Chinese and then sent to China.
When the country receives and approves the dossier, they log you into their system. You are considered “logged in” and can receive a referral. A referral or match is a file for a child.
Once matched, it takes a few months to get travel approval and then you can travel to China to pick up your child. On average, adoptive families stay in China for 2 weeks. All countries have different rules and regulations, but adoption agencies are well-versed in the process and will walk you through it step-by-step.
4. Do you get to choose the age and gender of your child?
Yes! We chose to adopt a little boy under the age of two. Our social worker knows our wishes and will send us files that match our criteria we discussed.
5. How much does adoption cost?
Every adoption and every country is different but on average international adoption can range in price from $20,000-$40,000. This includes adoption agency fees, government fees, and travel expenses.
When we started the process, many adoptive families told us not to let the cost of adoption deter us from saying yes. It was hard to believe but now on the other side, I will agree. You don’t pay all your fees at once and agencies are very upfront about costs. Not to mention the many organizations that provide grants and scholarships for adoption as well as opportunities for fundraisers. We held a garage sale and people have given additional donations.
6. Were your kids on board with adoption?
100% yes! Our kids are so excited. They pray for our son every night before bed and he already appears in hand-drawn pictures of our family. Our kids will travel with us to China to pick up our son, and they cannot wait.
7. Were you scared to adopt?
Of course, we have had our moments. We have never done it before so in many ways, it feels like we are first-time parents again. When you say yes to adoption, you become a part of the adoption community and it’s so supportive. When we get scared or have a question, we know where to turn for answers or comfort.
Adoption is not for everyone’s family, but we are so glad we said yes.
As we wait to be matched with our son, I can’t help but think of the millions (yes millions) of orphans around the world who need a forever home. They don’t have a parent to rock them to sleep, kiss their scraped knee or tell them they are deeply loved. Adoption is heartbreaking and yet so beautiful.