International Adoption Basics and Law

Adoption is defined as the process of legally placing a child with a parent or parents other than the parents to whom they were born. Once an adoption order has been put into place the parental responsibilities of the biological parents are transferred to the adoptive parents. The rights of the biological parents are also forfeited when they place their child or children up for adoption and the rights are then transferred to the adopting parents. There are a handful of different forms of adoption available to parents today:

  • Open adoption (fully disclosed adoption)
  • Closed adoption
  • Private domestic adoptions
  • Foster care
  • International adoption

Open adoption is when information is legally communicated between the biological parents of the child and the prospective adoptive parents of the child. Open adoption might also allow the adopted child to visit their biological parents. Communication can involve emails, letters, telephone calls and face-to-face visits. Closed adoption is when communication between the adoptive parents, the child, and the biological children is barred and not legally allowed. Closed adoption does allow for medical information and ethnic information to be transmitted between parties though. Closed adoption has been the most accepted version of adoption throughout history.

Private Domestic Adoptions

Private domestic adoptions are when a non-governmental agency takes over the responsibility of taking in and placing children into homes within the same country. The majority of adoptions take place via this process and the organizations can be non-profit or profit organizations. Close to 45 percent of all adoptions in the United States occur through private domestic arrangements.

Foster Care

Foster care is defined as children being cared for by a certified, stand-in parent, because the children have been taken from their biological or custodial parents under state authority. While a child is under foster care a new family is found by the state for the child to be adopted by and to move in with. A parent is legally allowed to voluntarily place their child in foster care if they feel that they cannot properly care for their child. Foster care is just a stopping ground before one of three things can be determined for the child. Those three things are:

  • Reunification with the biological parents
  • Conversion of the foster home to a legally-permanent guardianship or adoption
  • Placement of the child into another legally permanent family

International Adoption

International adoption is the adoption of a child that was born in another country. International adoption can take place between a person or a couple and the child from any combination of countries. Prospective adoptive parents must meet the adoption requirements of the country they live within and the country the child they wish to adopt lives within. If they do not meet the requirements of one of the countries then they are not legally allowed to adopt the child. Some countries do not allow adoptions internationally, such as most African nations, but some have extensive operations set up such as China and Korea. Most African nations have extensive residency requirements before a person can adopt a child.

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