International Adoption – Your 12 Step Guide

We are proud to share that Adoption STAR is an agency with one of the highest educational standards. Adoption STAR will be available to you during your educational process. While your education begins pre-adoption, it is important for you to know that it continues post adoption as well. Educated adoptive parents will tell you that adoption is a life long process. Whether you adopt from a Hague country or not, the Adoption STAR educational program has been instituted to enable you to succeed and compliments and assists in completing your educational requirements.

 

Adoption STAR will be happy to provide you pre-adoption home study services and post placement supervision when you return home with your child. This service is available for families who reside in Florida, New York, or Ohio.

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1

Selecting the Country You Wish To Adopt From

Step 1 and 2 can be interchangeable. Sometimes an adoptive family falls in love with a country and just knows they wish to adopt from that country. In that case, they research which adoption agencies have an international placement program within that country. Be sure to check the requirements that country has for their adoptive parents as some countries are stricter than others and have age, marriage length and other qualifications. Sometimes an adoptive family selects a primary provider agency first because they are comfortable that the agency can provide them with the support necessary to pursue an international adoption. If you choose your agency first, be sure that they have country programs that you qualify for. We hope Adoption STAR is one of the stops you make along your journey.

2

Contacting Adoption STAR for a Primary Provider International Application

You will need to identify a Primary Provider, which would be an internationally accredited agency that is able to place a child with you. Adoption STAR has chosen not be a Primary Provider, but acts as a Supervised or Exempt Provider to conduct home study and post placement services for your family. Adoption STAR and your Primary Provider will form an interagency agreement in order to work together on behalf of your adoption. It is helpful to know what country you would like to adopt from at this point as each country program has their own set of paperwork and requirements. You may feel overwhelmed once you open the application packet as it is lengthy and takes a bit of time to review. If you have not already identified a Primary Provider and country program, we will do our best to provide you with information on Hague Accredited Primary Provider Agencies.

3

Contacting Adoption STAR

You may register with Adoption STAR to complete your home study for an international adoption. By clicking the button below, an experienced staff member can reach out to further discuss the process of obtaining a home study, and/or send an informational packet. You may also reach us by calling toll free 1-866-691-3300 or emailing us.

Request a FREE Information Packet

If you call the agency, you will immediately speak to a friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff person who can answer any questions you may have. It is helpful to know what country you would like to adopt from at this point as each country program has their own set of paperwork. You may feel overwhelmed once you open the application packet as it is lengthy and takes a bit of time to review. There is also a fee agreement to read and of course additional literature on Adoption STAR and our services and programs. Adoption STAR staff is available to answer any questions you may have while you review and fill out the application. After you have completed the application, you just drop it in the mail to us.

4

Welcome to Adoption STAR

Once we receive your registration packet and acknowledgment of reading and understanding the service contract and fee agreement, we will review it to make sure all sections are complete. If all is in place, you have become a client of Adoption STAR. Welcome! If it is geographically feasible for you to attend a personal consultation meeting with one of our family advocates, we will schedule that for you. If you are unable to meet, then a telephone appointment will be scheduled. At this time Adoption STAR would also be in contact with your primary agency to begin completing the interagency agreement.

5

The Home Study

NY, FL and OH residents:

Upon receipt of the home study fee, you will be supplied a home study packet that provides comprehensive instructions and documents as per the state you reside so the home study will comply with the regulations necessary to complete an adoption home study. Once all the home study paperwork is received, you will be contacted by a social worker that will meet you at your convenience for the home study visits. Adoption STAR believes a home study should involve an educational approach and we work hard to provide a welcoming and non-threatening home study process.

6

The Educational Requirements

Adoption STAR values pre-adoption education and exceeds the recommendations necessary to adopt internationally. Adoption education and preparation specifically to adopt internationally is imperative. Whether you reside near Adoption STAR or not, we will assist you in obtaining your educational credits. Our pre-adoption home study classes are offered regularly for your convenience. The process is not tedious but actually filled with incredible educational opportunities provided to you in a number of creative ways. We hope you embrace the learning process.

7

The Dossier

When one plans to adopt internationally there is much paperwork to generate in order to be approved from US Immigration. Your Primary Provider will provide you with a dossier template and checklist for the country you are planning to adopt from. In addition, your Primary Provider will review your dossier before sending it out to be sure that all the required documents and pertinent seals are in place.

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Ready and Waiting

Once your home study is completed and approved and your dossier has been submitted and accepted, you are now considered ready to learn about a child or children who are paperwork ready for adoption. Of course each country has its own requirements and time frames. For some this may be immediate and for others a child referral may take months to years.

The Agency appreciates that both the decision to adopt and the process of adoption can be difficult for many individuals and families. The adoption process is very often filled with moments of hope, as well as moments of disappointment. Applicants who view the process as discouraging or have an overall negative view of the process are more likely to feel unhappy and unsuccessful in the program. Planning for the possibility that plans will change is a key element to keeping calm and stress free while going through the adoption process. Applicants who remain optimistic and view the adoption process as a journey filled with learning experiences are more apt to feeling happy and successful in the program.

The healthiest way to be “ready and waiting” is to continue your adoption education as adoption is life-long and does not end with the placement of a child. There is so much to learn about adoption and parenting, so embrace this time.

Click here for 25 suggestions for dealing with the “waiting” process.

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Child Referral

When you learn of a child referral from your Primary Provider, you will receive information on the child, their development and medical situation. Depending upon the country, you may receive photos of the child. You will be provided with a time period in which you decide to accept or decline the referral.

10

Travel To Your Child’s Country of Origin

Most countries require that you travel to meet the child. The number and length of trips required to complete your adoption varies by country. Depending upon the country, you will be provided with expectations as to travel time, time in the country and what to bring with you. Your Primary Provider should work closely with their foreign service providers so their families will have a great deal of hand-holding and support during their time abroad. In most countries you finalize the adoption there, and may chose to re-finalize upon returning to the United States.

11

Post Placement Period

After you return home with your child, your home study social worker will contact you to arrange the required visits known as post placement or post adoption supervision visits. The number of visits will be based on the country’s requirements, as well as the requirements of the Primary Provider, and your home state, whichever is greater. The post placement period is an important time to share your family’s milestones as well as challenges.

Click here to view the Post Placement Questionnaire for International Adoption to see the important areas that will be covered during the post placement period.

12

Post Adoption Support

Post placement is the period of time after placement but before adoption finalization. Post adoption refers to any time after the finalization of adoption occurs. Post adoption support is crucial to the health and stability of the adoptive family. Adoption STAR provides post adoption support via support groups, online groups, counseling, post adoption educational workshops, and by providing additional resources and referrals.

After you return with your child, you can participate in our post adoption counseling, mentoring and social networks services. Through numerous events and get-togethers with other adoptive families, you’ll be able to benefit from the continued support we offer to families after the adoption process is successfully completed.

Learn More

FAQs – International Adoption

Begin answering some of your initial questions here on our FAQ page and send us an inquiry if you find your question is not answered here.

What International Adoption Services does Adoption STAR Provide?

For many years Adoption STAR operated as a Primary Provider with programs in Bulgaria and Hungary so the agency has a great deal of experience within international adoption. Currently, Adoption STAR focuses on providing education, home study services and post placement services for clients pursuing an international adoption and no longer has active international placement programs. Adoption STAR currently has active domestic (U.S.) infant and older child adoptive placement programs.

How long does it take to adopt a child internationally?

Times vary depending upon country and programs. From our experience, the time you submit your formal application until you are united with your child may range from 12 to 36 months.

What are the costs?

Fees vary by country and agency. One common misconception is the cost difference between international and domestic adoption. It is commonly believed that international adoption costs far more than domestic adoption, however this is not always the case. While each adoption has its own set of special circumstances which can influence the cost, domestic and international adoption costs can be very similar.

 

The Adoption Tax Credit is also applicable for families who adopt internationally.

Who are the children available?

Just as there are children of all ages available for adoption in the U.S., the typical age of a child adopted internationally also varies, depending greatly on the country of origin and its adoption policies. While some countries do place babies with American families, other countries have strict adoption mandates that only make the adoption of an older child available to foreign families. Additionally, some countries have very long adoption processes. While an American couple may initially be matched with a young child, by the time the legal process is carried out and the family is able to bring the child home, the child is several months older.

What type of information is provided about the child?

Your Primary Provider most likely works with a team of in-country adoption specialists to assure that you will receive as much information about the child’s social, emotional, educational and medical background as possible. Children should be tested for Hepatitis, Tuberculosis, HIV, etc. Photos, and sometimes videos, are available on a child. If a child’s birth family background is known then information about his birth parents and other biological relatives will be provided.

Can Adoption STAR work with non-residents of New York State?

In addition to being authorized in New York, Adoption STAR is licensed in Ohio and Florida. If you reside in any of these states, you are welcome to register with Adoption STAR for home study and post placement services.

I'm not sure which country I'd like to adopt from.

Adoption STAR staff will be glad to assist you with this important decision. We can also provide you with referrals to Primary Providers.

If we adopt internationally, do we need to travel?

Traveling to your child’s country of origin is usually required. In addition, even if not required, it is recommended as it is important to become familiar with your child’s origins, culture, food, climate and lifestyle to best assist the child in transitioning to your home and to work to keep the child’s culture a part of your new family.

How do I request an application?

Give the agency a call or drop us an email or request a packet online. If you have any questions when you receive the application packet, please do not hesitate to contact us.

How to decide between domestic or international adoption?

The best way to make a decision between considering domestic adoption versus an international adoption is to write down a list of pros and cons. Adoption STAR has developed a list of important areas to consider as you make the decision between a domestic or international adoption. Learn more about domestic vs. international adoption below.

Domestic Versus International Adoption.
What is the Difference?

Cost

The cost between international and domestic adoption can be similar or vary greatly depending upon the country you choose to adopt from within international adoption and which domestic program you ultimately choose. It is a misconception that there is a large difference between the costs for an international adoption versus a domestic adoption. Both international and domestic adoptions have their own unique costs involved. Some of the vast differences include costs for a visa and other immigration documents and the cost of traveling overseas, both common costs within an international adoption. While within a domestic adoption you may have expenses such as birth parent living expenses, which would be rare to see in an international adoption. The domestic adoption of an older child from foster care may cost very little.

Education

Education is typically involved, or at least should be involved with all types of adoptions, however this is not always the case. There are important educational requirements based on The Hague Convention for International adoptions and that requirement is to have at least ten educational hours pre-adoption. Domestic infant adoptions don’t always have educational requirements pre-adoption, however Adoption STAR has been a leader in promoting the importance of both pre and post adoption requirements. When adopting an older child through a public agency, educational requirements are required and are often followed the Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) curriculum.

Requirements

This is another area where international and domestic adoptions can differ noticeably. An agency, for example has no control over a country’s adoptive parent requirements and these requirements may include age, marriage length, whether or not singles can adopt, and even weight and other health requirements. Within a domestic adoption, many times you will not need to worry about age requirements and many agencies, including Adoption STAR works with married and unmarried couples and singles.

 

Paperwork

By far, an international adoption wins for requiring the most paperwork. In addition to the application process which is often lengthier than a domestic application and in addition to the home study paperwork, there are the required immigration applications and documents, the dossier preparation, paperwork that needs to be notarized and/or authenticated, paperwork that needs to be translated into the language of the country you are adopting from, etc. You also have many entities that will be requiring your documents such as your adoption agency, your state, the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and the foreign government.

 

Travel

By far, an international adoption wins for requiring the most paperwork. In addition to the application process which is often lengthier than a domestic application and in addition to the home study paperwork, there are the required immigration applications and documents, the dossier preparation, paperwork that needs to be notarized and/or authenticated, paperwork that needs to be translated into the language of the country you are adopting from, etc. You also have many entities that will be requiring your documents such as your adoption agency, your state, the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and the foreign government.

Wait Time

It is difficult to assess waiting times within any adoption as so many factors can contribute to this time period. However within international adoption, if all goes well within a specific country program, there is typically a proposed time frame between the adoption steps including a range for receiving a child referral, traveling to meet the child, and estimated time when child can travel home with you. Within domestic adoption, an agency can always attempt to provide you with their placement time statistics, but that does not mean you will adopt within that time frame. Within most domestic infant child placement agencies, the child’s birth parents are making the selection. Other issues that may impact wait times is how restrictive a prospective adoptive parent may be in their feelings about a child’s race, background issues, etc.

 

Availability

This area may truly make or break your decision to adopt domestically or internationally. If your heart is set on adopting an infant that you should rule out an international adoption. Newborns are not available via an international adoption, and it is rare that children under age 1 or 2 are available. The number of children adopted internationally has been declining, as the available children are becoming older. If a family prefers to adopt an older child, international adoption or domestic adoption of a child from foster care may be a better option for them.

Social and Medical History

Social and medical histories will be provided on children whether you adopt domestically or internationally. Often within an international adoption, there is not much information even though the child is older because often the child has been abandoned and there is no information on his or her biological relatives. In a domestic adoption, you will receive both an extensive social and medical history as well as educational information for children who have been in the foster care system. Within a domestic infant adoption, an adoption agency will provide you with background information on the child’s birth parents that includes a social, educational and health history as well as information on prenatal care and whether there are any risk factors including but not limited to drugs or alcohol, mental health, learning disabilities within the birth family, etc.

Birth Family

In a domestic adoption, you will learn more about a child’s birth family, specifically the child’s birth parents and you and the birth parents may have the ability to select to meet and have ongoing communication after placement. In an international adoption you may or may not receive information on the child’s birth family and rarely will you have the ability to keep in touch. One reason why some adoptive parents state they chose the international adoption route was that they did not want to have an open adoption and “deal” with the child’s birth parents. Experience and studies have shown that in closed and international adoptions adoptive parents “deal” with the birth parent more frequently as it is hard to compete with the fantasy birth mother and hard to continuously share with your child that there is no information available to answer his or her questions.

 

Legal Issues

There are many myths when it comes to legal aspects within adoption. It is important to research the unique legal issues involved in both a domestic and international adoption. Each country has its own set of laws governing adoption that must be met and if for some reason the country you selected experiences political upheaval within its borders or its relationship with the U.S. is damaged for whatever reason or there is a natural disaster such as an earthquake, your adoption plans may be postponed or suspended. Though it is true that if all goes well within an international placement, it would be rare for the birth family to stop the process, this may not be as common as you might think in a domestic adoption. One reason why some adoptive parents state they chose an international adoption over a domestic adoption was because they believed that the child’s birth family may come and take the child back. The large majority of domestic adoptions are not revoked or disrupted. You may have read stories put out by the media about children’s disrupted adoptions years after placement, these are the extremely rare and are usually the result of unsound legal practices.

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