Quick Reference: The International Adoption Process
Many families who are called to adopt often struggle with taking that first big step–more specifically, knowing where to start and what the process involves? Some simply do not move forward because the process seems so daunting.
If you are one of those families who believe God is leading you and your family to adopt but simply do not know where to begin, this should be helpful.
Below is an overview of the international adoption process. Note that every country/program varies, but this is a good general view to help you take that next step with confidence.
- CHOOSE AN ADOPTION AGENCY – An agency will assist you with the required home study, placement and post-adoption paperwork. This is an important first step because you want an agency that is licensed, experienced in the country you are adopting, transparent with costs, is excellent at communicating with families, and one that their adoptive families speak of highly.
- CHOOSE A COUNTRY – Some families are clearly called to adopt from a particular country while others are unsure. Sometimes the decision is made based on general age/gender of children available from a particular country, travel requirements or other practical considerations.
- BEGIN PAPERWORK – Apply to the agency & note the country from which you want to adopt. These two pieces must be decided before any of the next steps can occur. The next step is to begin the paperwork process. This initially begins with USCIS approval to adopt. The home study is done during this time with your adoption agency's assistance. Your agency's social worker will also speak with you about potential issues you need to be prepared for after you return home with your child. This is especially helpful for older child or medical needs placements.
- WAIT TIME – This part of the process varies in length depending on the country from which you adopt and the child you are requesting. In some countries, the wait time could be more lengthy AFTER the referral (e.g. India). This is a great time to educate yourself on adoption issues such as what to expect upon returning home (physical and emotional) with your child, learning about your child's culture, and even fundraising for your adoption.
- REFERRAL -When you are matched with a child (or receive official approval of a Waiting Child), you will work with your agency to arrange travel appointments and plans. This timeframe also varies depending on the country's requirements.
- TRAVEL – Some countries require a single, longer trip while others require 2 or more trips. Each country varies so be sure to read through each program's requirements before selecting a country. Countries that require 2 or more trips usually require a court date appearance after which you will return home before receiving approval to travel to bring your child home.
- POST-ADOPTION PAPERWORK – After returning home with your child, your adoptive country requires written post-adoption follow up. The requirements for this follow up is different for each country. Your adoption agency should assist with post-adoption paperwork and finalizing your child's adoption in the U.S.
As a Christ-centered child-placing agency, America World walks our families through the entire process–from application to post-adoption. An America World Family Coordinator is assigned to each and every family as a main point of contact throughout the entire adoption process. They are there to offer instruction, assistance, and encouragement. The home study process takes place through a social worker in each family's local geographic area. In most states, America World has social services staff that will conduct the home study. In the few states, America World partners with licensed social workers who have worked with many other America World families in that area.
- Visit our website
- Review our programs
- Join us for a free informational webinar
- Download our free information booklet
- Contact our family references
Still have questions? Contact us directly at Info@awaa.org or call 800-429-3369.