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International Vs. Domestic Adoption

Updated on January 14, 2013

How Does One Decide?

My Story

My family is going through the process of adoption right now. It is our first time. Honestly, I was not prepared for the questions people would ask us about this subject. I guess I anticipated a pat on the back for doing something so noble. I received a few. Very few.

There have even been some who have questioned our motives or the decision to adopt at all! This I cannot understand. For those families who have felt the desire to give a child a home, there is no decision to be made. While I cannot speak for them all, I can say that the many whom I have met, were motivated by love and the desire to lift a child out of poverty and obscurity and give them a loving, stable home, and a chance at a normal life.

One of the biggest questions we were asked about our adoption decision was if we were going to adopt domestically or internationally. For me, this question is understandable, but I am not sure why it is one of the first to be asked. We never struggled with this decision. For ourselves, we have decided to seek and international adoption, but that decision came after the decision to adopt. This article is an attempt to help those thinking about adoption to understand that the decision is theirs and those watching an adoption understand why someone may choose domestic or international, and what difference it really makes.

Domestic/International: What's the Difference?

Truthfully, the difference between domestic and international adoption depends on your point or angle of view. Let me give you a few angles from which to view this topic.

Financial Point of View

When in come to the financial burden of adoption, domestic adoption can certainly come out ahead: especially when adopting an older child or a child with special needs. Often these special children will come with a Social Security Disability check, or in other cases a monthly subsidy check from the government for help with medical and psychological treatment. In some states the local government will pay all the fees for the adoption when adopting an older child.

International adoption, on the other hand can be very expensive, with the only help coming from various grant agencies. It is not uncommon for an international adoption to run into the tens of thousands of dollars. However, for both international and domestic adoption, the US Government has just extended the adoption tax credit which helps adoptive families recoup some of these expenses in the tax year after the adoption is finalized.

Social Point of View

When it comes to international vs. domestic adoption, the subject of inter-racial families is raised. Many people are uncomfortable with anything that does not look like a "traditional family". When adopting internationally you may be questioned as to why you would want to bring a child from another country into the US when there are so many children here waiting for a home. You may face scrutiny and criticism for adopting a child whose skin color is different from your own. This is more acceptable in some families than others, and you should weigh the impact of this decision carefully. We had this discussion with our family and close friends before proceeding, and it is recommended that anyone considering and inter-racial adoption do the same.

The Child's Point of View

To the child waiting to be adopted, they don't see any of the previous things. They don't view themselves as domestic or international. They only see themselves as without a family. I choose to have this point of view as well. I don't view them by their border or nationality. I view them as a child without a family.


So, when trying to decide where you will adopt from, perhaps this article can give you some things to think about. For my family, the choice was not a choice between where one territory started and another ended. It was just a choice to adopt. I admire anyone who will open their home to a child, regardless of nationality, location, or skin color. For us, the door to international adoption stood open, and we walked through. Simple as that. What is your story? How did you decide?

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    • Preacher2nc profile image

      Mark Foster 5 years ago from Holly Ridge, NC

      Thanks for the encouragement lambservant! Your comment was greatly appreciated.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Hi preacher2, so glad you wrote this. My son and his wife adopted their first child from Guatemala. The second was a domestic adoption. Now they have a foster baby they hope to one day adopt as well. My feeling is, what does it matter where they come from. They are children needing a home.

      My son and his wife decided where and when to adopt based on what the Lord led them too. They could tell you the story better. They love their children regardless. I cannot believe that God cares whether people adopt here or internationally.

      The questions and comments people make when someone says they are adopting are disturbing to me. It baffles me why they wouldn't be supportive. I was so upset when Pat Robertson said on the air to someone who had adopted foreign children, "you don't need to take on the united nations. Why take on other people's problems." Then he went on to say that he had a friend who did a foreign adoption and the kid was just weird. His argument was you just don't know what kind of problems they come with etc. I was disappointed that he said all this. How disrespectful. My son said, "I love my little "problems." He did not mean they were problems but he was merely trying to say that his kids were precious no matter what.

      Any child you adopt, foreign or domestic may come from families with addiction problems or other genetic or medical problems. My grandkids birth parents had some problems, but in the end, they chose to take them because they had something to give. There are no guarantees that any child, adopted or biological will not have problems come up. Who doesn't.

      I guess I am up on my soap box. I am sensitive about the subject. I appreciate that you put your emotions aside and wrote this objectively, with reason and giving all sides. God bless you and your wife in your adoption process. I will pray the Lord will bring you the baby just meant for you, and that you will make an impact on each other as the little one grows.