International Adoption: U.S.
When most people think of international adoption they immediately think of faraway places like China, Korea, or Russia. They don't think of the U.S. Perhaps that's because geographically and culturally we're so similar to each other. In fact, it's for these reasons--our geographical and cultural proximities--that so many Canadians used to take their adoption search south of the border.
But not any more. Ever since the Hague Convention came into force in 2008, adopting from the U.S. has become more complicated and costly. Canadians can still adopt from there, but with the Conventionís new set of rules and regulations--designed to help countries regulate international adoptions and protect the best interests of adopted children--you can expect to find more delays, more difficulties, more red tape and ultimately, more fees.
As for the steps involved, count on, at the very minimum,
going through the following:
There are three main ways to find a child in the U.S.:
Conducting Your Own Search
Classified ads are another effective search tool,
provided you target your audience carefully. Campus and community newspapers
are probably your best bet. The ad can be very simple: "Loving Canadian
couple Interested in adopting a child" plus your first name, and
a number to call. But check first with your licensee or the state's adoption
experts. In some states, advertising of this kind is prohibited.
Before you sign up with any adoption professional
in the U.S., make sure that you know what you're getting into. The approach
to adoption south of the border is very different from what it is in Canada.
At the very least, make sure that the agency or individual you're dealing
with is licensed. The differences between one adoption professional and
the next are striking.
If, for example, a prospective birth mother doesn't have a
car and decides she no longer wants to take public transportation to visit
her doctor, she could ask you to rent her a car for the duration of her
pregnancy. Needless to say, expenses like this have a way of adding up
in no time. That's the least of it. Some of the women you'll be dealing
with may come from low income families and consequently lack adequate health
Luckily, there are ways around this. For instance, you can limit your search to women in those states where it's illegal to help out with "living expenses." Or you can only work with those who have insurance. Since adoption in the U.S. is monitored less closely than it is in Canada, the system is ripe for abuse, and some people will take advantage of that, particularly if they believe they can benefit financially.
Often it's not their fault so much as the fault of their so-called "adoption professionals" . Instead of taking the time to educate a prospective birth mother about the repercussions of her life-altering decision, they'll take short cuts, leaving the pregnant woman ambivalent, confused and ultimately unprepared to make an informed decision.
Where the prospective birth mother lives will also have an effect on the overall costs. The further away she lives, the higher the travelling costs and the more you'll need for lodging.
And finally, there's the legal and administrative
costs. They'll vary according to the professionals you choose and the
amount of time it takes to process your file. At the very least, you'll
need to find a adoption practitioner and lawyer in the state where the
birth mother lives. As in Canada, you'll be expected to cover the counselling
costs of both prospective birth parents, whether they go through with
the adoption or not.
Searching for a child in the U.S. used to have one big advantage over searching for one in Canada: in the U.S. there's more people and, by extension, a larger pool of potential birth mothers and children. But since the Hague Convention came into effect in 2008, there are many more restrictions, making it harder than ever to get your placement finalized.
If youíre willing to put up with the new regulations, adopting from the U.S. has one huge advantage over adopting from overseas: Babies are available. Because of the delays overseas, itís virtually impossible to adopt an infant from abroad. Not so in the U.S. In the past, many placements actually took place directly after the birth of the child. Nowadays, itís a little more complicated, but itís still possible to bring your baby home within a few months.
Other advantages: you have the choice of conducting your search yourself and, if the adoption is open, you'll have access to the medical and social history information on your child's parents. Knowing about your child's heritage and origins is a huge plus for many reasons, not the least of which is it will help you later when your child grows up and starts asking you questions about his placement.
The other big disadvantage: as in private domestic adoptions in Canada, the prospective birth parents can change their minds at any time and decide to parent themselves. However, given the increased costs and complications of adopting in the U.S., the stakes are ultimately much higher.