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The most common countries for International Adoption by parents in the United States for 2003 are China, Russia, Guatemala, South Korea, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. These statistics can vary from year to year as each country alters its rules.
Policies and Requirements
Adoption Policies for each country vary widely. Items such as financial status, marital status and history, number of dependent children in the house, sexual orientation and weight are used by different countries to determine what parents are eligible to adopt from that country.
Items such as the age of the child, fees and expenses, and the amount of travel time required in the child's birth country, can also vary widely from one country to another.
Each country sets its own unique rules, timelines and requirements surrounding adoption, and there are also rules that vary in each US state.
Typically, the first stage of the process is selecting an agency to work with. Each agency works with a different set of countries, and some only focus on adoptions with a single country. Although some countries do allow independent adoption (i.e., an international adoption not done in coordination with an agency) it is rare for adoptive parents to go this route, especially with their first adoption.
A dossier is prepared that contains a large amount of information about the prospective adoptive parents. Typically this includes financial information, a background check, fingerprints, a home study review by a social worker and other supporting information. Again, requirements will vary widely from country to country. This dossier is submitted to the appropriate authorities in the child's country and reviewed.
After it is reviewed, and a eligible child is matched to the adoptive parents, the parent is usually sent information about the child. This is generally called a referral. A travel date is typically included, informing the parents when they may adopt their child.
Depending on the country, the parents may have to make 1-2 trips overseas to complete the legal process of adoption. Some countries allow a child to be escorted to the US, and the parents are never required to leave the country.
There are usually several requirements after this point, such as paperwork to make the child a legal US citizen or re-adopt them under US law. In addition, one or more followup visits from the social worker will generally be required as well. In the United States, citizenship is automatically granted to all foreign-born children when at least one adoptive parent is a U.S. citizen, in accordance with the Child Citizenship Act (2001).
Children with special medical needs are also available for adoption. These children are typically called "Waiting Children" in most international adoption programs. The parental requirements for adopting these children is commonly less strict, and the waiting time for the referral is usually a lot less. Sometimes fees and expenses can be reduced for these children. As always, this varies widely by country.
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