December 7, 2023

5 Myths about International Adoption

5 Myths About International Adoption Debunked

As an experienced social worker specializing in international adoption, I've encountered numerous misconceptions surrounding the process. In this article, I aim to debunk five prevalent myths about international adoption, providing adoptive parents with accurate information to make informed decisions regarding international adoption.

1. Myth: International Adoption is Always Expensive

  • Explanation: While international adoption can involve significant costs, it's not always prohibitively expensive. There are various factors influencing expenses, including the country chosen, agency fees, and legal procedures related to international adoption.
  • Facts: Between the IRS adoption tax credit, adoption crowdfunding, grants from adoption-grant organizations, and low interest adoption loans it is possible for everyone to adopt internationally.
  • Anecdote: I recall a family I worked with who initially felt overwhelmed by the financial aspect of international adoption. Through thorough research and assistance from adoption grants and loans, they were able to successfully pay the ENTIRE cost of their adoption!  Many families raise at least a third of the cost between grants and crowdfunding.

2. Myth: International Adoption is Always Lengthy and Complicated

  • Explanation: While it's true that international adoption involves legal processes and paperwork, it's not always as lengthy and complicated as perceived. The duration and complexity can vary depending on the country's regulations and individual circumstances regarding international adoption.
  • Facts: the wait time is directly related to whether or not you are adopting a "waiting child" or are waiting for a "blind referral."  If you are adopting a waiting child who is photo listed or part of a host program, then your adoption will likely take less than a year.  If you are waiting for a blind referral of a healthy, young child, the case could take three to five years.  The wait time also depends on how long USCIS typically takes to schedule visa interviews for that country.  In some countries, it only takes a few days after finalizing in the foreign court to have a USCIS appointment for the child's visa.  In other countries, it takes a year for this visa appointment.
  • Anecdote: My wife and I adopted a waiting child who was photo listed from Kyrgyzstan. After our home study was complete, it only took 5 months between letter of interest and finalization in court.

3. Myth: International Adoption Doesn't Allow for Connection to the Child's Culture

  • Explanation: Contrary to popular belief, international adoption can provide opportunities for children to connect with their birth culture. Adoptive parents can actively incorporate cultural elements into their family life and maintain connections with the child's heritage through international adoption.
  • Facts: Providing examples of cultural activities, language learning, and community involvement to nurture the child's cultural identity in international adoption.
  • Anecdote: I witnessed a family embrace their child's cultural heritage by participating in heritage camp, cultural festivals and language classes. These experiences not only enriched the child's identity but also strengthened family bonds through shared cultural exploration in international adoption.

4. Myth: International Adoption Involves Risks of Health and Developmental Issues

  • Explanation: While there are potential risks associated with any adoption process, including health and developmental concerns, thorough screening and medical evaluations help mitigate these risks in international adoption. International adoption agencies prioritize the well-being of children and provide support services.
  • Facts: Discussing pre-adoption medical assessments, Nightlight's robust post-adoption support, and addressing common health and developmental issues with appropriate interventions in international adoption.
  • Anecdote: One family I supported adopted a child with special medical needs from overseas. Despite initial concerns, the child received comprehensive medical care and thrived with the family's love and support, showcasing the resilience often found in internationally adopted children.

5. Myth: International Adoption Leads to Attachment and Bonding Challenges

  • Explanation: Attachment and bonding are crucial aspects of any adoption journey, but they are not exclusive to international adoption. With proper parenting techniques, support systems, and professional guidance, adoptive parents can foster strong attachments with their internationally adopted child.
  • Facts: Explaining attachment-building strategies, the importance of patience and understanding, and debunking the misconception that bonding difficulties are inherent to international adoption.
  • Anecdote: I worked closely with a family experiencing attachment challenges after adopting internationally. Through therapeutic interventions and dedication, they gradually built a secure attachment with their child, emphasizing that love knows no boundaries in international adoption.

Conclusion: By debunking these myths, adoptive parents can approach international adoption with a clearer understanding and realistic expectations. It's essential to rely on accurate information, seek guidance from experienced professionals, and embrace the enriching journey of international adoption with confidence and compassion.

Daniel Nehrbass, PhD | President

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