International Adoption Spotlight: Nigeria


map of Nigeria

Nightlight opened our international adoption program in Nigeria in 2016 when we began a partnership with Morgan Hill Children Foundation. Morgan Hill is currently the only organization licensed by the Ministry of Youth and Development to provide adoption services in Lagos, Nigeria. They are a non-profit organization that is dedicated to humanitarian and children advocacy work. There are many states in Nigeria and each state has its own adoption laws that must be adhered to. Lagos is the only state that will allow non-Nigerian citizens to adopt.

Nigeria is a very successful adoption program but it can be difficult due to fluctuating timelines, times of civil unrest, and other factors. In 2022, we saw 7 children come home with their forever families in this program. Though it is not an easy program, we still have many dedicated families who persist through the long travel times, wait times, and bring home their children. We currently have matched all waiting families in this program and we would love to have some more families working through the process.


Nigeria is not overly strict with their requirements for adopting parents. Here are some requirements in this program.

  1. Adoptive parents must be at least 25 years old in a couple adoption. Single women must be at least 35 years old.
  2. Our partner agency prefers that families follow birth order. There can be exceptions made if it is in the best interest of the child.
  3. Nigeria can be strict when it comes to mental health issues in the birth family. Please check with the program coordinator to see if you would qualify if you are taking medication or receiving treatment for a mental health condition.


Nigeria has both younger and older children available for adoption. If a family would like to adopt a child under the age of five, they must be open to a child with special needs. Many special needs in Nigeria are minor or manageable. These might include things like HIV, tuberculosis that has been treated, heart conditions, and more. There are also children with more significant needs who need families as well. If you are willing to adopt a child over the age of five, it is possible to adopt a child who does not have any identified special needs. It is important to note that all children adopted internationally would be expected to have some developmental delays from their time in an orphanage. It should also be noted that all children adopted internationally have experienced loss and will have trauma from this.


The process to adopt from Nigeria is expected to take 2 – 3 years from start to finish. This can be shortened if you begin the process with a waiting child or if you are adopting a child with more significant special needs. The first step would be to fill out the application with Nightlight. Once this is approved, you will complete an orientation call with our program coordinator. After the orientation is complete, you will submit your application letter to the Ministry of Youth and Social Development in Nigeria. Families are not able to make their first trip to Nigeria until one year after the ministry has received this letter. You will begin to work on your home study and once that is completed, you will file your I-600A. Then you will wait for a match from Morgan Hill.

Once a child becomes available, we will present this to your family for consideration. If you decide to move forward with this referral, you will write a letter of intent to the ministry to state you would like to adopt that specific child. Once they give you an approval and we have verified all of the referral documents are received, you will complete the referral review with one of our social services managers at Nightlight. Once that is completed, Morgan Hill will work on obtaining a court date for the custody hearing so you can begin to plan your travel. You will also use this time to obtain your Nigerian visas. This will require you to travel to the Nigerian consulate in the US in person.

Once you have your visa and your court date, it will be time to make your first trip to Nigeria. You can expect that your first trip will be about 12 weeks in total. Many unforeseen delays can happen in the process that could delay you in country. While there, you will complete a bonding period, finalize your adoption, obtain necessary legal documents, and apply for your child’s passport. After this is complete, you will make plans to come home and your child will reside at the orphanage while you return to the United States to file your I-600. When you file the I-600, the Nigerian Consulate in Lagos will be responsible for completing the I-604 investigation where they will verify that your child meets the legal definition of an orphan. Once this is approved, USCIS should approve your I-600 application. Once this approval is received, you are able to return to Nigeria to get your child and complete the visa process. This final trip is about 2-3 weeks in length.


The greatest hurdle for the Nigeria program is the length of travel time. If you feel like this is something that would be possible, it is likely this program could be a good fit for your family. We do have a few waiting children available in Nigeria that can be viewed on Nightlight’s Adoption Bridge website. If you are interested in learning more about the program and determining if this would be a good fit for your family, please contact Kate Resh by phone at (970)663-6799 or by email at

International Spotlight: Mexico


Map of Mexico

Our international spotlight is on Mexico this month! Nightlight received approval to open an adoption program in Mexico in 2019. Our first children came home in 2021. This program has proven to be very popular with Mexican families wanting to adopt relatives for a variety of good reasons. In addition, some families have met children while volunteering in orphanages and moved forward with an adoption, and others have come to Nightlight to adopt waiting children in Mexico.

Mexico is a signatory to the Hague Adoption Convention, ensuring protections are in place to provide oversight that intercountry adoption are processed in the best interests of Mexican children. In Mexico, the duties of Central Authority are shared by the SRE (Secretary of Foreign Relations), the National DIF office (DIF is the Child & Family Department) and the DIF office in each state in Mexico. That means that there are many authorities involved, in addition to the Civil Registry and the court system, and can mean that there is a great variety in the amount of time it takes to complete an adoption. Some State DIF offices and some courts are quicker than others. It takes patience to complete an adoption in Mexico, but it is definitely possible and with perseverance, the children come home to their new families in the United States. Generally, an adoption in Mexico will take 24-30 months to complete.


Since opening the program in 2019, we have welcomed 12 children home to the US. Currently, there are over 50 families in the program, in various stages, from application to home study to dossier preparation to travel. In 2022, 9 children have been officially referred to their new families and all of them should be home in 2023. All of these referrals are for children related to the family adopting them. They have the following characteristics:

  • 15 year old girl
  • 7 year old girl
  • 5 year old boy
  • 3 year old boy
  • 6 year old boy
  • 9 year old boy
  • 12 year old twin girls
  • 8 year old girl

While it may seem like the program is just for people adopting relatives, it would be good to point out that of the 6 children who came home in 2021, all 6 were unrelated. Of the 6 children who came home in 2022, 4 were unrelated and 2 were adoptions by relatives. There is a good mix of different types of adoptions in Mexico.

Families adopting unrelated children, are sometimes previously identified (as in a case where the family met the child while doing volunteer work in an orphanage and later requested to adopt the child), and other times they are asking to adopt a waiting children from Mexico’s DIF child care system. In those cases, we require the family to be open to children 8 and older, since those are the ages of the children we see available. The younger healthy children are all being adopted by Mexican families living in Mexico which is very positive. There are occasionally children under 8 who are available but they will have moderate to severe special needs.


Once the referral is made, the family will need to travel to Mexico to spend supervised time with the child, usually 1-2 weeks. After that, it will be 12-14 months before the child will be able to travel home, in order to complete the requirements of USCIS, the Mexican courts, the Civil Registry, and other authorities involved in the process. Families will need to travel again to Mexico to appear in court (1-2 days), and then their last trip will be to complete the final stages and will require a stay of 3-4 weeks.


Do you feel called to adopt a child in Mexico? There are many different reasons: your heritage is Mexican, you’ve volunteered in orphanages and have seen the need, you know that your child is there! If you can open your home to a child from Mexico, please contact or visit our Mexico webpage.

International Adoption Travel Tips


passports on a world map

Travelling to meet your adopted child is a very exciting time in your adoption journey. You are going to finally meet and/or receive placement of your child. Though this is an exciting and joyous time, you may also find yourself experiencing a variety of mixed emotions with the joy, happiness, and excitement intermingled with times of feeling overwhelmed, anxious, fearful, and apprehensive as you prepare for this big event.  To assist you in preparing for this momentous experience here are some general international travel tips to consider.

Every child reacts differently to their first face-to-face introduction with their new parents. Their reaction will largely depend on their current stage of development. Toddlers can initially be reserved and cling to their current caretaker. Do not take the child’s behaviors personally; your child is likely scared. Be patient and let the child to come to you.  To initiate interaction with a young child, it is helpful to bend down to the child’s level and establish eye contact. A bright colored toy, or one that plays music, may captivate your child’s attention.   This is your opportunity to begin interacting with your child through discovery and play.

During these initial meetings, focus on building a connection with your child. Young children may not understand the meaning and roles of family members such as mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, etc. You may also find that your child appears to favor one parent over the other. Children in institutional settings are primarily cared for by women; with much less exposure to men as caretakers. For this reason, a child may tend to seek out only the mother for his/her needs.  On the other hand, because children are not as familiar with men as caretakers, the father may be somewhat of a curiosity and as such, children may be drawn to them. This relationship balance can be worked on once you are home by providing a daily bonding routine between the child and other parent. This can be as simple as reading a bedtime story or through interactive play with the child.

It is also important to note a child may act differently on subsequent visits or when travelling home with you. It is important to remember that a child’s behavior is triggered out of fear, grief, and loss. Ask if there is a special toy, object, or pictures from their current placement they can take with them that may provide comfort to them during this transitional period.

Travelling with young children requires planning and preparation for their anticipated needs (diapers, bottles, sippy cups, juice, drinks, change of clothes, snacks) but you will also want to have activities to keep them busy during a long trip. Suggested activities for younger children include:

  • Stickers/Sticker books
  • Color-wonder  coloring books/markers
  • Stacking cups
  • Colored pencils, sketch pads
  • Mad-Libs, puzzle books, word searches
  • Board books/Lift the flap peek-a-boo books
  • Play Doh
  • Magna-Doodle
  • Download age appropriate videos and games on your phone or I pad

When travelling with and older child or teen, take simple games or arts/craft projects that you can play or work on as a family. Ask the child what favorite places they would like to visit or foods they would like eat before leaving their current placement. Allow the child to be your guide as you explore his/her city and points of interests. Now is the time to take advantage of acquiring any cultural objects or memorabilia they would like to take with them to their new home.

Suggested travelling items to occupy school age or older children during your travel may include:

  • Download age appropriate videos and games for the child or youth. See if you can download any videos or games in the child’s language
  • Sketch pads, coloring books, colored pencils
  • Books, again see if you can find or download them in the child’s language
  • Individually packed snacks that are high in protein as well as some sweet snacks
  • Pack a small travel bag that contains small manipulatives they have not yet played with or seen.

Engaging and connecting with an older child or teen is easier in some aspects. When meeting your school age child for the first time, follow their lead. It is recommended that prior to hugging a child or older youth, to first ask for their permission. In asking for this permission, you are already teaching them about personal boundaries and that they have control of their bodies. Older children are able to entertain themselves for longer periods of times and although it can be difficult, if there is a language barrier, you can engage them in some simple conversations and needed instructions. Consider downloading a translation App for those times when you may need it. You can engage older children by asking questions about their likes and dislikes, what activities they enjoy, extra- curricular activities they may want to further explore, their friends, music, what they will miss in their current placement, favorite caretakers, talents, favorite subjects in school, future vocational plans, and what their daily routine looks like. You can also suggest they ask you questions about your family, home, neighborhood, community, the schools, weather, etc. However, this is not a time to ask questions about a child’s personal family history. Your child will disclose the more personal, intimate details of their past once they know you better and feel safe to divulge the more difficult parts of their life.

Travelling with your newly adopted children can be stressful under the best of circumstances.  You are just beginning to know your child and vice versa, there are appointments you will need to attend, documents to show, navigating around an unfamiliar environment, language barriers, and jet lag. With all of this going on, you may forget about self -care. This is the beginning of building family memories with your child. When you feel overwhelmed, it is important to take time out for yourself. When able, plan times during the day when each parent can have time alone to decompress from the stresses of the day. Check in with your spouse or support person periodically to see how each of you are doing. Give each other grace for the momentary lapses of frustration, exhaustion or when self-doubt may invade your thoughts.

Safe travels!

How to Celebrate the Holiday of Love in Different Cultures


Valentine’s Day is a commonly known holiday of love in the United States and some countries throughout Europe. Couples most often celebrate the holiday as a way to show appreciation of their relationship. Around the world, many countries have their own way of showing affection through their own cultural traditions. Although some of these holidays may not identically mirror the way the United States celebrates love, the message is ultimately the same. Whether it be love for one’s culture, love for a friendship, or the concept of love in general, most countries love to celebrate love! Celebrating the holiday of love according to your adopted child’s culture can help children stay in touch with their own roots and validate their experience of adoption. Love is universal, and can come in many forms and expressions.

Latin America

Latin Americans traditional day of love is referred to as, “The Day of Love and Friendship”, or “El Día del Amor y la Amistad”. The holiday is broadly celebrated in this region more so than any other area of the world. Latin America celebrates Valentine’s Day not only with their partner, but with their friends and family as well.

In the Dominican Republic, those who celebrate Valentine’s Day will typically exchange “cariñitos”, which are gifts of love that can be shared amongst couples, families, and friends. In the Dominican Republic, this day falls on the same Valentine’s Day as the United States. Valentine’s Day in Colombia is celebrated on the third Saturday in September. While these countries recognize romantic love, a great emphasis is also placed upon celebrating the love of family and friendship. It is a common tradition to surprise friends with small tokens of love throughout Latin America, and many will exchange anonymous gifts at home, in the workplace, at school, or between their friend groups. The tradition is similar to the concept of “Secret Santa” that Americans practice around Christmas. Families who are adopting from these regions can celebrate this holiday by helping their children design or craft small gifts and exchanging them amongst other anonymous family members and/or friends.


The modern Valentine’s Day of China can celebrated through their annual “Qizi Festival” that takes place on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar. It literally translates as, “Evening of Sevens Festival”, and is the country’s celebration of love rooted from folklore. Common traditions on this day include stargazing of Vega and Altair stars and baking “qiǎoguǒ”, which is a traditional sweet pastry that the Chinese enjoy on this special day. If you plan to celebrate this day with your adopted child, families can invest in a telescope for a night of stargazing or set time aside to bake qiǎoguǒ with their child.

Burkina Faso

Festival of the Dancing Masks in Burkina Faso, or “The Festival International des Masques et des Arts”, is a bi-annual festival that brings Burkinabe people together from over 40 different villages. Natives from all over the country wear masks and costumes to celebrate and can be found story telling or playing music. Although there is not a direct correlation between this holiday and the traditional Valentine’s Day celebrated in the U.S., it is clear that the people here share a love for their unique culture, art, and Burkinabe traditions. Families can celebrate this day with their adopted child and help preserve their roots through mask making or wearing the traditional Burkinabe attire on this day to celebrate.


Taiwan celebrates the day of love, “Qíngrén jié,” twice a year, on both February 14 and July 7. In Taiwan, this means the country is flooded with flowers on both days. Taiwanese men will traditionally buy their significant other roses, however the colors and the number of flowers are important indicators of how serious the relationship is. Red roses represent “an only love”, 11 roses symbolize “my favorite”, and if a woman is presented with 108 roses, it usually is an indication of marriage. If you choose to celebrate this tradition with your adopted child, try taking them flower shopping, or presenting them with the option to make their own bouquet for someone else.


Happy Valentine’s Day!

International Spotlight: Bulgaria Adoption Program


The Bulgaria program at Nightlight has two routes of adoption that families can pursue. The first route is the traditional adoption process where a family will complete their home study, compile their dossier and then wait to be matched by the Ministry of Justice. This route can vary in time based on how open a family can be to age, gender, number of children and the special needs characteristics. The second route is the waiting child program where families can review children’s profiles and apply to receive provisional approval. Once the Ministry of Justice grants a family provisional approval that means no other families can apply for that specific child(ren) and the family has 6 months to complete their home study and dossier for the Ministry of Justice to officially match the family with the child they applied for.

We have many waiting children profiles on our Adoption Bridge website that we advocate for because they are harder to place due to special needs, age or sibling groups. We have had many successful adoptions of families pursuing waiting children. The waiting child program is also significantly faster than the traditional route cutting out any waiting time a family would have to be matched. The waiting child program is commonly advocating for children with severe special needs that are 5 and younger as well as sibling groups up to four children. We have many single children that are over the age of 12 that have clinically healthy waiting for their forever families. Currently, we have a lot of families showing interest in our waiting child program as they look through Adoption Bridge and see all the young faces needing homes. Our program currently has three families pursuing waiting child from ages 5 to 16.

A unique document that is specific to the Bulgaria program is call the special needs checklist and it is something that was constructed by the Ministry of Justice that lists out all common and uncommon special needs that children from Bulgaria could have. Nightlight has a special needs checklist from Bulgaria that is highlighted with specific special needs that have been seen with referrals received over the last several years. This checklist has helped beginning families determine what special needs they would be comfortable caring for as well as any special needs that they would be open to considering. The Bulgaria program also offers a scheduled phone call with our Bulgaria representative to go over the checklist with each family providing suggestions of which special needs to be open to as well as letting them know the likelihood of a timeframe to be matched if they are pursuing the traditional route.

If you are interested in learning more about the Bulgaria program or the waiting child program, please contact our Indiana office’s inquiry specialist, Savana Rowe, at Your program coordinator for the Bulgaria program is Karson Loscar and she has worked in this program for 3 years.

Ways Your Family Can Help Vulnerable Children


Most will agree that all children deserve to grow up in a loving and protective family. All children deserve to be fed, to receive an education, clean clothing, shoes and to sleep in a warm and safe bed at night, all basic necessities provided by a family. All children deserve the warmth, love, protection and guidance of a parent or parents. Yes, we agree. As a rule however, most people do not know the number of children worldwide who are parentless or forced to grow up in an institutionalized setting not having access to things we all agree every child should have access to.

It is estimated that there are 147 million orphaned children worldwide who have lost one or both parents. Consider this, 81.5 million Americans about 40 percent have considered adoption. If just 1 in 500 of these adults adopted, every waiting child in foster care would have a permanent family.  Seemingly, as with everything else, we become distracted or think someone else will take care of that and we go about our days or we just turn a blind eye and choose to ignore that a child somewhere is suffering. While we look away or get distracted, more children suffer and some die while in institutionalized care. While we look the other way, more children age out of institutionalized care to fend for themselves with little to no education or training and without the support of a family.  There are currently 107,000 children eligible for adoption in the U.S. foster care system and every year, about 28,000 children age out of foster care in the U.S. Many who age out are forced into criminalized behavior, such as prostitution and theft, simply to survive. Aging out of the system without preparation and a safety net affects not only the child, but also society at large. Each child that we lose whether through death or talents lost due to criminalization, we lose another potential gift to the world and society loses as a whole. We have a responsibility to these children to care for them, to nurture them and to ensure they grow into loving, educated functioning adults who can contribute to society.

In international adoptions alone, we have seen a dramatic drop. The number of children adopted to U.S. families from other countries peaked at 22,884 in 2004. In the past 18 years, the numbers have consistently dwindled every year and now are just under 2,000 adoptions annually, and continue to drop. Yet despite the decline in adoptions, the number of children in need and the need for adoptive and foster parents continue to rise. What a sad state of affairs for our children. They say a society is judged by how it treats its elders and children. What does that say for us when we sit by and allow so many children to go parentless and without families?

There are vulnerable children suffering worldwide every day. You hear about them in the news, you see them on TV. While many of these children cannot be adopted, there are many who are eligible for adoption in the U.S. and abroad, who are in desperate need of a family.

Whether you are hoping to adopt a younger child considered to be “healthy”, an older child, a sibling group or a child with special needs, there is a child out there waiting for his or her own family to call their own. A child waiting for the love and protection of a family.

If you feel you are being called to adopt, we encourage you to look at our waiting children eligible for adoption on Adoption Bridge.  Additionally, many of Nightlight’s intercountry programs are accepting new families such as Burkina Faso, Dominican Republic, Colombia and Albania. Many of our country programs have short wait times for families to be matched with a child, especially if you choose a waiting child.  If you wish to pursue adoption from foster care, Nightlight can assist adoptive parents navigate the U.S. foster care system and adoption process.   If you are unsure about adoption and want additional information, schedule a free initial telephone conference at your convenience to explore your options, by filling out Nightlight’s online interest form.

If you feel adoption is not the way that your family wants to care for the orphan, there are other ways you can be involved. By volunteering or making a donation. Nightlight is a non-profit organization. Making a tax-deductible donation provides assistance to families adopting and children in need in the U.S. and countries where we serve.

For more information on all adoption options available to families through, please visit our website or contact us.

International Spotlight: Albania


Albania is a small country located on the southeastern Balkan Peninsula of Europe. The country of Albania has a population of around 2.8 million people. The capitol city of Tirana is home to about 900,000 of that population. Of those 2.8 million people making up the Albanian population, around 857,000 of them are children. Of those children, 31,000 of them are currently abandoned and living in orphanages throughout the country. There are several reasons as to why children in Albania may end up in orphanages, but no matter how they found themselves there, every single one of them are in need of a loving family to help them reach their full potential. Every child that resides in these orphanages has a story, and that story includes things like neglect, abuse, and vulnerability. Even with the obstacles that have been dealt to some of these children, we know that each one of them is one loving family away from completely rewriting their story. Currently, Nightlight is the only agency from the United States working with the Albania Adoption Committee (AAC) on international adoptions. The Albania Adoption Committee is the central authority in Albania who oversees all adoptions in the country. There are other countries around the globe who work with the AAC, but Nightlight is the sole American agency. See details about our program here.


The Albania Adoption Committee does like to prioritize keeping children in country through domestic adoption programs. Often times, the children that are adopted domestically are the younger and healthier children. If the AAC cannot place a child domestically in country, that is when they will free the child up for international adoption. Generally, children that are available for international adoption have some sort of special need, developmental delay, are older in age, or have a combination of these. One thing that makes Nightlight’s Albania program so unique in comparison to other programs, is that we can get referrals of younger children with more mild to moderate special needs. We often get referrals from the AAC of children ranging in ages from 2-15, children with mild to severe special needs, as well as sibling sets.


Another notable point about the Nightlight program is that it is a relatively short program in the realm of international adoptions. The time frame we are currently seeing from start of adoption to adoption completed, is around 2 years. Also in the program, we currently have two waiting children who have been referred to us by the AAC that we are actively searching for families for. You can view the profiles of these two children through Nightlights’ Adoption Bridge webpage. To view the profiles of our available children in Albania, you can click on the waiting children icon located at the top of the Adoption Bridge home screen. Then in the “Search Children” box located on the left hand side of the screen, you can refine the search by choosing Eastern Europe under the “New Locations” tab. All children located in Albania will have an “A” located in front of their name. If you are interested in learning more about a waiting child in our Albania program, you can contact Anna Lee ( and she can provide you with the child’s full file to review.


Since we have just recently wrapped up a great year full of blessings in the Albania program, we found it fitting to highlight some of the accomplishments here. In the year of 2022, the Albania program saw five children come home with their forever families and another five children get officially matched! It was a joy-filled year for the program with many reasons to celebrate!


We are hopeful to continue to grow the Albania program in the coming years. If you are interested in joining the program, you can contact Anna Lee through email at or call our Kentucky office at (859)-263-9964. Families that apply in the month of January will receive a $500 grant toward their adoption fees.

International Spotlight: Dominican Republic


Dominican Republic’s population has been steadily increasing each year. In 2020, the country’s population was roughly 11 million people with a poverty rate of 15.2%, meaning that 1.7 million of Dominican Republic’s people were living in poverty. The majority of Dominicans living in poverty also live in rural areas with little access to care and resources ( Socioeconomic inequality among women, corruption, natural disasters, and an increasing population seems to be the main causes of poverty in the country ( Among this poverty-stricken population are thousands of children that become neglected, abused, or abandoned every year due to the family’s inability to provide proper care for their children. These children are in need of safe, loving and nurturing homes; however, most of them find themselves institutionalized until they age out or are adopted. Typically, the Dominican Republic will prioritize domestic adoption before a child becomes eligible for international adoption. Dominican children that are not adopted domestically are then placed for international adoption by Consejo Nacional Para La Ninez Y La Adolescencia, (CONANI). CONANI is Dominican Republic’s central adoption authority, or the entity that oversees the adoption of children in need of families.

All children who become eligible for international adoption in the Dominican Republic have some type of medical or psychological need. Mild to severe special needs range in each age group. However there are older children and sibling groups that are considered special needs, but may not have a medical or psychological need.  These children are considered harder to place. Typical needs of children who are eligible for international adoption include blood related disorders, meningitis, diseases of the eyes, asthma, autism, and children with neurodevelopmental and/or psychomotor delays. Medical care for certain conditions may not be available in Dominican Republic’s health care system, as a result it is not always easy for the country to provide the sufficient care for children with significant needs. While the country’s healthcare system is the most advanced in the Caribbean, it is still not suitable for children in need of ongoing treatment and routine check-ups (

Currently, Nightlight’s Dominican Republic program has thirty-three children waiting for a forever family that are eligible for international adoption. The files of these children are available for potential adoptive parents to view on Nightlight’s Adoption Bridge website. Children eligible for international adoption from Dominican Republic have “DR” listed within their name on the website. Although Nightlight cannot post children’s photos on this website, the country does allow for limited access to children’s information online that includes general descriptions accompanied by their age and any identified needs. Eligible families can view their full file with photos upon request by e-mailing Children listed on the website are immediately eligible for adoption once a family’s dossier is submitted to the country and they are matched by CONANI.

Additionally, there is a $500 grant available to the next family that adopts a waiting child from the Dominican Republic. If you are interested in adopting a child who is not on Adoption Bridge, we ask prospective adoptive parents to be open to children that are at least 6 or 7 years of age and/or have moderate special needs. Generally, sibling groups and older children eligible for adoption are generally healthy. To learn more about this program, you can submit an inquiry form here, and our Inquiry Team will reach out to share more.

Setting Expectations in International Adoption


Families approach adoption with their own hopes, desires, and expectations, whether they know a little or a lot about the process. It is always good to recognize your initial expectations and consider how realistic those are. Below we have outlined common expectations that families carry into international adoption and provide some perspective that should we


Initial Expectation: There are so many children in orphanages around the world that there is a need for families to adopt children under the age of 3 in international adoptions.

While there are many children in orphanages or children’s homes around the world, not all of these children are eligible for adoption.  Countries must go through a process before children are eligible for adoption.

  • Biological family members are asked if they can raise the child.
  • If biological family members are not an alternative, the country will need to receive permission from the adoption authority in the country and/or the court system in order for the child to be considered an orphan and eligible for adoption.
  • Once a child is eligible for adoption, a family living in the country where the child lives is sought to complete an adoption. Keeping the children in their country of origin is important.
  • If no family in the country is found, then the child is eligible for intercountry adoption.

Reality:  Children available for intercountry adoption in most countries are older or have a special needs and need additional care.  We want families to be open to minor to moderate special needs.  We also want families to be open to children up to the age of 6 years old, and in some countries even older.


Initial Expectation: My adoption should move through the steps quickly.

Your adoption is important and your international program coordinator is working behind the scenes on your adoption daily.  It is important to remember that she is also working on other adoption cases daily.  Each case is in a different stage and different work and steps are required to move each family through the process.  The attorney is working on your behalf but they also has many other cases to manage.  The Central Authority wants the child to be adopted but staff shortages and poverty prevent things from being done in a timely manner.  The court is often overwhelmed – not only with adoption cases but other family court cases or even criminal cases. All of these factors can affect how your case moves through the steps.

Reality:  Your adoption is important and you are not forgotten by our staff. Your case is moving forward, even if you do not “see” those moves and changes on a daily basis.  It is good to reach out occasionally to your adoption coordinator to check in on the status of your case, but giving the coordinator time to work and to encourage country representatives is also necessary.


Initial Expectation: Getting the official referral is near the end of the process.

Getting the official referral of a child is exciting.  All the work you have done in home study and education and paperwork has culminated to this point of having a picture and knowing the name of the child you will adopt.  You are ready to fly to another country and bring home your daughter or son.  But it isn’t that easy.  There are still multiple steps to take such as:

  • Receiving USCIS approval for the adoption
  • Completing the fostering period or bonding period as required by the country.
  • Scheduling a court date in the country which can take months to receive
  • Attending court and waiting for the official ruling to be issued
  • Receiving all the documents necessary to register the adoption and to obtain the visa.

Reality:  Each step of the International Adoption Process is one step closer in bringing your child home but each step takes time.  Exercising patience is important because these steps ensure that the process is completed correctly and ethically.


Initial Expectation: My travel time in the foreign country should line up perfectly with the timeline given by my agency.

The timeline given by your agency is an estimated timeline.  Your agency does not have control over foreign country entities, holidays, office closures, etc.  An estimated timeline is given so that you have an idea of the steps in the process.  Delays must be expected.  Americans have the most difficult time waiting.  Most other cultures know that delays happen and they take these delays in stride.  Americans tend to become frustrated, angry, and upset, many times expecting the adoption agency or representative in country to fix the delay.  These are things that are not in our control.

Reality:  Your timeline is an estimate and a view of the steps needed to complete your adoption.  Your adoption agency and the country representatives are doing all that they can to ensure that the adoption is completed as quickly as possible while recognizing the country culture and requirements.


Initial Expectation: I have extenuating circumstances and should be able to obtain an expedited adoption procedure.

In the world of International Adoption there are very few extenuating circumstances that would make the process go faster.  Your job or your time away from family is not considered extenuating circumstances.  We have had families beg for expedited services for a terminally ill child to be brought home for medical attention to be given quickly only to be told that they must go through the process everyone else goes through. Even adopting a relative often does not change the process you will go through.

Reality:   Your adoption provider cares about you and your family.  The adoption process does not change for anyone.  All steps must be completed.  Exceptions or expedites are rare.


It is important for families to have a realistic expectation of the adoption procedure.  Your program coordinator will begin setting those realistic expectations in the inquiry and application process.  It is important for you to know that to us – every adoption is important and we are working hard to move you through the process so that your child can come home.  Delays are inevitable.  The process takes time.  Patience is key.  Devote this time to preparing your life and your home for your child.  Place your faith and trust in God who desires the orphan to be in a family.

International Adoption Program Spotlight: Bulgaria


Bulgaria is located in Eastern Europe and is one of our popular programs. We have successfully assisted with bringing home many children from Bulgaria for over 10 years. The children that are available for adoption from Bulgaria are of Roma descent meaning they have dark hair and olive skin tone. The age ranges of children available are from 1 to 16 years. There are sibling groups available in Bulgaria as well that range from 2-4 siblings. There are children within Bulgaria that have special needs that can be mild, moderate or severe. The most common special needs that we see from children in Bulgaria are prematurity, low birth weight, congenital heart conditions and strabismus (lazy eye).

Recently, Bulgaria has worked to help strengthen the intercountry adoption protocols and decreasing the delay in registering children for international adoption. There have been countless children that have missed their chance to be adopted due to the delay in registration. Fortunately, some older children were adopted at the last minute and now are living happily in the United States. However, some children were not as lucky and will live out their days in a group home until they turn 18 and are forced to face the adult world on their own.

At Nightlight, we advocate for the children of Bulgaria by posting waiting children profiles on our website, Adoption Bridge. This allows families to inquire about waiting children that are harder to place due to their age, special needs, or sibling group size. There are many children from Bulgaria that need their forever families to find them and pursue them for adoption. The Bulgaria program is very simple and does not have many requirements. You can adopt as a single or married couple, there are no restrictions with mental health, requires both parents to travel on just the second trip, and has two avenues of pursuance for adoptions (waiting children or traditional route).

Contact our Bulgaria Program Coordinator, Karson Loscar at, to learn more about the children, the program, and how to get started.