There are many reasons as to why people choose to adopt a child. Sometimes it has to do with infertility and couples decide to adopt children because, ?I could not have biological children and I do not believe in some methods of fertility treatments (Carney),? but there are other reasons too. According to Christine Adamec, some people think that it is better to adopt than to bring another child into the world. Others do not want to pass a certain genetic problem onto other generations, and some have medical problems that would make the pregnancy more difficult than usual, or even harmful to the mother’s health. These types of adoptive parents are called preferential adopters (Adamec, 18-19). Most adoption agencies in the United States turn down couples who are fertile. A statement from their physician describing their infertility is required. Since fertile couples are turned down, they generally adopt a child from another country (Adamec, 18-19).
The web page http://www.adopt.org/ states that since birth control and abortions are accessible to most United States citizens, fewer unplanned babies are born and a good number of unmarried mothers are choosing to keep their babies. There are relatively few healthy, United States born babies compared to the number of people looking to adopt. The number of foreign-born orphans adopted by United States citizens has risen from 9,356 in 1988 to 15,774 in 1998. This large number of foreign-born orphans adopted by United States citizens is this way because interracial adoption is no longer an issue because in October of 1995 the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act was passed. This act ?bars any agency involved in adoption that receives federal funding from discriminating because of race when considering adoption opportunities for children (http://www.adopt.org/)?. Even thought this act is geared more towards domestic adoption than international adoption, it has occurred in international cases.
Depending on several factors, a number of options are available if the adoption of infants or toddlers is being considered. International adoption can include agency adoption (both public and private), independent adoption, and identified adoption. Each state has a public agency charged with the care of children in the state. These agencies include the Bureau of Family and Children’s Services, the Division if Social Services, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Public Welfare. A public adoption agency over-sees the provision of services to children, including foster care and adoption, and they are usually found locally in each county (Gilman, 33). Private agencies can be either non-profit or profit organizations. These types of agencies deal with adoptive parents, birth parents, and older children that need adoptive homes. These agencies also deal with international adoption. (Gilman, 35). Identified adoption is when the child knows his or her birth parents, and has a relationship with them. This type is not very common in international adoption. (Gilman, 33-36 and Erichsen 27-29)
The adoption requirements of many foreign adoption agencies are less stringent than local adoption agencies in the United States. At most United States based international agencies,
Single persons and couples married one year or more between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-five, with or without children, of all races and religious affiliations, as well as persons who were previously divorced can find adoption programs in countries to accept their applications. Prospective adoptive parents must be in the middle to upper income bracket, able to quicken documents and able to travel abroad if required. They must also meet the requirements of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) (Erichsen 25).
The INS requires that at least one spouse must be a citizen of the United States. The INS does not approve welfare recipients, or persons convicted of a felony. For infants and babies the INS does not approve of unmarried heterosexual or homosexual couples. But, gay men and lesbians are being considered in the adoption of children older than toddlers through some private and international adoptions In addition some countries will not let women in their late thirties or early forties adopt an infant. It is important that people considering adoption be stable and sensitive and able to give a child love, understanding, and patience (Erichsen, 26-27).
Also, adoptive parents must realize the many advantages and disadvantages of adopting a child, especially internationally. For an in-state adoption, it is very rare to get a healthy, white infant. In 1983, there was about a five year wait, then it moved to a seven year wait, then to a twelve year wait, and as of 1999 chances were almost never. The waiting period is very, very short if a handicapped child, interracial child, or a teenager or an older child is wanted, instead (Pulumbo). Through private adoption and other types, especially international, chances are higher getting a Caucasian infant. However, no matter what race a child is health issues do arise in a majority of International Adoptions.
There are disadvantages of raising international children, but the largest is health problems. By law, a blood test is not required of international adoptees unless they are believed to be infected with HIV or syphilis (Erichsen, 151-152). MAJ McKenna, reporter for the Atlanta Constitution, reports that children are coming into this country with very high levels of lead in their systems. These levels are so high that they cause massive and permanent damage to IQ, hearing, growth, and stature if it goes untreated. Children adopted from China are most likely to be found with lead exposure. It was also found in orphans from other Asian countries, Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central and South American. Lead exposure is a greater risk abroad because of leader-gasoline exhaust, industrial emissions, small-scale manufacturing, some traditional medicines, and in even in glazes of ceramic pottery. International adoptees need comprehensive assessment and screening, so their problems do not go undetected and they receive appropriate medial treatment and care as needed (McKenna, 1-2).
The general health of children adopted internationally depends a great deal upon the condition of the child at the time of relinquishment and the quality of the orphanage of foster care. Heino Ericheson, author of ?How to Adopt Internationally?, reports that some international adoptees are in excellent health, but others have a degree of malnutrition, some intestinal parasites, and acute illnesses, such as common colds. These are remedied with a loving home and medical treatment. Babies and children coming from impoverished environments and often arrive at orphanages and foster homes with malnutrition, lice, scabies, skin problems, worms or parasites, diarrhea, and infectious diseases like AIDS. Sometimes the orphanage or hospital where the child lives may expose him or her to all these health conditions and even more (Erichsen, 151-152).
Children of developing nations get all of the diseases United States children do with an important difference. Many foreign children have never had the series of vaccinations commonly administered to United States children. Entirely preventable childhood diseases, such as measles or poliomyelitis, sometimes cause complications and disabilities. Their effects, as well as birth defects, injuries and common illness often go untreated since the poor can not afford medical care. Also, simple conditions are often complicated by the efforts of poor nutrition. Most of the health conditions effecting internationally adopted children are not ?excludable conditions? and may not be noted at the Visa physical. The following are the names of tests that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for all newly arrived, adopted, immigrant children regardless of age, country of origin, or apparent health: blood tests for HIV 1 and 2; Syphilis; Hepatitis B and C; complete blood count; stool samples for ova and parasites; skin test (mantoux) for tuberculosis and updates for all immunizations (Erichsen, 151-152). To find more information on medical issues concerning international adoption and orphans, go to http://www.orphandoctor.com/.
Another disadvantage of any adoption, but especially international is the lack of knowledge that both the adoptee and the adoptive parents are given about the biological parents and family members medical and psychiatric history. This information can become very critical in anyone’s life. When visiting a doctor, for any reason, a question that is asked might be if there is a history of cardiac problems in your family.
There are many reason and circumstances as to why a child is up for adoption in the United States. Some of these circumstances are personal and family problems that make it impossible for the parents to maintain a home for their children, but some also include abuse, neglected, or abandonment. In these types of circumstances the biological parent(s) are asked to fill out papers that ask about their medical and psychiatric history, however there is no way to tell whether or not they are telling the truth. Another reason why this information is not made public during international adoption is that in the country from which the child is being adopting the healthcare system is farther behind than the in United States (Pulumbo).
International adoption can be very difficult on the adoptive family. The challenges of adopting and raising a foreign-born child have to be carefully considered. Adopting a foreign child means that the adoptive family will become intercultural and interracial. Adoptive parents must be able to acknowledge that their foreign-born children will always have a unique situation. Coping with the fact that they have another set of parents somewhere and that they are racially and/or culturally different from the adoptive parents can be different during childhood and adolescence. Counseling and/or family therapy are sometimes necessary.
Furthermore, a child’s native country must be integrated into their lives in the United States. Putting a flag or books from their native country in their room is one way to start to integrate their cultures. One couple said ?we bought him several things when we were in Russia, and give him one special thing from his country each year in the anniversary of his adoption (the gotcha day)? (Carney). Some other ways couples integrate culture is to have their child go to special lessons taught by someone of their child’s culture, i.e. Russian or Chinese. There they learn how to speak their native language and about different aspects of their culture. Some couples serve ethnic foods at least twice a week, and they even go to cooking classes to learn how to make a variety of dishes. Also, some families move to an area that has a large population of their child’s culture (Lang, 3-4). One mom said, ?I am looking into places with a large Russian population to allow for interaction with people of his culture (Carney).?
International adoption opens a new window in the adoptive parents’ life. The adoptee’s homeland will become part of the adoptive parents’ life, and the adoptive parents will notice what is going on in the news in that part of the world. ?My husband and I read lots of books on Russia to stay current on the polities over there. We also tape everything we see on TV for him and save news articles. (Carney).? This couple hopes that when their child grows up this information will be able to help him understand the realities of life for the people of Russia.
Although most international adoptions have been successful, there have been a few problems. One is that children older than two, handicapped children, and sibling groups present a greater challenge to a harmonious family adjustment. The most successful placements of these types of children occur when the parents fulfill the child’s needs with out expecting anything in return. These parents adopt knowing that the child may not be able to love or trust them for many years because these children have a personality, memories, habits, and a different language (http://www.adopt.org/).
Adopting children orphaned by sudden and extreme circumstances is much more difficult than adopting a child already relinquished by a parent to an institution. Documented evidence must prove that the child had no living relatives and investigating a child’s social history and creating identifying documents is a slow process, particularly in an area that has been destroyed by nature or man (Erichsen, 102-105).
One main advantage of international adoption, for the adoptive parents, is that there is no competition for a child, because the number of children up for adoption in other countries is much higher than the United States. This makes it almost impossible for two or more sets of couples to apply for the same child. Competition happens in domestic cases more that in international because domestically more than one couple may apply for the same child since there is a limited amount in the United States. This does not happen in international case because there are so many children (Pulumbo).
Once approved by both the adoption agency and the INS and you documents are prepared for a foreign court, a child will be selected and referred to the adoptive parents’ based on the on the age gender, ethnicity, etc, that was requested. Another advantage of international adoption is the fact that the stringent requirements concerning the documentation of a child’s status as an orphan by both the United States and child-placing governments make custody suits by foreign birth parent’s is virtually unheard of (Erichsen, 132-143).
International adoption consists of many more steps and a lot more money than any other type of adoption. These steps can be found in their entirety in ?How to Adopt International? by Jean Nelson-Erichsen and Heino R. Erichsen. Some of these steps vary from country to country, and are very lengthily. To some people domestic adoption system is much more complicated and risky. Some people go as far as running ads in newspapers and answering 800 numbers in their homes, these steps are not necessary in international adoption (Carney).
When deciding to adopt a child international cost must be considered. The highest cost, using the tally on ?How to Adopt Internationally? was $47,800 without both legal fees and with only a one night stay at a hotel, the lowest with the same exceptions was $11,140 (37-39). In the United States through private adoption agencies, the costs vary form $9,200 to $13,700 not counting travel or living expenses (http://www.adopt.org/). With a private attorney in the state of New Jersey, the total cost without travel/living expenses was $19,400 (http://www.adopt.org/). In domestic cases the fees differ from state to state and the type of agency that is chosen. Also adopting a child with special needs is less expensive, and often agencies have a sliding fee scale, and there is little to no cost. Although it costs much more to adopt internationally, you will almost certainly get a child. In some cases couples have spent a lot of money, and they never received a child (http://www.adopt.org/).
One main concern of any adoptive parent(s) is that the birth parents will come and take their new child away from them. In order for a child to be adopted, the birth parents have to relinquish legal custody. With most agency adoptions, a child is already legally free for adoption before a placement occurs. There are some cases when a birth parent changes his or her mind. This usually only happens before an adoption is finalized. These are highly publicized and rarely occur. These types of cases happen mostly in domestic case, but can very rarely occur in international cases (Adamec, 55).
Feelings of all the parties involved in adoption are all different. The two parties that it influences the most it the adoptive parents, and the child(ren). It benefits the adoptive parents in many ways. One parent said that, ?My son is the love of my life and having him has dramatically and positively changed my life forever. It is just hard to say how one benefits from being a mother?the benefits are all immeasurable? (Carney). This is the best quote that will ever describe how adopting/having a child will ever benefit a couple. In fact, this particular couple will be adopting again. They feel that their lives would be fuller and their child’s life also. Also, they realized that ?adopting our son had made a huge impact on his life. It is hard to forget the faces of all the children we saw, and since we are able, we want to positively influence the life of another child? (Carney).
The benefits for the child will always out weight anyone else’s. Life in an orphanage is a terrible thing. Children suffer from malnourishment, and a lack of stimulation, and most will never reach their full potential. The statistics for children who live in an orphanage their whole lives are horrific. Of about 15,000 children who leave orphanages at age sixteen, one in ten commit suicide, one in three becomes a criminal and one in five becomes a vagabond. These children ?age out? of the orphanage system at age sixteen with no bond to another human being and few life skills (Erichsen 170). ?Approximately 40-60% of them end up homeless during some part of their lives?(http://www.adpotion.org/).
The only benefits that the birth parents have is the fact that they think or know that their children will be loved and cared for and have a wonderful and a better life than they could give him or her. Some people in these countries feel that these children will have healthier life in different counties, especially ones that have a high economic stand. They are happy to see them go to loving, caring homes, even if it means they have to go half way around the world to get that. One couple said that the last thing the orphanage director said to them was ?please come back and take more!? (Carney). On the other hand, the feelings of residents of the adoptees’ country are not always positive. Some residents ask why people could not adopt of their ?own kind?, and some feel ashamed that someone else has to come and take care of ?our children? (Lenhart, 1).
Every year the world experiences significant natural disasters. Earthquakes, hurricanes, and epidemics create hundreds of orphans. Ethnic cleansing, war, and famine create even more. These children, plus the ones orphaned by people not able or willing to raise a child, are in institutions all over the world. Adopting is a big decision, and international adoption is an even bigger one. There are many advantages and disadvantages to international adoption, so the decision to adopt international is up to the adopter. In any type of adoption much research is needed to decide which way is best for the adopter. Whatever way is chosen, the adoptive parents will have a child that they will have to love and care for as if the child was their’s biologically.
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