The Difference Between Domestic & International Child Adoption

One of the first decisions potential parents make when adopting a child is whether to adopt domestically or internationally. Differences between domestic and international adoption include cost, time frame, legal requirements and the children available for adoption.

  1. Cost

    • The 2010 Adoption Guide reports that adoption from U.S. foster care can cost less than $5,000 and private domestic adoption averages $25,000. International adoptions range from less than $20,000 to more than $35,000 depending on the country where you adopt the child.

    Time Frame

    • The average domestic infant adoption takes two years, while wait times for international adoption vary from six months to two years or more. Adoption from foster care takes less than a year in many cases.

    Legal Requirements

    • Adoption laws vary by country. Age, marital status, health and sexual orientation are all factors considered by some countries for international adoption. Within the United States, each state has different laws, and adoptive parents may be chosen by the child's birth parents.

    Available Children

    • There are many factors to consider when adopting domestically or internationally.
      There are many factors to consider when adopting domestically or internationally.

      Most private domestic adoptions are of newborns; children adopted from foster care can range from infants to teenagers. Internationally adopted children are typically between 1 and 4 years old. Internationally, more girls than boys are available for adoption and ethnic backgrounds vary. While rare for international adoptions, in domestic adoptions parents may know much of the child's medical and social history.

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