As most of you know, adopting a child internationally is not a simple process. There are many steps involved in bringing a child home to a forever family. At times, the adoption process may seem slow, tedious, costly or even frustrating. Many prospective adopting parents tend to ask, “Why does this take so long?” The answer is not black and white nor simple.
Every country is different: culturally, politically, and economically. Many of the countries MLJ serves may be considered 2nd or even 3rd world countries that are immensely underdeveloped and in need. Some of these countries have very limited access to resources, making it harder for adoptive families to reach certain milestones of their processes. Other risks include changes in country laws and processes, changes in political power, changes within the country’s central authority, natural disasters, war and other outside influences such as protests and political unrest. How a country and the adoption process is impacted will also be influenced by whether or not the country is signatory the to The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). While the Hague Adoption Convention does not prevent risks it does offer adoptive parents some protections.
Client dossier documentation can also be a risk if it is not kept correct and kept updated. Worst-case scenario, outdated documents can lead to a missed referral and make the process take much longer for prospective adopting parents. Therefore, it is important to keep track of documentation expiration dates for all needed documents. These documents include, but may not be limited to, your I-600a/I-800a approval, fingerprints, and Home Study. Keeping these expirations up to date is especially important after submitting your dossier to the country since the prospective adopting parents are closer to receiving a referral in this stage of the process.
It is important to have realistic expectations when adopting internationally so all prospective parents are prepared for their child’s arrival home and adjustment into their new family. MLJ requires that all clients complete specific and individualized education plans that outline the possible child specific medical and behavioral risks that may be associated with the country and characteristics of the child that the family is adopting, amongst a variety of topics. These individualized education plans help families with the post adoption adjustment once the child arrives home. Additional resources and support are available to families if needed.
Additional risks include financial risks. MLJ provides all adoptive families a fee sheet which outlines the cost of adoption and when payments are due. Because no agency can ever guarantee a successful adoption, including MLJ, there are financial risks involved when adopting internationally as well and all adoptive families should be fully aware of the fees, costs and refund policies before embarking on their international adoption journey.
Being a licensed child placing agency, MLJ has a responsibility to make all children a priority, to ensure the well-being of these children and to ensure to the best extent possible that the international adoption process is in the best interest of the child. We ask all prospective adoptive parents to be aware of all possible risks involved in adopting internationally to further guarantee that we are providing ethical and transparent adoption services in the best interest of the children we serve. Whether you are adopting through MLJ or another accredited agency, do your research and be fully aware of the risks involved in international adoption.