Where Is The Greatest Need For International Adoption?


adoption The questions “Where should I adopt from?” and “Where is the greatest need for international adoption?” are often among the first questions that prospective parents ask after deciding on international adoption. Selecting a country program is very personal, and each family looks at a variety of factors in making the right decision for them. As a part of this decision making process, many families are concerned that they select a country program where there is great need or greatest need. It makes perfect sense that prospective parents consider “need” as a large factor in deciding which country to adopt from. I have answered the question “Which country has the greatest need?” many times and for many families. While at first glance this question seems straight forward, I often struggle with providing thorough answers to parents, because there are so many ways to answer this seemingly simple question.

There are many factors that we can consider in determining which countries have the greatest need, but how do we define or measure “need” in a country for international adoption purposes? We could look at the estimated number of orphans in any given country. We could talk about infant mortality in a given country. We could discuss incidence of disease and condition of orphanages in specific countries. We could talk about the likelihood of survival for children who grow up in institutional care in each country, and the list goes on and on. There are just so many logical ways that I could attempt to answer this question for families, but none seem sufficient until I know why the family is asking this question.

From my experience, it seems that many families ask this question because they want to know they are bringing home a child who has little hope of having a family otherwise. This is how some families would define “greatest need.” If this is the reason a family is asking the question “Where is the greatest need for international adoption?” the real question may actually be “Who has the greatest need for international adoption?” There is absolutely nothing wrong with selecting a country program based on greatest need, but I would challenge those seeking to adopt from a country with greatest need to think about researching adoption in a different way.

Regardless of the country program selected, adoptive parents will be filling a great need. For any child in need of a family in any country in the world, the need for a family is a GREAT NEED. This is as true for a “healthy” female infant born in Nicaragua as it is for a fifteen year old boy with HIV from Africa. For families seeking to fulfill the “greatest need,” who defines this to mean adopting a child who may not have any other opportunity for a family, the need we are talking about is not a place (where?), but a person (who?).

The answer to the question “Who has the greatest need for international adoption?” is very different from “Where is there the greatest need for international adoption?” The answer to this question is much simpler. The answer is older children and children with known special needs. These are the children that might not otherwise be adopted. These are the children that are unlikely to find a home through any means other than international adoption. Fortunately, there are many prospective parents looking to build their families through international adoption with children under the age of three with no known special needs. Many of these younger children without known special needs will have their great need for a family met by adoptive parents. This is true regardless of the child’s country of origin, provided the country is open to international adoption and processing adoptions. The older orphan and children with known special needs are much less likely to have their great need for a family met. It is these children who have the greatest need for international adoption.

Adopting an older child or child with known special needs is not the right fit for all families, but for those seeking out adoption looking to fulfill the greatest need; it is older children and children with special needs who have the greatest need for international adoption.

Photo Credit: IHH Insani Yardim

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MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.