International adoption refers to the process of adopting and raising a child who is from a country outside of the United States. International adoptions are among the more expensive adoption options, however, one that thousands of people find to be the best option for them every year. That number has been falling steadily over the last few years, as more adopters look to adopt domestically or countries, like Rwanda, stop placing children until the country becomes Hague Convention certified or, as in Ethiopia, laws are changed to minimize and regulate the number of adoptions allowed to be finalized per day (which is five).
China and Ethiopia are the two countries from which Americans adopted most in 2010, according to the Bureau of Consular Affairs. Historically, the leading countries in international adoption are China, Russia and South America. International adoption requires a lot of paperwork, sometimes travel and an extended stay in the child's country of origin as well as philanthropic donation to the child's orphanage or agency.
International adoptions are preferred by nontraditional adopters, as many countries place healthy children faster than a public or private agency will with nontraditional adopters. Plus, many countries may have more lenient limits on an adopter's age and marital status than domestic agencies.
While there are many advantages to adopting internationally, for the adopters and the adoptee, there are also a few disadvantages as well. For example, an adoptee may find him or herself wondering what it would have been like to have grown up in his or her native country. Struggles with identity and the complication of birth family searches are two major issues that adoptive parents will need to be prepared for.