International vs. Domestic Adoption

The other week, in my not so perfect breakdown, I went on a bit of rant about the hard decisions that anyone contemplating adoption has to make. Decisions that seem so insane the first time I started thinking about them. In fact, many of the decisions felt inherently wrong and 100% politically incorrect.  (That said, it does seem like many of the decisions we have been faced with thanks to recurrent pregnancy loss are slightly insane).

he insane adoptions decisions I’m talking about are decisions like:

  • Race – what race are my husband I be willing to adopt?
  • Alcohol/Drug consumption – what level of alcohol and drug consumption on behalf of the birth mother are we willing to accept?
  • Premature birth – how premature of a birth are we willing to accept?

Decisions like this just seem so difficult for me. My first reaction is, what do you mean what race will I accept? This is actually a choice? Or, premature births, why should I get to choose that, when if I had the child myself I would not get a say in this?

Either way, it is what it is.  So here we are thinking seriously about our answers to each question becuase the fact is if we choose to pursue adoption, we have to make these decisions.

We suck it up, we check the boxes and we make peace with the decisions regardless of the outcome.

But (oh, how I love the word but – the use of the word instantly recognizes the complications of the situation) …

But, intertwined with these decisions is the very critical decision of domestic vs international adoption. So, today I’m going to talk about my straight-forward, matter of fact opinions on the merits of domestic vs. international adoption. Remember, these are just my opinions based on hours of reading over the last few months – I am not citing anything, because I don’t recall exactly where I got each fact, just that I have been mentally compiling them for months now. Anyways, there are thousands of resources out there to review if someone wants academic opinions.


Domestic Open Adoption

International Adoption
Race Check boxes on the application forms of which races you are willing to accept. (Father’s race may or may not be known) Choose the country you plan to adopt from and choose the race and ethnicity of the child.
Age Almost always adopt an infant. This varies depending on the country. It is virtually impossible to get an infant through international adoption due to international requirements for the birth counties to try to place the child within the birth country first. One way to adopt a younger child is by accepting a child with physical disabilities.
Premature Birth Check a box which indicates your willingness to accept a premature birth. Unknown.
Medical History Usually have birth mother’s medical history. Sometimes have birth father’s medical history Unknown. Medical testing is available to confirm current medical condition of the child.
Birth Mother Alcohol and Drug Use Check a box to indicate your preference – low, medium or high Unknown; however, there are many statistics on the occurrence based on the county (i.e. Eastern Block countries have higher FAS ratios then Southeast Asia).
Birth Parent Involvement Open adoption. Involvement can vary from sending letters/photos to weekly visits.   This is not set out in a contractual agreement in my province, so it is hard to say exactly what this will look like through the life of the child. None.
Wait Times Average 3 years. Usually there are about 300 families on the wait list, with about 40-50 adoptions occurring per year. Depends on the country. Usually about 3 years.Your willingness to accept a child with physical disabilities (which may or may not be fixable/treatable in Canada) will typically speed up the adoption process quite substantially.
Psychological Support for Birth Families This service is required as part of the adoption process and is offered after the adoption is complete should the birth family wish to use it (although, apparently, most chose not to). Depends on the country, but is generally not available to the same level as would be for birth parents in Canada.
Cost ($) Approx. 13,000-15,000

Approx. 20,000-60,000


So, there are probably about 100 different ways to interpret the above chart, to help us make a decision.

In my rational mind, domestic adoption outweighs international adoption. For me, there appears to be less risk because there is much more known about the birth mother and birth family. There are also the clear benefits of the child having connection with their birth family. Oh, and we clearly cannot overlook the financial element – domestic adoption is clearly much more affordable.

Yet, I also think the benefits of international cannot be overlooked. First, my husband and I are pretty reserved individuals, the idea of opening our house up to birth parents on a potentially weekly basis really doesn’t interest us. We’ve chosen to live a number of hours away from our parents because we like our freedom and we like keeping to ourselves, so the idea of completely changing our lifestyle to accommodate a larger birth family, isn’t a top priority for us, I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t even make the priority list. The only way to avoid this potential issues altogether is to choose international adoption. Secondly, our private financial information is not shared beyond that of the adoption agency of the adoptive countries government agencies. We do not have to open our private details up to birth parents to know the most private details of our lives including our address and our income. Thirdly, although my husband continues to remind me, we are not turning to adoption to save the world, I cannot overlook the fact that I see international adoption as helping a child that really needs help. Helping a child that may live its entire childhood in an institution, if not for an international adoption by people like us. Making a tremendous impact on the child’s life. If we are going to roll the dice on cognitive development, why not change the life of a child who really needs it? (I’m not trying to say that domestic open-adoption isn’t helping a child – I’m just saying it is not the same type of need. The reality is, that if we don’t pursue domestic adoption, 300 other potential adoptive parents are already on the wait list at any given time. So, we aren’t “needed” in the same way).

Anyways, again, I have no answers (wow, this sure is the theme of all my adoption posts), but what I do have is knowledge (in the form a chart and spreadsheets, because that’s just how I think). And, what this means, is we can easily see the pros and cons (as defined by us) of each type of adoption, which will be a valuable tool for us as we work to make a final decision regarding the possibility of adoption.

If you like this post, please feel free to share it and please return to to follow my journey.

34 Comments on “International vs. Domestic Adoption

  1. I love the research that you did and how you broke it down. I always thought or was told by others that international was easier and faster, just that there was a lot more paper work. But that’s not necessarily true. I agree with you in all the points you made and if we ever get to that point where adoption is our only answer to a child I think domestic is the best. Simply because it seems you can get a lot more information on the child and its history. Good Luck to you! You have done your research well!


    • What we’ve learned, at least in the Canadian context, is that international used to be easier and faster – about 15-10 years ago. Now there are a lot more restrictions in place to help reduce things like child trafficking, so the process is a lot slower now.
      Anyways, we too are not sure if we will move forward with adoption, but I know figuring out this stuff will help us make that decision eventually.
      Good luck to you as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for writing this post. I often think about adoption too and it’s so difficult to make an informed decision because there is just SO much information out there. So much to process.


    • The information available is absolutely insane. And a lot of it is contradictory, which is just frustrating. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed with it all, which is part of why I make charts. 🙂


  3. Oh, this sounds so familiar. We had 6 pregnancy losses and turned to adoption because we felt like out family was missing someone and maybe my uterus was not the way to go! We went international for two reasons: 1) we – like you – did not want hordes of birth family in our life. 2) we have an older child (she was 2.5). The 6 month waiting period that the birthother had to change her mind was unacceptable to is because of our child. How would you explain to a two year old that her brother was “being returned”?
    However, now that we have our son (adopted from Korea at 5 months, 8 years ago) I wish nothing more than we could find his birth family. That he could have some sort of contact that would let him know where he originally came from. That there was someone who could answer his questions. How much contact you have with the birth family is 100% up to you. I have one friend who sends school photos and a yearly update to the birth grandmother and another who has the birth family at all holiday parties and other functions. It works for both of them because that was their individual comfort level. If we had to do it again, given that Korea only sends home toddlers and that we know the ache a lot of kids feel to know about their past, we would go with domestic and take our chances with our daughter’s questions!


    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience. First, I hate that you had to also experience so many miscarraiges, but I love that you have the “happy” ending with 2 children.
      Your perspective generated a lot of conversation between my husband and I because it is so interesting to hear that you now wish for some sort of contact with the birth parents. And, we’ve heard from people who have done open adoptions that they too wish for more contact with the birth families. So, it sounds like a recurring theme, which is something we cannot ignore. And, like you, we are petrified of the waiting period that goes along with a local adoption – although here it is only 10 days. I just don’t think I could bare having to give back the child. But, to hear that now, years later, you’d take the risk is truly interesting to us.
      Anyways, thanks again! We truly appreciate your perspective.


  4. I just found your blog and I really enjoyed your post. 🙂 Amazing blog! I just started blogging with my sister a couple of weeks ago and this blog is really inspirational! ^_^


  5. Wow! Thank you or doing the research and posting this. There is so much that goes into adoption. Thoughts are with you as you make important decisions and i know that whatever you choose to do will be perfect for you and you husband. Xo


    • I do love doing research…it can become a bit obsessive sometimes when I get interested in the topic.
      Thanks for your support. I really don’t know what we will decided – I change my mind frequently and so does my husband. But, the one thing we both agree on all the time is that we need to make an educated decision and we will respect the process required to get there (or at least we will try to). 🙂


    • Thanks so much for your encouragement! We too really are not sure what we will decide about adoption, and we are not sure if we are “there” just yet, but we want to make sure we can eventually make an educated decision. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I know, I know, there are so many questions it is at times overwhelming. Okay that is a lie… it is pretty much always overwhelming 🙂
    I have thought about these questions myself, in Australia you could be waiting up to 7 years for domestic adoption! So overseas is usually the way to go as it is much, much quicker. One thing I would recommend you looking into for overseas adoptions is what they consider a “special needs” child. I have found that some children are labelled “special needs” for conditions like asthma and other such illnesses that are completely and easily treatable. Often in these countries the adoption time can be as low as a year. I have been looking at one in China which specialises in “special needs” children, some of them do have more serious disabilities or conditions, but some of them are easily operable: there is a young boy who has a twisted urethra, that is a very small operation here. I know you are likely over options, but I figured it was worth mentioning. 🙂 Best of luck.


    • I think you make a good point regarding special needs. I should actually add that to the list because we too have looked into it, although not in-depth at this point. We have been told that many special needs children are actually relatively healthy, and with the health care available in Canada, can be “fixed” pretty easily and quickly. And we have also been told that adopting a special needs child will drastically speed up the process. Anyways, thanks for bringing this one up! It’s such a great point.


      • I hope I haven’t made it more difficult for you. The place I have been looking at that seems to have a good reputation and has been in “business” since 2000, is called New Day Foster Home. They take in both serious special needs children as well as low level special children. The majority of the children have been abandoned or surrendered into care. They seem to be quite upfront about what the children have from my understanding.
        I am well and truly on the adoption wagon, but Hubby isn’t at that point yet so I am over-informing myself so that if he comes to that point we are well ahead 🙂
        Thank you for sharing the questions you are coming up against, it was very informative and some of them I haven’t thought of such as race of the child. I never considered that because for me myself I just consider all children such a gift that I never thought about selecting. Does that sound strange?


      • Thanks for sharing the name of the organization. We haven’t started looking at international adoption organizations yet, so this is good information to have should we take that next step.
        Funny enough, my husband was slower to get on the adoption wagon, but now I’m the one that’s more reluctant to do it. But, that could all change tomorrow since we cannot seem to make up our minds! 🙂
        And, I also had never considered the issues surrounding race – so it doesn’t sound strange to me that you wouldn’t either. But, once my husband pointed it out, I have to agree that even thoughts is super awkward to think about, it is a fair concern if for no other reason then we need to be sure that we can raise the child and deal with potential issues that may or may not arise.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. To my knowledge your list looks very complete. We adopted five times from China and the last three were special needs. All of them were older than 3 years old. Paperwork is the same though for any child including medical information.

    We can answer questions for you anytime for that specific venue.


    • Thanks so much for sharing your experience. China is one of the countries we are considering, so I always enjoy your posts on your trips to China – I feel like I can get a glimpse into what we could expect. And, thank you very much for the offer to answer questions when we get to that point – I may just take you up on that eventually.


  8. thank you for listing the differences in the table. It provides good information for my future reference. Like you said, it is not an easy decision. So many factors to consider, for both pros and cons. 😦


    • I need the chart to help digest and interpret the information, so I thought I’d share it when it was filled in. I’m glad that it may help others in the future with there decisions. Wishing you the best as you move forward and make some hard decisions.


  9. This was really interesting, thank you for laying out all your research like this. So much thought and decision-making has to go into the adoption process, it’s pretty overwhelming. Really wishing you the best as you navigate your own decision making process.


    • It is so unbelievably complicated and therefore overwhelming. Hence why I finally made a chart – for me, it somehow made everything a bit easier to digest. 🙂
      And thank you for your positive encouragement – I have no idea where we will end up on this RPL and possible adoption journey. I too am wishing you the best with all of it.


  10. One other thing to consider with international adoption is the political climate of the country you choose. At one point there were a number of placements from Russia, but those that slowed way down (especially to the U.S.) due to political situations. A change in government has the risk of derailing your adoption that you would not face domestically.


  11. Pingback: Determining When Enough is Enough | My Perfect Breakdown

  12. Pingback: Our Light at the End of the Tunnel | My Perfect Breakdown

  13. Pingback: How To Tackle the Adoption Process | My Perfect Breakdown

  14. Pingback: Curiosity About Adoption Choices | My Perfect Breakdown

  15. Pingback: Keeping Up With the Kardashian’s & Complaining | My Perfect Breakdown

  16. Pingback: We Have a Problem (and It’s an Expensive One) | My Perfect Breakdown

  17. Pingback: What Are We Going To Do? | My Perfect Breakdown

  18. Pingback: Adoption Profile Book | My Perfect Breakdown

Thoughts? I love hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: