On a weekly basis, our agency receives many inquiries from families wishing to adopt healthy infants internationally. As I type my responses to these families, I know most will be surprised and disappointed by what I have to tell them: There are almost no sending countries left that place healthy infants and those that do may come with requirements or referral waits that prevent families from moving forward.
Take Armenia, for example. This program has historically referred a certain number of relatively healthy infants that have joined their families between the ages of 8 and 12 months. Wait times in this program for such referrals used to be a few years, but families pursuing a healthy infant from Armenia now must be prepared to wait six or more years from dossier registration. It’s expected that there will be no more than two relatively healthy infants per year matched with US adopters at best. This program requires two trips: approximately 7 days to register with the child and then 23 days to complete the process. If married, both parents must attend court.
On the other side of the coin, the adoption of a relatively healthy infant from Morocco can be completed in as little as one year, including a single trip of approximately one month. The caveat with this program: It’s open only to practicing Sunni Muslims and almost all infant adoptions are of boys with girls being a rare exception. Similarly, Pakistan accepts practicing Muslims only, with a preference for families of Pakistani descent, and families must spend about six months in-country to complete the adoption of any child, including a healthy infant. Both parents, if married, must attend court.
Families may also adopt healthy infants from the Marshall Islands with wait times that usually do not exceed 18 months from dossier submission. However, international adoptive parents in this program must agree to maintain an open and lasting relationship with the child’s biological family who usually cares for the baby until the time of adoption. This program requires one trip of four to six weeks during which all members, including any minor children, in the adoptive family must be present until the court process has concluded. Then one parent and any children, excluding the new adoptee, may return to the US.
While Korea still refers relatively healthy infants, these children - primarily boys with resolved medical diagnoses or under follow up for conditions considered minor in the US - do not join their families until they are 18 to 30 months of age. An adoption from Korea can take up to 36 months, including two approximately week-long trips to the country. Both parents must be between 25 and 44 years of age, with few exceptions.
Prospective adoptive parents of Indian heritage can be matched with healthy infants from India. This program requires at least one trip of minimally ten days, depending on the child’s region.
International adoptions of healthy infants are becoming increasingly elusive as social, economic and cultural conditions change in sending countries and as evolving legal frameworks expand the time needed to clear a child for international adoption. Families pursuing referrals of healthy infants from other countries may also find that requirements, such as referral waits, length of in-country stay, and maximum parent age, deter or prohibit them from adopting a healthy infant internationally. Here at Hopscotch Adoption, we encourage families looking to adopt relatively healthy infants to explore private domestic adoption options and to learn more about special needs and/or older child adoption to see if their child parameters can expand with increased understanding and knowledge.
Always remember, what may seem like a serious special need in a developing nation, can be relatively easily managed with the USA. For that reason, we encourage families to visit the RainbowKids waiting child photolisting, where children of all ages wait to be united with their adoptive families.