Adopting From Countries Without Active Adoption ProgramsQ: How do I adopt from a country that places very few children in the US? For example, in the last several weeks I’ve been asked about Honduras, Jordan, Lebanon, and El Salvador.

A: There are several ways to find basic information about adopting from a specific country. For starters, Creating a Family has Adoption Comparison Charts for the top countries that send children for international adoption in the United States. We include information on the 25 factors we think parents should consider when choosing a country from which to adopt. We only have charts for the top placing countries, so likely you won’t find a chart for the smaller sending country. We strongly encourage you to read through a couple of the adoption charts to see what type of factors you need to think about and ask questions about before you settle on a country.

The first place to look for information on the process and advisability of adopting from any country is the US State Department web page on country specific information. While not always completely up to date, this site is by far the most reliable and complete source of basic information. Be wary of commercial sites as a source of information if they are trying to sell you something (e.g. pay an application fee).

At the State Department site, a couple of items are of particular interest. First, pay particular attention to the section on the number of adoption to the US. If there are very few international adoptions to the US, you need to be aware that you are stepping off the well-trod path, and you should expect a bumpy ride. Second, look at the requirements for adoptive parents and make sure that you qualify. In addition, I would suggest that you contact via email the Consular Section at the US Embassy in that country.  Ask questions about the length of the process, any recent road blocks that you should be aware of.

Adoption agencies don’t often have programs in the countries that send very few kids to the US.  The Universal Accreditation Act requires all international adoptions use a Hague accredited adoption agency and parents are no longer allowed to adopt independently.  The Universal Accreditation Act is new and it remains to be seen how it will affect adoptions in countries with very few US adoptions.  Check out the Creating a Family show on the Universal Accreditation Act for more about how it will affect international adoptions.

Unless you speak the language of the country, communication will be a big problem. I cannot stress enough how important it is to find an attorney that knows what she is doing. I hear a lot of horror stories from where I sit, and you must protect yourself, your heart, and your money. Ask the US Consulate Office is they know of any agencies that place from that country.

It will be hard to find a support group, even online, if the country places very few children for international adoption. If the country is near another country that has an active international adoption program, join the support group for that country. For example, many of the support groups for Guatemalan adoptions also offer information and support for other Central American countries.

Image credit: Alpstedt