When you first begin to consider adoption, there may seem to be so many possible paths that it can feel overwhelming. One of the first either/or decisions is international adoption vs. domestic adoption. Both have advantages, but the processes can be very different.

Domestic adoption

Domestic adoption involves adopting a child who is already a citizen of the same country as the adoptive parents. This process often begins by connecting with an adoption professional specializing in placing children in need of loving homes. This may be an adoption lawyer or an adoption agency. They will partner with the child’s birth family or the foster care system to navigate the legal and emotional complexities of adoption.

Domestic adoption can be a more open process compared to international adoption. Birth parents might choose open adoption, allowing for communication and potential meetings before and after the placement. This openness can be emotionally complex but also fosters a sense of connection and shared purpose in building a future for the child.

The wait time for domestic adoption can vary depending on factors like age preference, openness to special needs, and geographical location. Some hopeful parents might choose to adopt an older child or a sibling group, which can be very rewarding but also comes with its own set of considerations.

International adoption

International adoption allows families to welcome a child from another country into their home. This path can be enriching, fostering cultural exchange and expanding the family’s worldview. Adoptive parents might choose to adopt from a specific country due to cultural heritage or a personal connection to a particular region.

International adoption processes can be more complex and lengthy compared to domestic adoption. This type of adoption often involves working with a Hague-accredited adoption agency, adhering to international regulations, and navigating unfamiliar legal systems. Immigration procedures are required for children from other countries. Cultural differences and potential language barriers can add another layer of complexity.

International adoption can be emotionally demanding, with the wait times sometimes extending for years. There might be uncertainty regarding the child’s medical history or background information. Sometimes children have been in traumatic situations before adoption and sometimes being brought to a new country can itself be traumatic. Additionally, the travel required to complete the adoption process can be stressful and expensive.


We have heard of parents choosing international adoption because they believed that it would be less expensive or because they wanted to avoid open adoption. If these or similar beliefs make you hesitate to try domestic adoption, please talk with us before you make that decision. International adoption can be a wonderful experience for those who are called to it, but domestic adoption is usually a simpler process.

The most important factor is finding the perfect match for your family – a child who will be cherished and loved unconditionally. Think about your family’s values, openness to cultural differences, and emotional and financial capacity when you consider international adoption vs. domestic adoption.

Building a family

Regardless of the path chosen, adoption is a beautiful and life-changing experience. Heimer Law offers free consultations for people wishing to adopt.

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