Monday, April 13, 2009

So which countries do allow Single Parent Adoptions?

Okay, here's the facts ma'ams (and sir's), nothing but the facts.

Fewer countries today allow singles to adopt. There is no doubt about it. China, the largest sending country of in-need children to the USA codified new laws restricting many potential parents from adoption, including singles, obese, those with chronic health issues, and those who had even taken an anti-depressant. This change, in 2007, by itself was a significant blow to single parents everywhere. This is where Daisy, Meg Ryans daughter was born, and had been the number 1 option for singles. It was (and still is, btw, if you are a happily married couple with no health issues) one of the most ethical, stable and least costly countries to adopt from.

Last year, Guatemala was effectively shut down because enough systematic corruption in the adoption system there deemed that as an appropriate move. Vietnam, same story. Ditto for Cambodia. Kryzykhstan will soon be following. For several years Bulgaria has effectively stopped any adoptions to the USA as well, while it worked on their Hague program compliancy. Theoretically they are opened to singles, however I see no evidence that any non special needs children are being referred to non-EU nations. With maybe the exception of Bulgaria, I honestly do not see evidence that any of these countries programs will be open to US citizens in the short to medium term.

This is all happening at a time where single parent adoption has received enough good (and bad) media coverage for it to gradual become something thought of as possible in the social consciousness of singles and our society in general.

So this brings me to my point. Where can a single person focus their adoptive hopes and dreams realistically if they wish to adopt a non-special needs child? Here's what my months of research have found.

1)USA foster care. The average age of referred child is 5 years old, so you will most likely not be receiving an infant child. Which btw, is good for many singles, including those just not willing to go through that not sleeping through the night stuff. There are many things to consider with older child adoption, which tend to come with their own additional risks and rewards, but, this is a viable option. Many foster care children are hopeful to be reunited with birth families, but there are also children in every state whose parental rights have been terminated for cause. Children's ethnicity is split pretty evenly between the three major US populations: I believe the stats are 33% Caucasian, 31% African American, and 26% Hispanic.

2) Russia. This is the second largest referring countries of in-need children to the USA. It is an extremely large decentralized system, which has many children in desperate need, but also tends to be not as stable as many programs, starting and stopping with infuriating regularity. That said, many good healthy adoptions are completed each year from this country. It is one of, if not the most expensive programs. Because of a large holding period before release from the state-system, you would be fooling yourself to expect a child younger than 18 months. Children are of primarily caucasian/russian decent, though some asian heritage is also found.

3) Ethiopia. This has been an extremely popular choice for singles during the past two years: the country has much need, the infants are generally well cared for, and the system works effectively and efficiently sending children at a very young age (sometimes as young as 3 or 4 months) greatly reducing the traumatic consequences of institutional care. Because of the surge in numbers of singles due to the shutdown of programs mentioned above, Ethiopia has created a quota system for single parents. I believe this to be 10 singles per agency per year. So realistically this means that you will probably have a little bit of a wait, and go on the 'waiting list' at a reputable agency. Fees for this country are reasonable and travel time is minimal.

4) Kazakhstan. This former Soviet Republic has a centralized reasonably stable system. Children are between the ages of 8 months and a year generally at referral. One key difference in this program is that a parent must stay in country a minimum of 3 weeks for the first trip, to comply with state mandated bonding time, and then can either stay on an addition 2 or 3 weeks to finalize the adoption, or return for a second trip. Because of the extensive travel costs involved, Kazakhstan is also an expensive option. Children are primarily of asian decent.

5) USA - yes singles can adopt. The USA adoption system is a private one, meaning the birthmom chooses the parents either during pregnancy or shortly after birth. There are no statistics which state how many single parents acheive adoption this way, however, if you are significantly above average is some way that will make you stand out from the crowd of two parent, 1 dog, 1 cat, churchgoing, 3 car garage suburbanites it might be worth a shot. Contact a good reputable adoption attorney. I think the wait might be long, and the chances not high, but it is not impossible. Callista Flockhart adopted this way.

6) Taiwan. Similar to the USA system, Taiwan is a private adoption system where the birth mom will select the parents of the child. This will require a good adoption attorney/ private adoption agency and in country agency to ascertain the statistical likelihood of this option. Single applicants should expect to be adopting older children.

7) Armenia. This is a relatively (okay, very) small program that until recently was closed to all but adoptive parents of Armenia and Christian heritage. This has recently changed and now allows all ethnic backgrounds and mainstream faiths. This program does insist that you are active in your faith however. There is only one agency (maybe two) that I know work in this country however, it does seem to work well, and from most accounts I've heard people are indeed happy with the program and agency. I believe the costs are reasonable too.

8) Georgia. I see this program as similar to the Armenia program. It is very small, but adoptions are open to singles. There are very few active agencies in Georgia, and it would be important to discuss the actual process with recently adoptive families. I cannot verify this, but I have a suspicion there will be a strong preference, if not requirement for a active Christian background.

8) Brazil. This program is available to singles, though doesn't seem to make the radar as often. The process is longer than most and the costs are higher, and similar to Kazakhstan, in country required stays are as long as a month. Children will be above the age of 3, which again may suit some parental preferences.

9) India. The country is open to singles, and also only will have available children 3 or above. It is worth noting that parents of Indian heritage are given strong preference. The time period to adopt after referral is longer than most, averaging around a year. The fees for India are some of the more reasonable currently available to singles.

10) Mexico. Despite its proximity the number of adoptions from US citizens of Mexican minors remains around 100 a year. This program is open to singles however, the Mexican government makes a very genuine effort to place children within Mexico and with relatives, sometimes at the risk of allowing children to spend much needless time in state care. Though infants are reported to be available from the age of 4 months, I would suspect that this is very rare. Parents hoping to adopt from Mexico should expect pre-school aged referrals. The adoption process in Mexico is reported to be rather difficult and complicated so finding a reputable agency is a bit more difficult that other countries. However, as the process is decentralized (authority is at the state level) it is imperative to do your homework and get a good agency or facilitator.

Not listed but are open for singles: Haiti, Nepal. You can take your chances with these adoption programs. It is my believe that these programs are rife with corruption and will be risky for both your time, money, and mental health, and your participation in these programs could be hindering the cause of the children as a whole. I see Haiti and entering this dead zone. Nepal is coming out of the deadzone, but preliminary indications are that the problems have not been remedied. I could be wrong, but I would wait and see if your heart is set on Nepal. Bulgaria, as I mentioned in the opening, is one where the program looks like its got itself sorted, however, until real referrals are happening, I think its also a wait and see.

There are of course other options, this list is hardly exhaustive. Things change quickly so while I'm pretty sure this information is accurate as of today, tomorrow it may be different!

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