Foreign Adoptions Carry Unique Risks
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About 1,500 American families, including some New Jersey residents, recently had their dreams shattered when a bill banning Russian orphan adoptions by U.S. citizens was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a move that highlights one of the risks of international adoptions. (1)
Each year thousands of Americans turn to foreign countries to adopt. One reason international adoptions are so popular is that the time and expense involved in the process is often more predictable than when adopting a domestic child. A major drawback is that when and if relations between the U.S. and the foreign country fall apart, these adoptions can be stopped – even in mid-process — leading to heartache for the adoptive parents and children alike.
In 2011 U.S. families adopted 9,319 children from foreign countries; of those, 962 children were from Russia. These foreign adoptions are usually arranged by private, non-profit agencies. Typically around 83% of adoptive parents are matched with children in less than one year. The waiting time to adopt healthy infants in the U.S. can range from 1 to 7years, whereas, international adoptions typically take between 6 and 18 months. (2) For someone anxious to start or expand their family, that difference can seem like a lifetime.
Anyone considering an international adoption should be aware of certain issues they may face. The health and background information they receive on their child may not be complete or reliable. Also, as political relationships between countries change, these adoptions can be opened or closed on a whim, (2) as evidenced by the recent action in Russia.
New Jersey automatically recognizes foreign adoptions as long as the adoptive parents are U.S. citizens and residents of the State. However, it is recommended that those who successfully adopt a foreign child go through a re-adoption process. A New Jersey Judgment of Adoption can offer certain protections to parents and children that may be lacking in a foreign adoption decree. It also helps solidify the child’s inheritance rights. Costs associated with a re-adoption, on average, are notably less than the cost of a domestic adoption. (3)
For those who prefer to adopt a domestic child, the New Jersey Department of Children & Families successfully places more than 1,000 children each year. All children adopted through this Division are special needs children. The waiting time to complete these adoptions depends on a number of things: the type of child referred for placement; the background of the prospective adoptive family; and the family’s flexibility concerning the child’s needs. (3)
Adoptions, whether domestic or foreign, are complicated matters. To assure a successful outcome and avoid heartache, you should seek the advice of a qualified and experienced family law attorney. If you or someone you know needs assistance with an adoption issue, contact the family law attorneys at The Rotolo Law Firm located at 502 Route 22 West, Lebanon, NJ.