Domestic versus International Adoption

Every adoption journey starts differently, but they often have many decisions and considerations in common. One of the first decisions many couples need to make is whether they wish to pursue a domestic or an international adoption.

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about both domestic and international adoptions that can lead people to make poor choices or feel lost in the process. To help you know what’s best for your adoption journey, we’ve put together this short guide comparing domestic and international adoption.


One frequent misconception about international adoption is that it’s an inexpensive alternative to a domestic adoption. In fact, many international adoptions cost just as much or more than a domestic adoption would, especially when taking all expenses into account.

The differences in cost between domestic and international adoptions are usually due to different needs and expectations through the process. For instance, international adoptions usually don’t involve the adoptive family paying living expenses for the birth mother. However, you will need to budget additional money for travel, visas, and government paperwork that is not necessary when adopting domestically.

Waiting Periods

In both domestic and international adoption, wait times are hard to predict. Some adoptive families get matched with a birth mother relatively quickly, while others can wait months or years for their adoption to proceed. In general, domestic adoptions tend to proceed more quickly once a match has been made, but adopting internationally might make it easier to find a waiting child.

One thing to consider is that international adoptions from different countries don’t all proceed at the same rate. Different countries have different requirements and standards, so wait times can vary dramatically between different nations.

Another complication regarding waiting periods is that international adoptions, as a whole, are less popular than domestic adoptions. While it may be easier to match with a child once you are approved to adopt internationally, it can take longer to find a qualified agency that works in your chosen country and to find a child who will fit with your family.

Medical and Family Background

One of the biggest disadvantages of international adoption compared to domestic adoption is the relative lack of family history and medical information. International medical records are often minimal or totally unavailable, and they could also be in a language you and your doctor do not speak. It could be difficult or impossible to find information about the medical history of your child or his or her birth parents. It’s also more difficult to “filter” available children in international adoptions based on any medical or psychological diagnoses.

In contrast, domestic adoptions almost always include detailed medical records and social histories for relevant family members. Domestic adoptions also allow you to specify any issues or circumstances you can or cannot accept with regards to your adopted child’s health.

Legal Issues

Finally, both domestic and international adoptions present their own sets of legal challenges.

In international adoptions, legal requirements and exceptions can be numerous and difficult to understand. If you are considering adopting from a certain country you should do your research thoroughly and hire an agency with experience. The last thing you want is for a legal oversight or unknown requirement to place your adoption in jeopardy.

Domestic adoptions pose their own legal concerns, but in general they are much more understood and easier to work around. Adoption is a well-established concept in United States law, and the courts have upheld adoptive parents’ rights across a broad spectrum of legal challenges.

Learn More About Adoption Today

If you have more questions about the adoption process or you want to take the next steps in your own adoption journey, contact us today at Deaconess Pregnancy and Adoption. Our adoption agency is the oldest and most experienced in Oklahoma, and our experts will help you navigate every part of the adoption process. Call (405) 949-4200 today to learn more, or visit us on Facebook to get more tips and see stories and pictures of some of our created families.