Adoption wars: Domestic vs. International

We’re thrilled to bring today’s guest post by Dawn Davenport.
Dawn is the author of
The Complete Book of International
Adoption (Random House), a lawyer, and a writer that
specializes in adoption, infertility, and children’s issues. 
Her website (, her internet radio show
(Creating a Family) and her book provide resources for alternative
ways to build a family.

I get the question a lot about which form of adoption is best:
international adoption or domestic.  International and domestic
adoption appeal to different people for different reasons. 
Neither is inherently better than the other, although one or the
other may be better for you.  I hate the competition that
sometimes surfaces between proponents of either domestic or
international adoption, with each side attempting to scare
prospective families away from the other choice.  Anytime a family
finds a child and a child finds a family, regardless if that child
is from Beijing or Boston, the world is a better place.

Private domestic adoption, domestic foster care adoption, and
international adoption are completely different systems with
different rules and requirements.  Each system appeals to
different people and each system has different requirements that
may exclude some potential parents.  For example, older parents or
single parents are usually not chosen as readily by birth
mothers/first mothers so they might opt for either foster care or
international adoption.  With most foreign countries, openness
about sexual orientation is not an option, with some specifically
prohibiting placement.  Some families might not be able to handle
the uncertainties of the foster-to-adopt program, while others
might view this as the safest way to see if an older child fits
well into the family.

In my experience, most people will instinctively feel more
comfortable with one type of adoption depending on their

  • The top priority for parents who are drawn to domestic private
    adoption is getting a child as young as possible with as much
    health information as possible.
  • The top priority for parents who are drawn to the public foster
    care system is providing a home for a child who really needs them
    and the low cost.
  • The top priorities for parents who are drawn to international
    adoption are the predictability of knowing that they will get a
    baby or toddler within a set period of time and a discomfort with
    the domestic adoption process (for example, the amount of time a
    birth parent has to revoke their consent to adopt or open adoption
    post placement).

But, here’s the real point of this post: we should support each
other’s choices.  What works for you might not work for me. 
The type of adoption that seems easy to you might not be easy for
me.  The type of adoption that embraces you might reject me. 
Somewhere out there, your child is waiting. Try to be open to all