How Do I Adopt an Orphan?

When it comes to adoption, many people have misconceptions about the children waiting for homes. Are they truly orphans or do they have biological family that may complicate the picture down the line? It’s fairly common for adopting parents to desire not to share their newly-found-forever-family with their child’s biological family. So how do you adopt an orphan?

Well, first we must define ‘orphan.’ These may be children that were abandoned by their biological family entirely or children whose parents are dead or otherwise unreachable.

In the United States, prior to adoption, all relatives of the child are contacted and given the ability to adopt a child who needs a home first. Usually, the foster family is next on the list. If that isn’t a permanent situation, the child is added to the waiting list. Each adoption situation IS completely unique, therefore finding a child who has been orphaned may prove challenging. However, your social worker will have access to the files and match you with children who meet these unique criteria.

International adoption is often seen as the path to adopting an orphan. Though the laws are always changing, many countries still have orphanages that house children available to adopt who do not have any family. International adoption also brings to light the other challenges that come with adopting a child from an orphanage. Usually, attachment issues are assumed, but there are often many other unknowns. Parents of some of the abandoned children report things like not knowing their child’s birth date, as they were found on the side of the road.

While adoption is a beautiful thing born of trauma, adopting an orphan  from another country may also include necessary understanding and counseling for all involved. For example, one mother (who had adopted an orphaned girl from Korea) told a story about taking her daughter to a Korean Museum one day, and discovering her daughter in tears and upset for the rest of the day. She was in mourning. Not only did she lose her family of origin, but “she felt her country gave up on her too.” Being prepared to mourn with her would have been helpful.