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Most families travel to receive their child. The duration and timing of these trips vary depending on the legal requirements in the birth country. These requirements are subject to change, sometimes abruptly. The experience for prospective parents depends a great deal on the amount and quality of information available about the child prior to travel. The experience for the child relates to the child's age and preparation for adoption, as well as details of how the transition to the adoptive parents occurs. In most countries, families do not travel until a court date has been designated. The parents may arrive in the country only a day or two before the court date. Within several days, they receive the child and finalize the adoption, negotiating any necessary legal and bureaucratic hurdles.

In some countries, an interval between meeting the child and the formal adoption is legally mandated, or a period of "residence" in the country is required, ranging from 1 to 12 weeks. Most regions in Russia require two trips for adoptive parents. Families receive minimal information about the child prior to the first trip. After meeting the child, they receive more detailed information if they indicate willingness to proceed with the adoption. A court date is set for 2-12 weeks in the future, at which time families return to complete the legal process. In Ukraine, families receive no information about a specific child prior to travel, but are offered a series of dossiers to review at the National Adoption Center until a "satisfactory candidate" is identified. Information about the child is then provided and the parents are taken to meet the child. If the parents accept the child, a court date follows quickly and the adoption is finalized. After a 1-month waiting period, the parents may assume custody of the child. In contrast, most Korean children are often escorted to the United States and first meet their families at the airport. The specific legal requirements of frequent sending countries are available at the website for the United States Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.


From THE HANDBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION MEDICINE by Laurie C. Miller. © 2004 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Used by Permission.


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