Special-Needs and International Adoptions Not Easier


I am a CPA and a mom via adoption times two. I was baffled to read in the April 2010 article “Tax Treatment of Adoption Expenses” (page 44) that adoptive parents “may want to give more consideration to a special-needs child or international adoption, both of which can often be processed more quickly than domestic private adoptions.” I am wondering how the author came to this conclusion. In my experience, no part of this quoted sentence can be applied so broadly and still be accurate. My friends who have adopted internationally have waited years to bring one child home, and, in some cases, have found themselves having to go live in that foreign country for months or years before being able to bring their child home. On the other hand, our adoption of our healthy newborn son who was born here in Washington state took three months from orientation to finalization. International adoption only seems to be getting tougher and more complicated, and timelines are getting longer.


I’m not sure I agree with the comment that adopting a special-needs child is quicker either. It may be that it is quicker to be selected for a special-needs child, but it is not quicker to finalize a special-needs adoption. Post-placement supervisory periods are longer in special-needs placements.


I hope you do not misunderstand my comments as discouraging international or special-needs adoptions. I am fully supportive of all kinds of adoptions. I am simply stating that the author’s statement regarding timelines to finalize adoptions is not consistent with what I have seen in adoption today.


Suzi Graden, CPA

Wenatchee, Wash.



Author’s reply: I regret what may have been an overgeneralization. You are correct that international adoption can be a drawn-out process taking longer than domestic adoption, but this seems to depend on the country and other circumstances. When I researched the topic, I consulted adoption statistics and contacted adoptive parents to receive input from “real people.” From these sources I was under the impression that China has especially long waiting periods (I have heard three years or longer). I understand that adoptions from Russia have become more difficult as well—especially after the recent tragic incident where a mother sent an adopted child back to Russia. On the other hand, I understand that for some other countries the waiting periods are much shorter. I was advised by an adoptive parent to use South Korea in my example. Other evidence also suggests that processing time by South Korean officials may in some cases be less than a year (see, for example, tinyurl.com/2at9nj4).


Sonja Pippin, Ph.D.

Reno, Nev



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