Family’s International Adoption Story Showcases Flawed System
REXBURG, Idaho—“It was frustrating.” “I don’t know.” “It made no sense.” These were some of the phrases that Lori Prince kept using as she recounted her experience with international adoption.
Confusion seems to be the name of the game when it comes to international adoption, which may be why the number of international adoptions in the US fell 50 percent from 2004 to 2011.
The Prince family started on their journey of adopting their new son Ignacio in June 2013 and finished this Sept. While there story is unique in many ways—In large part due to the fact that Ignacio is 16 and from Ecuador—but their story mirrors the struggle most families experience when deciding to adopt internationally.
The Prince’s gave up their Christmas in 2012 to travel to Ecuador and do philanthropic work at an orphanage owned by the local non-profit, Dando Amor. This is the kind of poster family that the Prince’s are: The perfect unlikely candidates for an adoptive family. It was there that they met and became enamored by Ignacio, a kind and faith filled young man that has a wonderful sense of humor.
When they began the process of adopting Ignacio, they found that it would be far more difficult than they’d ever imagined, and so it goes with so many families across the country.
“I kind of thought, do these people even realize that this is absolutely ridiculous?” Prince asked. “Do they know how many kids are here that are orphaned and how many people there are that would do this but they can’t afford it or they make it too hard?”
The trials range from the cost of adoption, the time it can take and the bureaucratic nightmare that has been created from such international legislation as the Hague Convention.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway sites that inter-country adoptions generally cost $15,000 – $30,000—The State department reports that the highest country’s average is South Africa at $160,217. But for many families, the prices soar far higher. The average sits at $28,000.
Not only are the prices high, but an understanding of where the money goes is limited at best. The Princes experienced $10,000 ‘paper processing fee’. Prices do vary between countries but two thirds of their costs were incurred through the United States government.
“I think one of the first things I would want to know is, where is all this money going that you’re paying for?” Prince asked. “You can’t put a price on someone’s life but who are we paying and what is it going toward? I don’t understand. There’s so many people that have asked, ‘how much has this cost because I would very much consider doing this?’ And then they found out the cost and they just said, ‘there’s no way we could do that. There’s no way we can afford that’.”
To Lori’s point about how many children are in need of a home worldwide, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute reports that, “There are 17,900,000 orphans who have lost both parents and are living in orphanages or on the streets and lack the care and attention required for healthy development. These children are at risk for disease, malnutrition, and death.”
Another barrier that bars many families from adopting internationally is the time it can take.