International Adoption: One Woman's Story

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Lisa Hofmann of Milford, Ohio, made failed attempts at adopting four different U.S.-born babies before adopting her son, Hunter, from Korea. "We spent two years on an emotional roller coaster," Hofmann says. "I think domestic adoption agencies and attorneys need to do a better job of educating people about their options -- and the risks."

That's not to say that international adoption doesn't come with its own challenges, including a fairly hefty price. The cost varies by country, but the range is $15,000 to $30,000, which includes travel expenses. Adopting from another country also requires completing mounds of paperwork: I sometimes joke that pregnancy is a physical hassle and adoption is an administrative one. The paperwork is eventually compiled into a dossier and includes INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services) forms; criminal clearances; medical certificates; letters of reference; financial statements; photos of you, your home, and your pets; and the all-important home study.

The home study incites fear and dread in many. It's a written document that's produced after a series of visits (or sometimes only one) with a social worker, who assesses your personal life, family background, family relationships, friends, habits, health, finances, education, employment, motivation, and expectations in order to determine what kind of adoptive parent you're likely to be.

"Since my husband and I were both married before, we were asked a lot of questions about our previous marriages, including why we believed they failed," says Roberta Rosenberg of Bowie, Maryland, who has a son and daughter adopted from Korea. "I didn't enjoy discussing the details. But I found the whole process was comparable to a series of prenatal exams -- uncomfortable but necessary."

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