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Don Crowe, PHD, on the Basics of International Adoptions

Psychologist Donald Crowe operates a private clinical practice in Orinda, California, where he serves the psychotherapy needs of individuals, families, and couples. In 2006, Don Crowe, PHD, and his wife adopted a baby girl from Guatemala through the California-based nonprofit Heartsent Adoptions.

Pre-adoptive parents seek international adoption for a variety of reasons. One benefit of international adoption is that it is generally a more structured and predictable process than domestic adoption. Additionally, there is a very low risk of birth parents contesting the adoption.

Once the decision to adopt internationally has been made, the complex and lengthy adoption process begins. Americans are eligible to adopt children from more than 50 countries throughout Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa, but not from Australia, Western Europe, or Canada. In most cases, the birth parents are a nonfactor in the adoption because of illness, death, or family problems.

Popular countries for adoption include China, Russia, Ethiopia, and Guatemala. Each country enforces different policies and procedures, and availability can change without notice because of political instability. American families adopt about 20,000 international children each year.