Adoption matters

Happy family in the park evening light. The lights of a sun. Mom, dad and baby happy walk at sunset. The concept of a happy family.Parents hold the baby's hands.

During our recent webinar focused on the dos and don’ts of supporting employees through fertility issues, one attendee urged us not to forget about adoption.

In this article, international adoption specialist Cecile Trijssenaar shares her insights into the options available, including domestic vs. international adoption, the assessment and approval process and practical details such as waiting times and costs.

Adoption is a positive option

Many couples are unaware of their reproductive difficulties until they are trying to conceive, and nothing happens. After a year trying they are deemed to be infertile. It is heart-breaking, frightening, stressful and completely unfair. You feel if you are being punished; have made the wrong choices; are undeserving; not good enough and the suffering is unbearable.

And then the medicalised path to parenthood begins. Without stopping, or pausing, one is shunted down the track with medical appointments, blood tests, sperm tests, internal examinations, prescriptions, injections, procedures.

Rinse and repeat…all in the hope of creating the miracle of one’s own birth child.

It hardly seems fair as in some corner of our planet with rising costs, inconsistent food resources, no access to birth control, violence, war, gender inequality, poverty, cohesion and other factors, almost 61 million women find themselves facing unintended pregnancies each year.

There is the notion “Well if IVF doesn’t work, we can always adopt”, putting adoption as the last option in a long, stressful journey to becoming a family.

But adoption is a very powerful way to become a parent. One that can be explored before you automatically begin the IVF journey.

It is important to understand all the options available to you, so that you can make the right
decision for you and your family.

Domestic v International Adoption

At present there are over 85000 children in care in the United Kingdom. However, fewer children are becoming available for adoption as most are given Special Guardianship Orders to stay with their families. Applications may be made to one’s local authority adoption department, where they approve more families than children available.

International adoption is a viable alternative but it is not for the faint hearted.

Inscribed in law, there is a global process with regard to international adoption. It is the basic human right of every child to grow up in a stable home and loving family environment where they can reach their given potential.

When a child comes into the care system through poverty, abandonment, relinquishment or removal, all efforts are made to keep them with their birth and extended families or to find them a family through domestic adoption. If no one comes forward children are free to find a family from overseas.

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Children needing Adoption

Globally, there are an estimated over 100 million children growing up out of family. Not all children are available for adoption and a child overseas has a 1:6000 chance of being adopted. There are children of all ages from under one up to 18, including healthy children, special needs children and sibling groups.

They are raised in orphanages and foster families. At 18 they age out of the care system to make their way in the real world with no home, family nor resources. Many do not make it and they end up living on the streets and survive through theft and prostitution… and the cycle continues.

Assessment and approval

To be an adopter you will need to be assessed and approved by a registered adoption agency who will conduct what is known as the Homestudy. This is a process of seeing if you:

  • understand the needs of an adopted child
  • are healthy enough to see the child into adult hood
  • have the resources to raise the child with the same privileges as other children in your neighbourhood
  • are stable
  • have committed no crimes
  • are financially secure
  • have no history of mental illness.
  • have a separate room for your child

You will be assessed according to your wishes of the nature of the child you would like to adopt e.g. ‘A female child under 18 months from Honduras’ and approved to adopt a child which fits this specification.

Eligibility criteria

Theoretically you can adopt from any country that has children needing adoption except for the six UK has a moratorium on. Each country has certain criteria for their prospective adoptive parents regarding: Age, marital status, health, income, other.

Countries specify the nature of the children free for international adoption which includes age and health. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to adopt a new-born, although there are a couple of countries where this is possible. Most families adopt children under 3 years old.


Then it is a matter of uniting you with a child that matches your stipulated wishes. This happens through the Central Adoption Authority of the country you have selected. I need to stress when meeting your child that you need to be 100% happy with the match. It is not in your interests, nor the child’s, nor the birth family’s, nor the country’s to agree to adopt a child with whom you are not totally comfortable.

If you do not feel you will be able to bond with the child, you must be brutally honest and say so. Another match will be found for you. The international adoption process guarantees to place a child with you.

Waiting times, trips & costs

There are no set timings as so many variables. It will take 7-9 months to be assessed and approved and a couple more months to organise the necessary documentation. Once your application is lodged in-country, and depending on the country, it will take from 1-3 years to successfully bring your child home.

Most adoptions take two trips – the first to meet your child and agree to adopt them, and a couple of months later, the trip to attend the court hearing. The first trip is usually about 10 days and the second with the court process and gathering of child’s documents approximately 3-6 weeks.

Costs vary and can range from £10-£30 000 depending where you live and where you are

About the author

Cecile Trijssenaar is an international adoption specialist who has been working in the area of adoption for the past 20 years since she adopted her daughter from East Europe. She and lawyer Carolina Girardelli, co-ordinate adoptions from several countries providing professional and personal 24/7 support to inter-country adopters. During Covid Cecile developed a corporate, transformative, blended Wellbeing EdTech
programme based on bibliotherapy in honour of Patricia a fellow adopter who passed as a result of burnout. The fully managed programme prevents key staff from entering the burnout pipeline and supports Wellbeing and HR professionals in caring for their staff.

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