In addition to caring for women who experience unplanned pregnancy and offering domestic adoption to families, we also help families who want to adopt internationally.

When families first begin to explore international adoption, they soon find that there are lots of questions that need answering — How long is the adoption process? What are the fees and expenses? What is my eligibility? And what about the needs of children waiting for a family? Just to name a few…

Here are answers to the top 8 questions that we are asked about international adoption:

1. Who are the children who need families? 

Although the typical profile of child varies depending on the country you are adopting from, on average, most children are boys and girls between 2-3 years old at the time they arrive home. Most families request to adopt girls, so boys often wait longer to find a family. In 2014, 60 percent of children placed through Holt had some special needs, whether minor and correctable — considered healthy in the U.S. — or more moderate. There are many older children who urgently need families, as well as children with more involved special needs.

2. How long does the adoption process take? 

Although the time it takes to adopt varies by country, on average, the process from application to traveling home takes 2-3 years. Some of our smaller pilot programs may take a bit longer. However, depending on the child, there are instances where the process may be expedited in less than a year.

3. Who cares for my child during the adoption process?

Holt advocates for quality in-country care for children in all of the countries where we work — including low staff-to-child care ratios, quality medical care, orphan-specific nutrition and more. We helped develop foster care in many of these countries and the children benefiting from Holt’s programs receive care that is second to none. Many children waiting for a family often live with a foster family —providing a more nurturing, family-like atmosphere that helps children form healthy emotional attachments and reach critical developmental milestones.  When children must live in care centers and group homes, we do everything in our power to ensure children have what they need to thrive. You will receive the most accurate information available on your child’s growth, development and medical conditions.

4. How much does adoption cost? 

Holt provides comprehensive lists of fees so you know exactly what to expect. Due dates for fees are spread throughout the entire adoption process, and we can help you find financial aid and grants. Although fees vary by country program, you can expect to pay between $20,000-35,000, which includes everything from travel to document prep, parent education and more.

5. In which U.S. states can Holt work with families? 

We can work with families in all 50 states. For some states, we partner with another agency to provide your homestudy. Only our Korea program is limited to prospective families residing in certain states.

6. Do you have an office near me? 

Holt has six branches offices around the country, which host events, in-person meetings, one-on-one consultations and more. If you do not live in a state where we have a branch office, no worries! We can still work with you.

7. Is my family eligible to adopt?

Parent eligibility varies greatly from country to country and the needs of our specific children. The best way to learn which countries you are eligible to adopt from is to call us! We can walk you through all the details, and help determine which country program may be best for your family.

8. What do “waiting child” and “special needs” mean? 

A “waiting child” is a child who we may need additional help matching with a family due to their age, special needs, family history or more. We may feature these children on our website, hoping additional advocacy efforts will reduce the time the child waits for a family. Only a very small number of the children Holt places with families appear on our waiting child photolisting. “Special needs” is a very broad term that we use to describe medical, developmental, psychological or emotional needs of children — ranging from conditions like low birth weight or minor heart murmur to limb differences, blindness and developmental needs like Down syndrome. Because they often wait longer for a match and will need a family uniquely prepared to care for them, older children and children in sibling groups may also be described as “special needs” even though they are completely healthy.


Learn more about international adoption at our Holt International website.