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Colombian children visit Maryland seeking homes, families

Several orphaned children from Columbia visited families in Maryland last month. While the children in all likelihood thought their extended visit to the United States was a vacation, in reality the purpose was to find them permanent adoptive homes. At least one host family had already adopted an orphan child from Colombia but seemed open to going through the process again.

In 2004, the State Department issued 23,000 visas for adoption. Both the high cost of an international adoption and a weak economy have contributed to a decline in the number of American parents who pursue child adoption abroad. Last year, Americans adopted 9,300 foreign children from other countries, even though several of these countries have recently tightened restrictions on international adoptions.

As is the case throughout the world, those Colombian orphans who are over two years old face a slim chance of finding an adoptive home. Their visit to the United States aims to create interest in prospective adoptive families and to encourage familiarity and engagement between the children and possible parents for them.

International adoption is complex and requires several different steps. Fortunately, Maryland will, as a rule, recognize an adoption decree that a foreign government issues, although parents may have to undertake some legal work in Maryland so as to ensure recognition and to obtain important documents like birth certificates.

Maryland parents need not turn overseas in order to adopt an older, hard-to-place child in need of a home. Several children in Maryland's foster care system await adoption. A Maryland adoption lawyer should be able to review the legal options and the resources available for any parents who desire to adopt an older child, whether that child is a citizen of the United States or is from overseas.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Columbian orphans visit Maryland families," Mary Gail Hare, July 29, 2012

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