A group of Afghan childrenWatching the news coverage of Americans and others trying to escape from Afghanistan has many hopeful adoptive couples asking, “Can we adopt orphaned children from Afghanistan?” Or even “Can we adopt Afghan babies we see being handed to military personnel?”

These questions come from families hoping to provide stability and love to these children. The reality of the requirements of international adoption combined with the situation in the Middle East is vital to understand as Americans consider pursuing an adoption of a child from Afghanistan.

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It is quite common for adoption agencies, such as Lifetime Adoption, to get questions about adopting children from countries in crisis, especially when images shown in the media demonstrate the great need to help children in these countries. If you have thought about adopting from Afghanistan or another country that is in crisis, here are some important things to consider:

International Adoption Takes Time

Any international adoption is a process that takes time and a qualified agency. A complete home study must be done prior to being approved for adoption. Similarly, families must find and connect with an adoption agency that is licensed and approved from Afghanistan. It is not something that can happen within days; it will take many weeks or months until a family is approved.

Prior to the evacuation crisis, adoptions from Afghanistan were rare. As a member of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, the United States as a signer has agreed that every attempt to place a child in their country of origin must be made before international adoption. Yet, even with this, there were very few adoptions to the United States. And now that the Taliban has taken over, it is doubtful that even existing adoption arrangements of specific Afghan children will be honored.

Travel to Afghanistan (and many countries in current crisis) is Not Advised

The United States Department of State has issued a travel advisory for Afghanistan. It says in clear terms to “not travel to Afghanistan due to civil unrest, armed conflict, crime, terrorism, kidnapping, and COVID-19.”

Most international adoptions require that the adoptive parents travel to the country one or two times prior to the adoption taking place. Because the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has been closed and evacuated and the U.S. Military will be leaving the area, it is simply unsafe and ill-advised for Americans to attempt to travel there.

Adoption Shouldn’t Be Solely Emotion Based

Adopting a child needs to be more than an emotional decision based on urgent need. Welcoming a child from another culture, race, or heritage is not easy. Adoptive couples must be educated, as with any adoption, about how to incorporate, appreciate, and encourage their adopted child’s heritage.

Families need to be extra prepared with Middle Eastern children, especially those of Afghan heritage, because of the many differences, including language, that a child coming from that part of the world can experience.

Similarly, some adoptive couples expect a child to be grateful for being adopted from a war-torn country or one in crisis. However, a child will still feel great loss and trauma not only from what they have gone through, but also because of the great cultural changes they will experience. Successful adoptive families are well-educated on trauma, the culture of their child’s country, and the lifetime commitment of adoption.

Consider Helping Other Children

There are children waiting to be adopted in the United States. If you are seriously interested in helping children in need, adopting waiting children can be a way to assist children here in the U.S. that need a permanent home, a loving family, and the stability that only permanency can bring. There are photo listings and details available on waiting children who are currently free for adoption.

For infertile couples who genuinely wish to adopt a baby, Lifetime Adoption has been helping families grow since 1986. Our adoption application is always free, and we provide ongoing adoption education available for anyone through our adoption webinars.

Donate to Help Children and Pregnant Mothers

Many organizations provide help and assistance to children and others in crisis. Donations are tax-deductible, and support goes specifically to those who need it.

Samaritan’s Purse International Relief is currently providing emergency assistance for Afghans in crisis, as well as others in emergency situations, including Haiti.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is responding to Afghans in need and will continue to do so past the evacuation deadline.

If you wish to give specifically to adoption, the Lifetime Adoption Foundation provides stability to pregnant women and other mothers considering adoption for their unborn or medically fragile children in the United States.

Instead of Adopting a Child from Afghanistan, Take Action

I understand that the images in the media are heartbreaking, but no matter what you choose to do, take some action! Even if it is just praying for the Afghans and any Americans left behind. Adoption may not ultimately be possible, but there are ways to help, both big and small. Whether it is directly helping children, donating to charities that provide help, volunteering with local charities to help those in need, or simply spending time in intercessory prayer on behalf of those in our world with significant needs, take action.

In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in Heaven.
-Matthew 5:16

Sometimes, simply living in faith and sharing this faith with others in a way that thoughtfully honors God with our words and actions, we inspire others to do the same.

Above all, trust that God is in control, especially in times like these.

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Heather Featherston
Written by Heather Featherston

As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.

Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.

As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.

Read more about Heather Featherston


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