The Impact of Coronavirus on International Adoptions
In recent weeks, the spread of a novel virus from Wuhan province in China has sent shock waves throughout the global infrastructure. Not only has the fallout threatened to slow the shipment of goods and travelers’ movements to and from China, but international adoptions have also slowed as China reports a death toll that is now more than 1,000.
What Is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus refers to a group of viruses that come from animals. The first known patients who displayed symptoms of the current coronavirus shopped or worked at a seafood market in Wuhan, China. Since the initial cases emerged, health care professionals have observed that the virus can be transmitted from person to person as many more human cases now exist. At least 28 countries currently report cases of the virus while China reports tens of thousands of domestic cases. Scientists still have questions regarding how contagious the virus is; therefore, several countries now have travel bans in place to contain the infection rate.
Couples and individuals who are waiting to adopt a child from China are increasingly reporting delays in the process due to the emergence of the virus. If you are currently in the process of adopting a child from China, your PA adoption attorney can advise you of how the threat of coronavirus may impact your adoption timeline.
Why Are Adoptions Impacted By Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is affecting international adoptions from China in several ways. First, the United States has imposed a travel ban that limits the movement of people who wish to travel to and from China. This means adoptive parents are logistically unable to travel to meet their new adoptive children and bring them home. Additionally, limited communication from the Chinese government regarding the disease outbreak makes it very difficult for adoption agencies to communicate potential next steps to adoptive parents. Therefore, adoption attorneys and agencies are unable to advise adoptive parents regarding exactly how long they will need to wait before the process is once again able to move forward.
What Should Adoptive Parents Do for Now?
The simple answer is to be prepared for a situation that may change quickly. We advise parents to exercise patience as the timeline may lengthen substantially. It may help to think of the adoptive process as if it is similar to raising a biological child. Parents are not always in control of every circumstance that involves their biological child. They simply have to do everything that is within their means and leverage the help of professionals who are well-versed in the situation. For that reason, we advise adoptive parents to always seek out the legal knowledge and opinion of an attorney.
How Long Does the International Adoption Process Normally Take?
Every adoption varies from case to case. Nevertheless, prospective adoptive parents typically receive advice to expect the process to take 18 to 24 months. Parents at every stage in the process of adopting a child from China may be required to wait longer as the governments of the U.S., China, and the international health community respond to the virus outbreak.
Has This Ever Happened Before?
In 2003, there was an outbreak of the SARS virus in China. Similarly, the spread of SARS led to travel restrictions and a sudden onslaught of questions for adoptive parents, governments, and the international health community. At that time, the Chinese government suspended international adoptions. Nevertheless, the government resumed processing adoptions within a matter of months, and waiting parents eventually were able to travel to pick up their newly adopted children. The SARS outbreak came with lessons that may prove valuable during this current virus outbreak. Therefore, parents have reason to remain optimistic.
Who Can You Talk To?
If you have questions about how coronavirus may affect your adoption process, the adoption agency may have information about the estimated timeline as well as measures Chinese orphanages engage in to protect children from the virus. We also strongly advise you to consult your adoption attorney for additional insight. Information from overseas may be sparse at times. However, your attorney will serve as an excellent sounding board and immediate point of contact to help you address your concerns as you navigate the lengthy international adoption process.
If you have concerns about the impact of coronavirus on the international adoption process, speak with a PA adoption attorney at Cofsky & Zeidman. Call our Philadelphia office at (215) 563-2150 today.