Six years ago, I was living at Howrah Train Station without a family, and this year I got to shake the hand of the President. That's pretty special.
-- Marjeena Griffin, adopted daughter of Elaine Griffin, 1995 National Teacher of the Year
International special needs adoption at its most practical level (that of raising the children) is similar to domestic special needs adoption. However, some very important distinctions exist. Those who adopt internationally are generally not able to access Adoption Assistance Payments (AAP) for internationally born children. Some exceptions are in states in which Title IV-B or state-paid adoption assistance payments are available to all children with special needs, or to those who have been adopted through licensed child placing agencies. If the internationally adopted child was ever in the actual legal custody of a United States licensed adoption agency, and the state of residence offers adoption assistance state-funded payments to such children with special needs, then the adoptive family may be able to apply for AAP before or after the adoption has been finalized. This is the exception, rather than the rule.
Most of the children available for adoption internationally come from Asian and Latin American countries, although children from Eastern European countries are increasingly more often available for adoption. The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) requires that a child must be an orphan, abandoned, or have only one living parent before the child can enter the United States for the purposes of adoption. Although independent adoption (without the assistance of an international agency) is possible, all children entering the United States for adoption must meet INS