International Adoptions: Consular Officers Assist New Families Abroad

Posted by Josh Glazeroff
May 11, 2009
Child Sleeps Inside Hammock at Orphanage in India

About the Author: Josh Glazeroff serves as the Visa Chief in the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

Working in the visa section of the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, my colleagues and I spend a lot of our day interacting with Indian citizens (and thousands of citizens of other nations around the world). As consular officers, however, our primary responsibility is to assist American citizens and provide them relevant consular services. These services to American citizens and visas come together in one special area: international adoptions. At the end of what can be a long process, the American citizen parents’ new children will need visas. Given the volume of people we see each day and the number of personal situations we consider, adoptions stand out as one of the most heartwarming. We are witnesses to the coming together of a family.

A couple of months ago I ran into a friend of a friend at the office.

“What are you doing in India?” I asked.

“We’re adopting a child.”

Wow. It was big news. I hadn’t been in touch for awhile, and she had just become a mom! She and her husband had invested a lot of time and energy in their decision and the process that followed. In the end, they were the parents of a son, whom they had yet to officially name. It was something with which I could identify – all new parents spend some time considering the name of their child – but this child was already over a year old! They were embarking on a journey as a new family, and their first stop happened to be our office. Their excitement certainly would not be dampened by any paperwork requirements. I was impressed by their dedication and thoughtfulness.

The flipside of the happy family addition via adoption is the terrible tragedy of baby-selling or baby-stealing. Recent news reports indicated that one or more Indian children were taken from their biological parents and “adopted” by unwitting foreigners (not Americans). The events happened a few years ago, but the very frightening possibility of such an occurrence has intensified the care with which we work on such cases. We have engaged with colleagues at other embassies in New Delhi to revisit our procedures and identify opportunities for improvement. We continue to work closely with our Indian government contacts to avoid miscommunication. We have conducted a careful top-to-bottom review of all our processes to ensure we comply with all the regulations involved.

The story of the adoptive parents finding a child to complete their family is one of genuine joy. It is very rewarding to play a role, even a small one, in facilitating the process. The care with which we undertake our work truly affects people’s lives – a lesson of which I am reminded every day.



New Mexico, USA
May 11, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Hi Josh, So how did the Indian government address the human trafficking that was taking place?

May 11, 2009

John in Greece writes:

And what about the Roma? Who sell their kids for "adoption" creating an even bigger trafficking problem? Thank God, Madame Secretary brought to table this huge issue called: Roma!

Just think about this too. We all -- Roma too -- must ACT!

Michigan, USA
May 12, 2009

Jennifer in Michigan writes:

From what I have read about international adoptions, the best way to avoid baby-selling and baby-stealing is to require the adoptive parents to work with a licensed agency that has a lengthy track record in that particular country, rather than finding a baby through lawyers or other intermediaries. I'm not familiar with India's regulations; maybe they are already doing this, but need stricter enforcement. I did see a report on TV about baby-selling in Guatemala, though.

Massachusetts, USA
May 23, 2009

Prataap in Massachusetts writes:

Josh -- It is amazing how public service has its untold sides to it and its many surprising rewards like your story. Glad to know there are caring people like you maning our "borders"....means a lot to people like me who adopted the U.S. as my home.



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