Friday, September 4, 2020

International Adoption is Certainly an Option During this Time of Uncertainty

Have you found yourself frequently thinking about growing your family during the pandemic? Well, you’re not alone!  Time that was once spent with friends, at the gym and out to dinner is now less structured for many (though not all – we see you parents of school-aged kiddos).  Some people are finding that they have more free time to dedicate to thoughtful consideration of the “when” and “how” they will grow their family. If international adoption is one of the options you’re considering, “What about COVID?” is a question that Barker staff hears often.  You are not alone in wondering how intercountry adoption has been impacted during this challenging and uncertain time in our world. 

The bottom line is that intercountry adoption is still certainly open and functioning, with some important changes. Below are some fast facts that we hope will assist in your discussions with your partner or loved ones while considering the idea of growing your family through international adoption!

Home study is still possible, even with quarantine and social distancing practices in place

While the details of this will vary depending upon your state of residence, most agencies have continued to provide home study services from a distance throughout the pandemic.  While in-person visits were not possible during the most intensive lockdown periods in DC/MD/VA (the jurisdictions in which Barker is licensed to provide home study), those visits have resumed with workers and families wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves and practicing social distancing.  Many interviews are also completed by video call, and families are no longer required to come into the office for any reason.  Information meetings, as well as trainings and support meetings offered to waiting parents have all been moved to an online platform for Barker, as well as many of our fellow agencies.  We encourage you to stay in the know about upcoming events and trainings by visiting Barker’s event calendar: Barker Events Page.

Many countries are still taking applications and making matches at this time

Of the four programs that Barker runs directly, South Korea, China, and Colombia have continued to match children with their forever families during the pandemic, even during the more intensive lockdown periods.  While there have been some delays in the paperwork process, these steps in the process are still up and running efficiently. India ceased to match children and families during their lockdown but resumed referrals domestically and internationally in June. US Customs and Immigration have also opened several offices starting in July 2020, allowing the immigration aspect of the application process to move forward as well (albeit at a slightly slower pace as they work through backlog).

Intercountry travel is still possible from the U.S. to other countries on a case-by-case basis

The State Department Level 4 travel ban was lifted on August 6, 2020, after being in place for over 5 months, and has now returned to country by country advisories. To see a full list of advisories per country, visit the Department of State’s website. Of Barker’s four international programs, currently, South Korea and Colombia are allowing travel for adoptive families.

Intercountry travel for custody is still possible in some countries

While it is very true that some countries have restricted travelers from the United States, many have or are working hard towards creating a path for travel.  As of August of 2020, the following countries are allowing adoptive parents to travel and pick up their children:

  1. Armenia
  2. Brazil
  3. Bulgaria
  4. Burkina Faso
  5. Colombia
  6. Dominican Republic
  7. Guinea
  8. Haiti
  9. Hong Kong – one of the social services branches is escorting children to the U.S.


  1. Hungary
  2. Jamaica
  3. Latvia
  4. Philippines
  5. Romania
  6. Serbia
  7. Sierra Leone
  8. South Korea
  9. Taiwan
  10. Ukraine


There are many questions that arise when considering intercountry adoption, and we encourage you to reach out to Barker directly to learn more!

We will work hard to provide the answers to all of your questions and will be here to fully support you throughout the international adoption process. Families interested in adopting internationally through one of Barkers four country programs (India, China, South Korea, and Colombia), or who are living in the DC/MD/VA area and looking for home study services may visit Barker’s Choosing a Program page, attend one of our Free General Information Meetings held monthly (visit our Events Page to RSVP to the next session) or speak to an adoption specialist by calling our offices at 301-664-9664.  If you would like a more personalized and in-depth meeting, Individual Consultations are available. You can schedule an adoption consultation session with our International Program staff here

We look forward to connecting with you, and to supporting you in your international adoption journey!

Emily Marshall, Director of International Adoption Programs