Our reasons for adopting internationally was really rather simple. We felt ready and able to parent one child, preferably a baby or toddler, without known severe medical conditions. Honestly, that's what we felt we could take on at the time. Of course, we ended up accepting a referral for a child we basically knew nothing about anyway! :)
The children available for adoption in our county were either medically fragile children (think needing 24 hour care/permanently and severely disabled), over the age of 8, or in sibling groups of three or more. I went to a workshop and was basically told that we would never be placed with a young child - all of these children were adopted by their foster parents. We didn't want to be foster parents, we wanted to adopt. Also, at that time, our county workers also tended to be anti-transracial adoption, so they would find reasons not to place kids of color with white families. (I've heard that's changed now.) Since most of the kids in the system were African-American, that meant the odds of adopting through our county were slim to none.
Compared to that, international adoption seemed like a great option.
I wish Callahan's book were available on Kindle. It sounds like an interesting read. I grew up in a lower-middle-class part of Maine, and many of my friends' families fostered for extra income. It was not a controversial choice. Where I live now, people generally seem to be assuming that the straight-foster families need an extra paycheck (which doesn't make them bad parents or bad people, but does make them unreliable adoptive resources) and the foster-adopt families don't care about the money either way, because they are in it to adopt and don't need or want state support to provide for their children, i.e. "I'm not doing this for you and you can't pay me for it." Both of these assumptions are far from universally true, but they do seem to be prevalent.
I do not have a single IRL peer who has adopted out of the foster-care system. It sucks. But when people ask me for advice, if they are childless and want an infant, I do not refer them to the system. I tell them to go to a private agency and pay. I do not want to spend the next several years watching them suffer the uncertainty and maybe lose a baby they have raised since birth and wind up childless again.
I can see this. We only foster - while we have 'adopt' on the license, it isn't what we are looking for right now. Just didn't want to go though more processes if we chose to adopt.
We have friends who have adopted from Kazakhstan. The hardest part for them was the uncertainty with the government. Also, they were expecting a 4 year old girl, and their daughter was clearly much older. She had health issues, attachment issues (I mean, she was found on the streets, and hardly touched in the orphanage) They adopted her, but it was a surprise. It was a huge ordeal for them, and insanely expensive (including living in Kazakhstan for 6+ weeks to establish, something or another...mainly to pump $$ into the economy since the government could make them...) and very touch and go for a while, but 'for a while' means for about 5 months after they began the process with their daughter.
On the other hand, I have a friend who is a DCFS case worker herself who adopted her son through fostering, then took in a 2 month old. Rights were terminated, they had him for 3 years, and just when they were about to finalize the adoption, a family member came from who-knows-where, child had never met this aunt, and now the child is with the aunt as a final placement. This was completely heartbreaking. In her words 'it was like he died. That's what the grief is like.' Even her 'behind the scenes placement' in her job didn't protect them.
I am glad that though we are open to adopting, we are fostering first, so if we do adopt, we will be familiar with the uncertainty.
I think someone here said this once, many years ago, and it stuck with me. International and Foster adoption are both equally expensive. In international adoption, you pay a high price financially. In foster-adoption, you pay a high price emotionally.
I'm sure that's not the case for every person going through foster-adoption, but it's an uncertain process a lot of the time. I've read and seen so many moms in this forum go through an agonizing wait, agonizing court battles, and agonizing uncertainty. We chose international adoption because we didn't think we could bear the possibility of that uncertainty and frustration. Our family had already dealt with too much heartbreak and loss (having two special needs boys, lots of health issues, and the loss of my mom)...We just didn't have it in us to pay a high price emotionally. With adoption from Korea, it was never uncertain that we would have a child. The only uncertainty is whether it would take 8 months or 2 years for her to come home. I suspect that the possibility of having that heavy emotional toll is what keeps a lot of people out of foster-adopt and draws them to the certainty of international adoption.