The government agency in charge of overseeing all child adoptions in Thailand is the Child Adoption Center of the Thai Department of Social Development & Welfare (DSDW, formerly known as the DPW or Department of Public Welfare). DSDW’s adoption activities are supervised and approved by the Child Adoption Board of Thailand.
Unlike some international programs, adoption from Thailand involves a fair degree of variability. The process differs depending on the adoptive parents’ country of origin, the agency you work with (and the Thai placement officials your agency works with), and the age and needs of the child you wish to adopt.
Thai adoptions have a dual-track nature. Adoption agencies may submit dossiers directly to the DSDW for review and child assignment, or send them to one of four nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) authorized to make direct placements of Thai children for overseas adoption: the Thai Red Cross, Holt Sahathai Foundation, and Friends for All Children Foundation (all based in Bangkok); and the Pattaya Orphanage in Chonburi. Pattaya Orphanage – which is an NGO as well as an orphanage – has not historically referred children to families in the US.
The Thai Red Cross operates an orphanage in Bangkok (often also called the Thai Red Cross, but technically known as the Thai Red Cross Children Home) and places kids from that orphanage. Holt Sahathai works mostly with mothers directly and does not operate as an orphanage per se; relinquished children are in foster care. FFAC operates an orphanage in Bangkok and also oversees kids in foster care, particularly in the Chiang Mai area.
The Child Adoption Board and DSDW oversee all adoptions, including adoptions where placements are made by designated NGOs. Independent adoptions are legally possible but are difficult unless a family speaks Thai and/or is living in Thailand.
In general, the notes below pertain to adoption by U.S. citizens who are living in the U.S. Citizens of other countries. U.S. expats living in Thailand or elsewhere should consult an agency (preferably more than one), or the appropriate government authority (if in a country where agencies are not used), for accurate program descriptions and requirements, since some of the information below may not be applicable.
For US Citizens, you may consult with your embassy for the legal aspects of Thai adoption.
You may also see Siam Legal’s child adoption in Thailand page.