Overview of the International Adoption Process
Prospective parents, when considering their options, may choose the international adoption route. When deciding whether or not this option is best for your family, it is important to have an idea what that process will look like. Some of the rules will differ depending upon whether you chose to adopt from a Hague or non-Hague convention country. The process will also vary based on the specific country from which you choose to adopt. What follows here is just a general overview of the international adoption process.
The Hague Convention, by the way, is an international agreement that sets forth common standards to protect children subject to an international adoption. If you are a United States citizen residing in the United States, and seek to adopt a child residing in another country subject to the Hague Convention, you will have to comply with the Hague Convention in the adoption process.
For any international adoption, the first step for prospective parents in the U.S. is to select an accredited adoption agency to assist in the process. It is important to choose an accredited agency that can provide each of the following services: (a) identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption, (b) obtaining the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and adoption, (c) completing a home study, (d) assessing the child’s best interests and appropriateness of the adoptive placement, (e) monitoring the case after placement until the final adoption and (f) assuming custody of the child, and arranging child care and any other services necessary during the transition of the child to the new parents.
After you have selected an accredited agency, you will apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for a determination that you are eligible to adopt. That process will include a completed home study, fingerprints and background check. A home study is a tool to evaluate your home and background to determine your eligibility to adopt a child and the suitability of your home.
After your agency has located the child you’d like to adopt, you will apply for permission to adopt the child to the central authority for adoption in the child’s country. If that central authority finds you to be suitable to adopt, it will then determine if the child is eligible for an adoption that meets the criteria for which you have been approved.
Upon being matched with a child, you should be provided with the child’s background information, medical, social and family history, and any special needs the child may have. You will also need to apply to have that child determined eligible to immigrate to the United States. If the child is determined likely eligible to immigrate, you may be instructed to move forward with the process. You would have to submit an immigrant visa application and await notification that the child appears to be eligible to enter and permanently reside in the United States if the adoption or guardianship is completed.
If you receive proper notification that the child appears eligible to enter and permanently reside in the United States, you may be advised to proceed to adopt the child or gain legal custody of the child in the child’s country of origin. Each country has its own set of laws and rules that must be met, and you will need guidance from your agency or a qualified attorney in that country.
You can also expect to have to complete the process for a U.S. immigration visa to bring the child home. In order to be eligible for a visa, a child from a Hague convention country must meet the definition of a “convention adoptee,” whereas a child from a non-Hague convention county must meet the U.S. definition of an orphan. Once you bring the child home, make sure you complete any necessary steps for your child to become a naturalized citizen.
Although the international adoption process may seem difficult, daunting and full of potential pitfalls, there are services in place to help prospective parents. The U.S. Department of State website provides a list of approved agencies, publications, and a detailed explanation of the process.
From our five convenient office locations, the adoption attorneys at Livesay & Myers, P.C. represent clients across Northern Virginia. If you are a resident of Northern Virginia and require assistance with an international adoption, contact us to schedule a consultation today.