Adopting a child from another country is often a complicated journey. There are three processes for adopting a child internationally. Two separate processes apply only to children adopted by U.S. citizens. Depending on what country you choose to adopt from will determine which process you will adopt by. For those country, like the United States, that have signed the Hague treaty, you will follow the Hague process. For those countries not in the Hague treaty, one must follow the Orphan process. Another process applies to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who may petition for his/her adoptive child through an Immediate Relative Petition.
Most countries are part of the Hague Convention treaty, so this writing will focus on that process.
Steps of the Process:
- Choose a Hague Accredited Adoption Service Provider. Each country should have one. You should contact the country where the potential adopted child resides to determine the Adoption Service Provider.
- Obtain a home study. Your household, any household member older than 18 years old, will need to be fingerprinted and undergo conduct, background, and criminal checks. The Department of State must approve your home study, which will be forwarded to USCIS after approval.
- Apply to USCIS before adopting a child or accepting a placement for a determination that one is suitable for intercountry adoption.
- Once USCIS approved the application, work with the adoption service provider to obtain a proposed adoption placement.
- File a “petition” with USCIS, before adopting the child, to have the child to be found eligible to immigrate to the United States based on the proposed adoption.
- Adopt the child or obtain custody of the child in order to adopt the child in the United States.
- Obtain an immigrant visa for the child.
- Bring the child to the United States for admission with the visa.
Generally, the adoptive parent must be a U.S. citizen; habitually reside in the United States; if married, spouse must also sign the required USCIS forms (Form I-800A) and must also intend to adopt any child whom you adopt; but, if you are not married, you must be at least 24 years of age when you file Form I-800A, and you must be 25 years of age when you file your Form-800.
For a child to be eligible to immigrate to the United States, the child must be under the age of 16 at the time of filing Form I-800; habitually reside in a Hague Convention country; and determined to be eligible for intercountry adoption by the Central Authority of that country.
This is a long and complicated process, which is why it is recommended to have legal advice to meet your needs.
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