Adopting children is an exciting and confusing process. If you’re pursuing international adoption, there are three different sets of law you have to understand and work with, and they are U.S. federal law, state law, and the laws of the child’s country of birth. Overseas adoptions are complex, so it’s wise to have the support of an immigration attorney.
Adopting children is an exciting and confusing process. If you’re pursuing international adoption, there are three different sets of law you have to understand and work with, and they are U.S. federal law, state law, and the laws of the child’s country of birth. Overseas adoptions are complex, so it’s wise to have the support of an immigration attorney. Poarch Thompson Law will help your family follow the law and stay together, from the selection of your country to citizenship for your adopted child.
Child Citizenship & Country of Origin
The laws of the country your child was born in will dictate the adoption process. Therefore, when possible, it is wise to choose a country with the least amount of legal hurdles. Countries may restrict certain individuals from adopting their children. You’ll also want to know if the country is part of the Hague Convention.
Three processes to Immigrate Adopted Children
You will need to use one of three processes to adopt your child:
- Hague Adoptions: For countries that are part of the Hague Convention.
- Orphan Adoption: Countries that are not part of the Hague Convention and when the child is an orphan, as defined by U.S. law.
- Other Adoption: This is for unusual circumstances where the child is already considered your child, whether or not they were an orphan when you adopted them. Sometimes, there is a blood relationship between the “parent” and “child.” For example, this process may be used to adopt siblings of your already-adopted child.
The Hague Treaty is an international convention. Several countries agreed to it to govern the international adoption process. If the country you are adopting your child from is part of the Hague adoption process, you must use it.
Hague Adoption Eligibility
In order for you to be eligible for a Hague adoption:
- You must be a U.S. citizen and live here.
- You must be at least 25 years of age when you file form I-800.
- If you are married, your spouse must intend to adopt your child as well and must sign your form I-800A.
What steps are involved in a Hague Adoption?
To adopt children through the Hague process, you must:
- Choose an adoption agency that is Hague accredited.
- Obtain a home study. (Read more on this process below.)
- Apply to USCIS before accepting a child or a placement. Use form I-800 to determine your eligibility.
- After approval from USCIS, gain a placement from your adoption agency.
- Before adopting the child, file a petition to adopt the child with USCIS with form I-800A. The child must be found eligible.
- Adopt the child by the home country’s laws or obtain custody in order to adopt them in the United States.
- Apply for an immigrant visa for the child.
- Bring the child to the United States.
Home Study Process
Your state’s home study agency will complete a home study with you. Each agency will have different requirements and ask different questions. Overall, the state uses the home study to determine if you are eligible to adopt a child.
Visa types for Hague Adoptions
There are two visa types for Hague adoptions:
- IH-3: For children who have a full and complete adoption already.
- IH-4: For children who will be fully adopted in the United States.
Orphan adoptions are for children who are not from Hague countries and who meet the following criteria:
- Does not have any parents because the biological parents have left the child as an orphan due to loss, death, abandonment, separation, desertion or disappearance
- Or has one sole surviving parent who has irrevocably released the child to be adopted abroad, in writing, in accordance with the home country’s laws and is incapable of providing proper care
What steps are involved in an Orphan Adoption?
The orphan adoption process is more straightforward for adoptive parents:
- Have the USCIS or Department of State conduct an overseas investigation.
- Have a home study completed and submitted.
- File form I-600 for your child.
- Once the petition is granted, apply for a visa for your child.
- Once the visa is granted, bring your child to the United States.
Do I need to have a Home Study conducted?
As an adoptive family using the orphan process, you must have a home study conducted by your home state.
Visa types for an Orphan (Non-Hague) Adoption
- IR-3: for children whom you adopted abroad in their home country
- IR-4: for children whose adoption will be finalized in the United States
Immigrating other Adopted Children.
This third method of adopting children is sometimes referred to as the family-based petition process.
In order to use this process, you must have completed a full and final adoption in the child’s home country. The adoption must have been completed when the child was under 16, and they must have been in your physical and legal custody for two years before immigrating. That two-year wait period is waived for children who were abused in their previous home.
The requirement that the child is under 16 when adopted is also waived for children who are blood-related to your other adopted child or children. These children must be under the age of 18.
How Poarch Thompson Law can help?
Choosing the wrong process, adopting a child before you’re approved to, or making other mistakes can negatively impact your adoption efforts. Working with the experienced immigration attorneys at Poarch Thompson Law will give you the peace of mind that you need to welcome your new child to the United States and their adoptive family. Reach out to us today for guidance.
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