If you have decided to adopt a baby from abroad, you should learn about the requirements to do so. For American adoptive parents, international adoption involves U.S. immigration laws and state adoption laws, as well as foreign adoption laws. You may benefit from consulting with a U.S. immigration lawyer or adoption attorney. The adoption process may seem time consuming, but you can seek information and support from adoption agencies, adoption counsellors or other U.S. families that have already adopted babies from abroad.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Research adoption trends and procedures abroad, as each foreign country has its own adoption laws. Understand the differences between adopting from a country that is a member of The Hague Adoption Convention and from a country that is not a member. Narrow your search by identifying countries that allow infant adoption and have babies available for adoption more frequently. Alternatively, focus on one region or country if you have already decided that you would like to adopt a baby from a certain ethnic or cultural background.
Focus on learning more regarding adoption from the countries or geographic regions identified during your initial research. Use the U.S. Department of State's intercountry adoption website to find country-specific information regarding each country's adoption laws. Consider whether you are willing to follow the required procedures to adopt a baby from each country.
Start your U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services paperwork to determine whether you qualify to adopt from abroad and bring the baby back to the United States. Follow the instructions to complete USCIS Form I-800A or I-600A, depending on whether you plan to adopt from a country that signed The Hague Adoption Convention or from a country that has not signed the convention. Gather supporting documents requested by the USCIS application instructions, such as information about your citizenship.
Participate in an adoption home study conducted by a provider licensed to operate in your state and acceptable under USCIS standards. For baby adoptions from Hague Adoption Convention countries, you must have already chosen the country in which you will adopt. Comply with home visits and interviews, medical evaluations, a review of your finances, a criminal background check and other steps of the home study process as required. Submit the completed home study information, along with your USCIS Form I-800A and application fees, or submit the home study report separately from Form I-600A, within one year of your application date.
Select an adoption agency that handles adoptions from the country or region of the world that you have chosen. Ask about the frequency of adoptions of babies versus adoptions of older children. Review the agency's requirements for adoptive parents and determine whether you qualify. Sign an adoption service contract with the selected agency.
Work with your adoption agency to identify babies available for adoption. Follow through with procedures to meet the foreign country's adoption laws, which may include required international travel and court proceedings. With the agency's assistance, complete legal steps abroad to formalise your adoption and to finish USCIS immigration proceedings to return with your baby to the United States.
Tips and warnings
- Depending on the country from which you plan to adopt, you may need to choose an adoption agency prior to submitting your USCIS application or completing your home study.
- Carefully research the adoption policies of each country abroad, as well as the reputations of available adoption agencies, to ensure that your adoption follows international and national laws and does not perpetrate adoption fraud.
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