International Adoptions and Immigration

What is the process for Americans who want to adopt a child from another country?

For foreign adoptions, the immigration process is almost the last thought to the whole process. Many countries follow the Hague Convention. This is to protect the adoption process so that it’s done with full disclosure and according to the rules of the country where the child was born.

What is the Hague Convention?

The Hague Convention is the product of prior concerns on how international adoptions were taking place around the world. It is an international agreement to safeguard intercountry adoptions. These rules and procedures were developed on how adoptions must take place and any countries that sign on the agreement are considered convention countries. Not all countries partake in the Hague Convention.

The Foreign Adoption Process

The prospective parents have to engage with an adoption agency and research the foreign countries that agency services in terms of foreign adoptions. After that is done, the United States parents have to go through the process of proving that they are eligible to adopt. That process is called a “home study” and that’s all done with the adoption agency.

Once that’s completed, then the adoptive parents who are looking for a child must then file a form I-600A, along with the home study document, in essence stating to the immigration service that the hopeful parents are looking to adopt someone from outside of the United States.

At this point, the couple may not even know who the child is. But they file the paperwork to get approved to go forward when a child is identified and the birth parents have determined they want the person/couple to adopt their children. Hopefully the child is being identified and then at some point the family will all go to the other country to go through a legal adoption in that country.

Once the adoption is completed in that foreign country, the child is theirs legally and is now their adopted child.

However, even though the new adoptive parents may be United States citizens, they still have to go through the immigrant visa process for the child. Just like anyone else that is applying for an immigrant visa to come to the United States, they have to apply at a U.S. Embassy, which includes:

  • completing the necessary applications and
  • supplying the necessary civil documents
    • birth certificate
    • medical exams
    • passport
    • Affidavit of Support.

Once the application is complete, the documents are submitted to the U.S. Embassy. The child will then be issued the immigrant visa and then the entire family can all travel back to the United States. Upon entry, just like anyone else who has obtained an immigrant visa, the child’s passport will get stamped at the airport signifying that he or she has entered the United States as a green card holder.

The only other additional step that the family can take if they wish is under the Child Citizenship Act. Once the child has entered the United States as a green card holder, the Child Citizenship Act allows him or her to be qualified as a United States citizen.

Is there ever an instance where the foreign adoption fails at the immigration stage?

The child is always subject to the same inadmissibility rules. For example, the immigration process may be delayed or potentially denied due to medical reasons.

More often, there could be issues not in the immigration process, but in the legal process regarding the adoption in the country that would hold up the adoption and immigration process for the family. If everything goes smoothly and the I-600A has been approved by the immigration service, getting the immigrant visa application approved should be relatively straightforward.