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How to adopt a child from another country

There are three similar but distinct paths to bringing your adopted child to the United States. Which path your adopted child follows will depend on his or her individual circumstances.

Hague Process

If you filed Forms I-800A and I-800 in order to adopt, then your child is from a country that has implemented the Hague Adoption Convention (Hague). This means your child will enter the United States either with an IH-3 immigrant visa (if you adopted your child in a Hague country) or IH-4 immigrant visa (if you finalize the adoption in the United States).

Non-Hague Process

If you filed Forms I-600A and/or I-600 in order to adopt, then your child is from a country that has not implemented the Hague Adoption Convention. This means your child will enter the United States either with an IR-3 immigrant visa (adoption finalized in a non-Hague country and you [or your spouse, if married] saw your child prior to or during the adoption process) or an IR 4 immigrant visa (if you finalize the adoption in the United States).

Immediate Relative Process

If your child does not meet the requirements for the Hague or the non- Hague adoption processes, you may still be able to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on his or her behalf as the adopted child of a United States Citizen. Parents must accrue two years of legal and physical custody and obtain a full, final adoption of the child to be eligible to file an I-130. Legal and physical custody can be accrued at one stretch of time or cumulatively over several periods. They can also be accrued before, during and after the adoption. The two years must be accrued BEFORE you file Form I-130. Also, the adoption must be finalized before your child’s 16th birthday (or 18th birthday if they are a biological sibling of a child you have already adopted or will adopt). Your child will receive an IR-2 immigrant visa if he or she is found eligible.

If you are adopting from a Hague Convention country, certain restrictions apply that may prevent your child from immigrating to the United States using this process. Please fully research the adoption laws of the country you hope to adopt from before beginning the process.

U.S. citizens wishing to adopt a child relative from abroad and then petition for that child to immigrate to the United States following the completion of the adoption must generally proceed in the same way as non-relative U.S. prospective adoptive parents. U.S. immigration law provides three different processes through which a child may immigrate to the U.S. on the basis of an intercountry adoption: the Convention process, the Non-Convention process, and the immediate relative petition process. A relative child may immigrate under one of these provisions only if the adoption meets all the requirements of that specific process. You can learn more about the eligibility requirements by viewing our web page, Who can be Adopted.

The Convention Process:
A child adopted from a Convention country must qualify as a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law and the adopting parent(s) generally must follow the Convention process for intercountry adoptions. This process will involve filing a Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, and a Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. In general, the Form I-800 must be filed before the child’s 16th birthday unless an exception applies.

Please note that for adoptions involving a Convention country, the Convention and U.S. law and regulations implementing the Convention generally prohibit prior contact between prospective adoptive parents and the child’s parents or legal guardian. However, this prohibition does not apply if the child and the prospective adoptive parents are relatives.

The Non-Convention Process (“Orphan” Process):
A child adopted from a non-Convention country must qualify as an orphan under U.S. immigration law and the adopting parent(s) generally must follow the orphan process. This process will generally involve filing a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, and a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. In general, the Form I-600 must be filed before the child’s 16 th birthday unless an exception applies.

The Family-based Petition Process:
To be eligible to receive an immigrant visa through the family-based petition process, the child must have been adopted while under the age of 16 (or be the natural sibling of such a child, adopted by the same parent(s) as his or her sibling while under the age of 18). In addition, the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, family-based petition process under INA 101(b)(1)(E) requires the child to have been in the legal and physical custody of, and resided with, the adoptive parent(s) for at least two years prior to filing the Form I-130 petition. If the child is or was habitually resident in a Hague Convention country prior to the adoption and the adoption occurred on or after April 1, 2008, the two-year legal custody and physical residency period generally must be satisfied outside the United States in order for the Form I-130 to be approvable. The rules for this immigration process are discussed in greater detail on the USCIS website here.

Which process must a U.S. citizen follow in order to petition for a stepchild to immigrate to the United States?

A stepparent may file the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative for a stepchild (spouse’s child) to qualify for an immediate relative visa. U.S. citizen stepparents who wish to bring a stepchild to the United States are not required to follow the Convention or orphan adoption immigration procedures in cases where the U.S. citizen married the child’s parent before the child’s 18th birthday. Unlike a birth child or adopted child, however, a stepchild does not acquire citizenship under Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act based on the relationship to the stepparent. For more information, see the USCIS online brochure titled “I Am a U.S. Citizen . . . How Do I Help My Relative Become a U.S. Permanent Resident?”

You may also refer to the I-130 Immigration Process for Adopted Children page for more information.

If I an adopting a relative, am I required to work with a primary provider?

Yes, you will need a primary provider. Prospective adoptive parents pursuing an intercountry adoption (a Convention or orphan adoption), including the adoption of a child relative, must work with an adoption service provider who is able to ensure that all adoption services have been provided. Under U.S. law, U.S. adoption service providers that are not public entities or otherwise an exempted provider must be accredited or approved in order to provide adoption services relating to intercountry adoptions. Prospective adoptive parents are required to identify a primary provider, the entity that has ensured all adoption services have been provided as required.

Please refer to the Adoption Service Providers page for more information.

How to adopt a child from another country

Are you considering international adoption ? That’s great! There are millions of children around the world who are growing up without families, so if you’re hoping to grow your family through adoption, international adoption is a great way to do it.

International adoption is a huge commitment–and a tremendous joy. And before you embark on your international adoption journey, there are a few things you’ll need to be aware of.

How to adopt a child from another country

1. It’s important to examine your motivations before moving forward.

Before you move forward with an international adoption , it’s important to look closely at your reasons for adopting .

From the get-go, it’s important to be clear that international adoption is not simply a nice thing to do. It’s not a celebrity trend . It’s not a fashion statement. It’s not a good deed. It’s not an amazing series of photo ops. It’s not a way of sidestepping birth parent issues . It’s not a way of filling the hole in your heart.

International adoption is adding a child to your family . It’s making a lifelong commitment to another human being . It’s having a willingness to persistently work to overcome any challenges that arise–both before and after the adoption. It’s opening your heart to a different culture and another country.

So spend some time honestly evaluating the reasons you want to adopt. Ultimately, it comes down to this: If you want to add a child to your family–and are willing to dedicate a lifetime of blood, sweat, tears, money, sleep, and worry to the well-being of your child–international adoption is a great choice for you.

Additional Reading

How to adopt a child from another country

2. You can’t adopt from just any country.

Choosing a country to adopt from is not as easy as closing your eyes and throwing a dart at a map of the world. Many countries are closed to international adoptions, for a variety of reasons. Wealthier countries generally try to find homes for its children inside their borders. Because of the Hague Adoption Convention , many poorer countries are closed to international adoptions because they are working to implement changes that protect children and families. Some countries, like Russia, are closed for political reasons.

Every country that does choose to place children for international adoption has established rules and requirements for adoptive families, putting restrictions of parental age, marital status and health, number of other children in the home, etc. Most countries require that you travel to pick up your child; others, like Uganda, require that you foster children inside the country for a certain amount of time before you adopt.

Many countries have a faster track for parents adopting children with special needs . Children with special needs may have easily correctable medical conditions or face more complex, lifelong challenges.

When you’re choosing a country to adopt from , you’ll need to consider whether the country is open to adoption, whether you meet that country’s criteria, and whether you’re willing to comply with the requirements set up by that country for travel or fostering. It might be helpful to connect with parents who have already adopted from the countries you’re interested in so you can get a better feel for what the process looks like. Visit adoption.com to connect through international adoption forums.

To help you get started in selecting a country, here are the ten most popular countries for international adoptions in 2015:

China – 2354 adoptions completed in 2015

Ethiopia – 335 adoptions completed in 2015 (now closed to international adoption)

If you want to adopt a child from overseas, you should contact a UK adoption agency through:

  • your local council in England and Wales
  • your local health and social care trust in Northern Ireland
  • a voluntary adoption agency that deals with overseas adoption

There is a different process for overseas adoption in Scotland.

The adoption process is similar to a UK adoption and will be done by a UK adoption agency that may charge a fee.

If you’re assessed and approved as suitable to adopt a child by a UK adoption agency, they will let you know what you need to do and guide you through these steps.

Your application will be sent to the Department for Education (DfE) or your relevant UK Central Authority to check it meets eligibility criteria.

DfE or your relevant UK Central Authority will issue a Certificate of Eligibility to Adopt and send it with your adoption application to the relevant overseas authority – some countries require adoption applications and supporting documentation is notarised, legalised and translated.

Once matched, you need to visit the child in their own country and confirm in writing that you’ve visited them and want to proceed with the adoption.

You may need to go through adoption court processes in the country you’re adopting from and the UK.

Once the placement has been finalised, you will need to arrange entry clearance for the child to enter the UK.

The fee includes case management but does not include legalisation, notarisation or translation costs.

Restrictions

The UK has restricted adoption from the following countries:

  • Cambodia
  • Guatemala
  • Nepal
  • Haiti
  • Ethiopia
  • Nigeria

You can read about the reasons for the restrictions for each country.

How to make an exception request

If you want to adopt a child from a restricted country, you will need to set out the reasons in writing why your case is exceptional (for example, adopting a family member) and provide supporting evidence. Find out how to make an exception request to adopt a child from a country on the restricted list.

You’ll need to follow a different process for dealing with restricted countries in Scotland. Contact the Scottish Government for enquiries about restrictions in Scotland.

Scottish Government intercountry adoption team
[email protected]

If you live abroad

You must follow the adoption laws of the country you’re in if you’re normally resident in that country and want to adopt.

You must follow UK adoption law if you’re normally resident in the UK, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands. This is sometimes called ‘habitual residence’ and can apply even if you’re living abroad at the time of the adoption. If you’re unsure of your residence status, you should get your own independent legal advice before proceeding with an adoption.

You may have to give a sworn statement in front of a solicitor that you’re no longer habitually resident in the UK, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands if the country asks for a ‘no objection’ letter from the UK government. You must send this statement, along with a copy of your passport, either to the Intercountry Adoption Team at the DfE or the nearest British embassy.

If you’ve adopted a child – either in the UK or overseas – and then travel or move to a third country, the adoption may not be recognised in that country. If you have any doubts you should get independent legal advice.

Registering an adoption

You can apply to register an overseas adoption in the Adopted Child Register for England and Wales if:

  • the adoption took place in certain overseas countries
  • the parent or parents were habitually resident in England and Wales at the time of the adoption
  • the parent or parents can provide all the supporting documents

You should read the guidance notes before filling in the form to register with the General Register Office (GRO ).

If you’re considering adoption, an important issue you’ll face is whether you’re interested in adopting a child whose race, ethnic background, or culture is different than yours. Many prospective adoptive parents are clear that they want to bring a child into their family who looks like them, while others are open to creating a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, or multi-cultural family.

The following is a discussion on adopting a child from a different culture, race, or ethnicity.

Adopting a Child From a Different Culture:

In the United States, couples often adopt children with racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds that are vastly different than their own. The adopted children may be African American, Latino, or Asian, or they may have been born in another country. In any case, it’s quite common for adoptive families to represent the overall diversity of the United States.

When you adopt internationally, you bring a child from their birth country and culture to another country with its own culture. If your physical features match your new child’s, you may find that the adjustment is much easier. However, parents who adopt internationally typically bring into their families a child who looks entirely different than they do.

Skin color, eye color, hair texture, and build may differ dramatically. These families face challenges both in the home and wherever they go.

Multi-Cultural Families

When they delve into their feelings, many prospective adoptive parents admit that they want children who look like them. Often couples come to adoption after experiencing infertility; the idea of adopting a child from a different culture or race brings home the reality that they will never have children biologically.

The truth is, children adopted into homes with such differences face incredible challenges. The following scenarios are actually quite common:

A Latino boy adopted into a Caucasian home in New England was the only child of color in his school. He was taunted and derided for being different. An African girl in a family of African-Americans felt that her heritage and culture were ignored so that she would "fit in." The Korean adoptee in the Jewish home always felt uncomfortable at religious gatherings, and as she grew up she struggled with her faith.

Most adoption professionals concur that parents who adopt a child from a different culture, race, or ethic background should work to make the child’s birth culture a part of their new family life. This can mean joining multi-cultural support groups, attending religious services, incorporating food and festivals into family life, taking lessons in the child’s birth language, or enrolling the child in a school with children from various backgrounds.

You also may want to decorate your home with images reflecting your child’s race or culture. This is important for the child’s self-image and the parents’ education as they try to become the best parents they can be. On the other hand, parents must be sensitive not to make the child’s birth culture or race a point of difference in the family. In a sense, when the Italian-American family adopts a Ukrainian boy, the whole family becomes Italian-Ukrainian-American.

Adopting a Child From a Different Culture? Hire a Lawyer

Adoption can be a real blessing for a family, but it can also come with its own set of challenges. This is particularly true when a family is adopting a child from a different background, culture, or even country than their own. While it can be a source of strength for a family and a community, there are times where it may also require greater understanding and perspective. This is why it’s a good idea to consult with a family law attorney.

The child adoption decision is never an easy task, especially when we talk about adopting a child from another country. No matter the reasons, an adoption represents a major change in the life of any couple, meaning responsibility and commitment to the end. Besides love, the resources required for raising a child are many and of many types, and all these things must be assumed.

How to adopt a child from another country

Table of Contents

Adopting a Child from another Country

Every year, thousands of citizens from the United States choose to adopt a child from overseas. This is in fact also known as intercountry adoption.

Choosing to adopt a child from a different country is frequently a tough journey, and many sites offer the necessary information to aid you as you make steps forward.

USCIS is responsible for 2 things:

  • To determine both the eligibility as well as suitability of the Prospective Adoptive Parents who are in the search of an adoption.
  • To determine if the child is eligible to immigrate to the U.S.

For which process you fit?

There are currently 3 processes when one wants to adopt a child internationally. Two of these processes apply just for children who are adopted by citizens of the United States. The process will be determined by what country you want to adopt a child from.

There`s another process that applies to a citizen of the United States or permanent residents who might petition for the adoptive child using an Immediate Relative Petition.

There are no standard rules regarding adoption – each country has its own rules. You need to contact your national authorities for any information on adoption requirements or procedures that you need to follow.

However, all countries share a series of common principles, which were established in the international conventions on adoption:

  • If they are alive, the biological parents need to offer their consent regarding the adoption of their child.
  • The decision of adoption needs to respect the best interests of the child.
  • Adoption should be offered by an administrative authority or court.

In most countries, the child will be able to take the name and nationality of the adoptive parents, and also have the same inheritance rights as a biological child.

Also, the adoptive parents will have the same rights and obligations towards the child as the biological parents. – Click here!

Domestic vs. International

Adoptions can be of 2 types: domestic or international. In case of a domestic adoption, the biological parents live in the same country with the adoptive parents. While in case of an international adoption, biological parents live in different countries than adoptive ones.

Domestic Adoptions

Domestic adoptions can vary a lot in terms of contact between the child and both pairs of parents, and they generally depend on the needs of the biological parents. Still, international adoptions have more chances to be closed, without any contact between both pairs of parents. It`s expected that both the domestic and international adoption to present a number of advantages and disadvantages.

In case of domestic adoption, agencies can offer more information about the medical history of the biological parents than when international adoptions are involved. In addition, the adoptive parents can be close to the child even from the start of the adoption process, or they are placed in contact with the pregnant woman who will give them the baby immediately after birth.

Also, when a domestic adoptions are concerned, it`s much easier to keep an open or semi-open relationship. The adoptive parents are the ones who decide if an open adoption can be a benefit or a disadvantage in the relationship with the adopted child.

When international adoptions are involved, agencies are able to offer a lot more information about the natural parents and will take a few months until the child will reach the adoptive family because the legal procedures may take a while. If a couple will choose an international adoption and it will adopt a newborn, the baby will reach the family when he`ll already have a few months, at best.

Giving up paternal rights isn`t a mandatory measures when talking about domestic adoptions, especially if the little one hasn`t been born yet. This aspect can be rather scary for the future adoptive parents and can be a reason for choosing an international adoption or choosing a child who have already been given in foster care or orphanage.

International Adoptions

International adoptions can be open, when the biological parents have contact with the child, or closed when there`s no contact between the biological parents in the child. – More details!

International adoptions can also be beneficial because a lot of adoptive parents don`t want to have any contact with the biological parents. Most of the times, this type of adoptions are closed.

There are plenty of families that want to make an international adoption from humanitarian reasons – to save an innocent child from a dangerous situation or poor living conditions.

In case of international adoptions, there`s no risk for the little one to be given to the adoptive parents and then be taken back from them, because the procedures of such an adoption stipulate that the biological parents will give up all their parental rights over the child starting with the moment the adoptive parents intervene in the life of the little one.

Lots of couples consider the conditions of international adoption to be less strict than domestic ones and, thus for these persons there are high chances of adopting a child. Still, these conditions are different from one country to another, and some countries may impose even stricter conditions than the ones specific to a domestic adoption. We cannot talk about good or bad decisions when choosing such a type of adoption. The choice should be made as a result of a common desire depending on what both parents want.

The decision of adopting a child, an innocent soul, next to the decision of becoming a parent doesn`t need to be taken based choosing the best type of adoption, but rather on the desire of ensuring a better life to a child.

How to adopt a child from another country

Are you considering adoption? One of the essential choices you can make in the adoption process is determining which kind of adoption to pursue. Should you adopt a child in the United States, or should you adopt a child from a foreign country, which is probably severely impoverished? This decision should not be taken lightly, as there are immense ethical concerns to take into consideration.

Inter-country adoption is a very lucrative business, and many of the countries engaged in inter-country adoptions are known to have some level of government corruption. It means that government leaders have been known to receive bribes rather than engage in the democratic process and do what is best for their people. As a result, the countries remain in poverty, and many children go to orphanages. With sometimes tens of thousands of dollars exchanging hands in the process of an American adopting a child from a corrupt country, there is always a possibility that the child being adopted was trafficked. You want to do everything you can to ensure that you do not find yourself in a position in which you are adopting a trafficked child kidnapped from his or her own family to be placed for adoption.

Two countries to consider are South Korea and Hong Kong, if you want to adopt a child from another country. Both are relatively well-developed countries, but social stigmas are surrounding unwed pregnancy and children with special needs. Most of the children available for adoption from South Korea and Hong Kong have some level of special needs that keep them from being adopted by a family in their own country. High levels of transparency help ensure that these children have not been trafficked. Taiwan may match a prospective adoptive family with an infant or toddler, but these children will likely also have special needs.

Currently, some countries have open adoption programs for children who are five years old and older. These programs are less risky in terms of child trafficking, as an older child can communicate whether or not he or she was taken from his or her parents. These countries include Ukraine, China, and Colombia.

The easiest country to adopt from is your own. While the United States’ foster care system is undoubtedly broken, adopting a child from foster care can be much less expensive (it is often entirely subsidized by the state) and has virtually zero risks of trafficking.

It is a good idea to get in touch with somebody who has completed an adoption this can include friends or colleagues. You should ask him or her a lot of questions about the whole adoption process. Ask them about their adoption agency choice and ask them why they chose the agency that they did and also ask them about the pros and cons of the agency that they went to. Go online and make some comparisons between the adoption agencies that you want to use and then narrow your list down to a few international adoption agencies that you want to use and then call these agencies. You are looking for an adoption agency that will help you and partner with you. Look for an agency that has a sense of warmth and trust, and one who is invested in a good outcome for you and your child.

Once you select the agency that you feel is best, then ask the agency for an information package and fill out the application forms. When you’re talking to adoption agency discuss the details of the application process, schedule your home evaluation study and submit the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) forms. Another thing to do is to compare the countries of the children that you want to adopt, most agencies have charts on their website that list available children, by country, gender, age, living situation (foster care, orphanage), the waiting period, parent requirements, travel requirements and adoption fees. After you review all of this, the next thing to do is to apply to the country of your choice.

The next thing to do is to prepare for the home evaluation study which is one of the most important steps in any adoption, regardless of whether it is domestic or international. The home study is generally consists of three parts, multiple visits from a social worker, gathering of paperwork and attending adoption classes. The next thing to do is to consider the age, health and gender of the child that you would like to adopt. Make your preferences clear to the adoption agency.

Choose a child from agency photos or videos. Have a pediatrician review the health status of the child before finalization. When the adoption process is complete and the child goes into your custody, you must travel to the child’s home country to pick him or her up. When you go take somebody that you trust, for safety reasons and peace of mind.
The international adoption process is much longer and much more costly then a traditional domestic adoption, if you’re not prepared to go through what is involved with adopting a child internationally then it is best not to get involved.

Reaching out and providing a child with a home is one of the most rewarding and challenging things a family can do.

Most inter-country adoptions are completed through a licensed adoption agency in B.C. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada makes the final decision about whether a child is allowed to enter the country.

Efforts are made to record medical and family information about the pre­-adoption family and any other background material that children will find useful as they grow up.

Laws & Requirements for International Adoptions

Canada has ratified the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption. This means that international laws apply to ensure safeguards and standards are in place with respect to the protection of children being adopted.

The Hague Convention guidelines govern adoption processes in some countries to protect adopted children and adoptive families. Both Hague Convention adoptions and non­-Hague Convention adoptions are carried out by a licensed adoption agency.

Non-­Hague Convention adoptions: Adoptions between Canada and countries that have not ratified the Hague Convention lack the assurances of Hague Convention adoptions. The adoption agency will help prospective parents to comply with necessary requirements.

BC-Japan Adoption Program

Effective May 13, 2019 the BC Provincial Director of Adoption has lifted the suspension of the BC-Japan Adoption Program. We thank you for your patience as we worked to address concerns and strengthen the program.

Learn about specific non-Hague Convention adoption situations:

Countries with suspensions or restrictions on international adoptions: Not all countries allow international adoptions.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada provides information about these countries:

Information Alerts

Find out about adoption closures, suspect adoption practices and procedural delays in some countries: