Adopting a child can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences in life. Adopting a child from another country (known as “inter-country adoption”) is no different, but because of immigration issues it can be a difficult and arduous process. Genesis Law Firm assists U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents in their quest for an inter-country adoption.
There are three ways in which U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents may go about an inter-country adoption: (1) the Hague Adoption Convention process; (2) the “orphan process” (non-Hague); and (3) through an immediate relative petition.
The Hague Adoption Convention
The Hague Adoption Convention (the “Convention”), an international agreement, ensures that inter-country adoptions are in the best interests of the child. The Convention became enforceable for the United States in April 2008. The Convention applies to adoptions between the United States and the other countries that have joined it.
Both Convention adoptions and the orphan adoption process (below) involve two basic U.S. determinations: (1) the suitability of the adoptive parents, and (2) whether the child’s adoption meets eligibility requirements in order for the child to immigrate to the U.S.
The Convention process involves a number of technical steps. The first step is to choose a Hague Adoption Service Provider (ASP) or an immigration lawyer. Second, you must complete a Hague adoption home study. Third, using USCIS Forms I-800A and I-800, apply for a determination on whether you are suitable for an inter-country adoption. Fourth, wait for USCIS to approve your application. Once approved, file a petition with USCIS (before adopting the child) for an eligibility determination on the child. Fifth, adopt the child abroad. Sixth, acquire an immigrant visa for the child. Finally, bring the child to the U.S. using the above-stated immigrant visa.
Currently there are over 70 countries recognized by the Convention.
The “Orphan Process”
The “orphan process” involves inter-country adoptions from non-Convention countries. The determinations for this process are the same for Convention adoptions. There are differences, however, which involve adoption service providers, adoption services contracts, home study, adoption fees, parent education, parental eligibility, adoptive child eligibility (including medical records), visa type/application, and the length of time adoption records are kept. The U.S. Department of State lists a chart of the differences between Convention and non-Convention adoptions here.
To begin the orphan process if you are married, you must adopt the child from abroad and file Form I-600. If you are unmarried, you must also follow these procedures, but you must be at least 25 years old to do so.
Immediate Relative Petition
Under this third type of adoption, an adopted child is considered to be the child (or adult son or daughter) of the adopting parent if: (1) the parent adopted the child before his or her 16th birthday (or before the 18th birthday under certain circumstances). You submit evidence of a full and final adoption
AND; (2) the parent had legal and physical custody of the child for at least two years while the child was a minor (certain other requirements must be met).
Both U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents may undergo a family-based petition for a child who is unmarried and under age 21, or an unmarried son or daughter under age 21. Only U.S. citizens may petition for a married son or daughter.
If you are considering adopting a child from another country, please contact us to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced immigration attorney. The attorneys at Genesis Law Firm have superior academic credentials and often charge significantly less than competing law firms. We also provide free Mandarin Chinese interpretation upon request. Please review our Frequently Asked Questions for more general information.