A Guide to the International Adoption Process

By Katherine at Legal Language
Posted on 04/05/2010
In Adoption



Every year, tens of thousands of people in the United States choose to go through the international adoption process. Many people choose international adoption for a variety of reasons — and although the international adoption process can be complicated, sometimes it is no more difficult than adopting a child from the US.

International adoption is a legal matter between the people adopting, the parents or agency who has the child and the foreign courts. While US authorities are unable to intervene or provide extensive assistance to US citizens going through the international adoption process, there is plenty of information available to make the process as easy as possible.

International Adoption Requirements

To begin the international adoption process, the prospective parents must fulfill the requirements set by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as well as the requirements set by the child’s country.

Some countries’ regulations for the international adoption process may include meeting a minimum income requirement, being of a certain marital status and visiting or living in the country for a period of time. Even religious beliefs can come into question.

All of the procedures, submission of documents and required paperwork may be tedious to complete, but it is an essential part of the international adoption process. It is highly recommended that prospective parents keep several copies of every document that is submitted or received during the international adoption process.

The Basic Steps to International Adoption

The international adoption process is complicated and can vary depending on the country of the child. However, we have compiled some of the basic steps that prospective parents should prepare for when considering international adoption.

  • Look into a home study — a series of meetings with a social worker in your state that allows you to learn about international adoption issues, to determine your suitability to parent a child and to help prepare you for the experience.
  • Submit an application to US Citizenship and Immigration Services. It may take several months to process your application, so you should begin this step early.
  • Collect the necessary documents that are required by the adoption country. These may include: birth certificates, a marriage certificate, letters confirming employment, medical histories and references. Most of the documents you collect will also be required for the completion of your home study, and must be notarized, authenticated and translated.
  • Travel to your child’s country to finalize the adoption. Depending on the country, the trip will range from a few days to several weeks, and sometimes more than one trip is required. Bilingual interpreters are able to facilitate communication overseas.
  • Obtain an immigrant visa from the US Embassy in the country and return home with the child.
  • Participate in post-placement supervision with your home study agency, which will likely include follow-up visits. Reports of these visits, along with photos of your child, will be forwarded to adoption officials in the child’s birth country to confirm that the child is loved and is adjusting well.

While this seems like a lot to handle, it’s important to keep in mind that the international adoption process is designed to protect the child, his or her birth parents or the adoption agency as well as the child’s prospective parents.


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