Before you plan an intercountry adoption, it’s best to find out if the country you’re planning to adopt a child from is party to the Hague Adoption Convention.
What are the differences between Hague Convention and non-Hague Convention adoption requirements? How can it affect the adoption process?
USCIS & Intercountry Adoption Regulations
Adopting a child from a different country is a long process. Before you can bring a child to the United States, US Citizenship and Immigration Services determines whether a child is eligible to be adopted in accordance with the US Immigration and Nationality Act.
USCIS has set laws for both Hague Convention countries and non-Hague Convention countries so that US citizens do not end up bringing home a child who is not eligible to immigrate.
Hague Convention Adoption Requirements
Children being adopted from a Hague Convention country must qualify as a Convention adoptee in order to immigrate to the United States, and USCIS is the federal agency that determines whether a particular child meets this definition.
The US State Department has a list of the countries that are party to the Convention. Whether the country is a part of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption will affect the adoption process.
To find out whether a child is eligible for classification as a Hague Convention adoptee, prospective parents must file Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, in addition to Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country.
Before you file your adoption application with USCIS and have your personal documents translated, however, make sure the child meets the six basic elements to the Hague Convention adoptee classification:
1) The child lives in a country that is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.
2) The child is under the age of 16.
3) The child is unmarried.
4) The child will be adopted by married US citizens or by an unmarried US citizen at least 25 years of age.
5) The child’s birth parents, sole parent or other legal custodians, individuals, or entities whose consent is necessary for adoption, freely gave written irrevocable consent to the termination of their legal relationship with the child.
6) Accredited adoption service providers must be used when required, and there can be no indication of fraud, misrepresentation or prohibited contact associated with the adoption case.
Non-Hague Convention Adoption Requirements
According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, children being adopted from non-Hague Convention countries must meet the definition of an orphan.
Prospective parents must file I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, in conjunction with Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, to see if the child qualifies to immigrate to the United States under USCIS’ laws.
While similar to the adoption requirements set in place for Hague Convention adoptees, non-Hague children have their own set of regulations:
1) The child is under the age of 16.
2) The child is unmarried.
3) The child will be adopted by married US citizens or by an unmarried US citizen at least 25 years of age.
4) The child either has no parents or has a sole or surviving parent who is unable to care for the child and has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption.
5) If required, accredited adoption service providers must be used in conjunction with the case, and there must be no indication of fraud, misrepresentation or prohibited contact.
Summary of Adoption Regulations
USCIS goes to great lengths to ensure that Hague Convention procedures are followed to the letter for Convention adoptions.
In countries that are not party to the Hague Convention, USCIS needs absolute proof of the child’s orphan status before an adoption can take place. Without the strict procedures of the Hague Convention, USCIS must ensure that the child’s adoption is absolutely valid and legitimate, and the only way to appropriately govern these adoptions is by requiring that the child is a bona fide orphan.
If you’re unsure how to proceed, contact Legal Language to speak with one of our in-house attorneys.