International Adoptions

International adoption can offer a less expensive and often quicker option for adoptive parents, as opposed to a traditional adoption, but it can also raise a number of additional issues and concerns. For example, many of the countries offering children for adoption by prospective U.S. parents are not subject to the same standards or regulations. Prospective parents also may not get all of the relevant information about their adoptive child prior to the adoption, or may experience language or cultural barriers. Below you will find information on international adoption, including tips on the application process and related costs. You will also find links to overseas adoption resources from the federal government and other organizations.

Adoption Requirements

When planning an international adoption it is important to consider what legal obligations need to be fulfilled. International laws apply in an international adoption. Countries have different rules regarding the adoption of children depending on whether or not they have signed the Hague Convention. Countries that are party to the Hague Convention must follow certain procedures, while non-party countries may have their own.

Applicants will need to fulfill the requirements of the country where the child will be adopted, the immigration laws of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, and the adoption laws of your state of residence. Although procedures and required documents may be very similar, government interests in protecting children mean that requirements are often quite strict and failure to comply may seriously damage the ability to complete an adoption.

Foreign-Born Orphan Adoption

The U.S. has special procedures for the adoption of orphans. A child is considered an orphan if they have neither parent due to their death, disappearance, or abandonment. A child may also be considered an orphan where their sole parent is incapable of providing care for the child and has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption. U.S. Immigration law requires that an orphan petition be filed before the child's 16th birthday or before their 18th birthday if they have a natural sibling adopted by the same parents.

State Department Involvement

Although the U.S. State Department can be a valuable resource; there are limits to the help they can or will provide. The State Department will provide information about U.S. Visa requirements and international adoption policies and procedures. They can make inquiries to U.S. consular offices regarding the status of cases or to clarify documentation requirements and ensure that U.S. citizens are not discriminated against. The State Department will not involve itself directly in a foreign adoption process, represent adoptive parents, order an adoption, or order a visa to be issued.

Citizenship for Foreign-Born Children

Many adopted children born abroad acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States on account of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. At least one of the adopting parents must be a U.S. citizen, have custody of the child, and reside in the U.S. The child must be younger than 18. No certificate of naturalization is issued in this process, though the parents may request one through a separate application.