Adoption is an amazing thing. Although adoption can occur within the United States, it often happens in other countries. But intercountry adoption isn’t easy. The process involves many moving parts. In addition to complying with American laws, you also need to follow the laws of the country from which you are adopting.
There are many missteps you can make during an international adoption. By working with an immigration lawyer in Florida, you can prevent mistakes. Here at the Florida Immigration Law Counsel, you can be on your way to bringing a new family member home.
Laws Regarding a Hague Adoption
If you’re adopting from another country, U.S. adoption laws are important. In addition to complying with them, you also must comply with the laws of your potential child’s country of origin.
For instance, some countries have laws that mandate you to stay in the child’s country of origin for a few weeks. Until you meet that requirement, you cannot begin the adoption process.
Before you initiate the adoption, you should familiarize yourself with state, federal, and foreign laws. Failing to comply with one or more laws could keep your family from growing. To avoid breaking a law or ruining your chances at adoption, you should speak with someone who is an expert on adoption law.
What is a Hague Adoption
One common method of adoption is known as a Hague adoption. This complies with the details outlined in the Hague Adoption Convention. For this type of adoption to occur, the child must meet these requirements:
- Be under 16 years of age at the time the form is filed
- Live in a country that is included in the Hague Convention
- Be eligible for adoption in their own country
- Have all the permissions for adoption
The parent also needs to meet some requirements. For one, they need to be a citizen of the United States. They also must live in the U.S. If they are married, their spouse needs to agree to also adopt the child.
If the applicant is not married, the need to be a minimum of 24 years of age by the time they file their first form. They need to be 25 by the time they file the form I-800.
The process is rather detailed. First, they need to work with an adoption agency accredited by the Hague Convention. Although they don’t need to work with an attorney, it’s highly recommended. The adoption agency is not allowed to give you any legal advice.
The parents also need to do the following:
- Participate in a home study performed by an authorized individual
- Submit the home study
- Prior to the adoption, apply to the USCIS on behalf of the child
- Work on placement with the adoption agency
- Fill out an Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child, which can determine their eligibility for the adoption
- After the form is approved, the parents need to submit a Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative
- Officially adopt or get custody of the child
- Get the immigration visa for the child
- Take the child to the U.S.
The Laws Regarding an Orphan Adoption
Another type of adoption is an orphan adoption, also known as a non-Hague adoption. With this process, the U.S. government requires that the child was abandoned or deserted, or both parents died or disappeared. Or, it requires that the child only has one surviving parent who cannot give them the proper care. In this situation, the parent needs to write out a statement releasing their child for adoption.
Parents who want an orphan adoption need to meet these requirements:
- Have U.S. citizenship
- Be at least 25 years of age at the time of filing the I-600 petition
- Have your spouse sign a Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative (if you have a spouse)
- Show that you can give the necessary care for your child
- Prove the child is an orphan (in accordance with U.S. immigration laws)
- Either have adopted the child overseas and have seen them in person before the adoption, or plan to adopt the child in the U.S. (only if you have permission to take them from their country)
Much like a Hague adoption, an orphan adoption has a complex process. The USCIS or U.S. Department of State must conduct a home study. You need to file an orphan petition and need to do so before the child turns 16. If they are a sibling of a child you’ve already adopted, you need to file before they turn 18.
After you file all of the required forms, the government will either approve or deny your request. If they approve it, you can apply for a visa for your child. Then, you can bring them into the U.S.
The Path to Citizenship
It’s a common misconception that adopted children automatically become U.S. citizens. But this is not always the case. They only are granted automatic citizenship if they live in the legal custody of the parent, are an immigrant with lawful permanent residence, and the adoption is finalized.
Typically, whether or not the child has citizenship depends on their type of visa. They must be on IH-4 or IR-4 visas.
There may be steps you need to take to get them citizenship. However, the process is not straightforward. When you work with an immigration attorney, they can explain more about the path to citizenship.
Get Assistance with Intercountry Adoption
In Florida, the average household has 2.46 people. Many families are looking to expand their households, and they turn to adoption to accomplish that goal. However, adoption can take years and cost thousands of dollars. Even more, it’s not guaranteed. Along the way, you can encounter many challenges.
If you’re interested in expanding your family, you should contact the Florida Immigration Law Counsel. We know what it takes for a successful adoption, and we’ll work hard to get you the happy conclusion you deserve. Contact us today and learn more.
There are other ways of adopting foreign-born children under U.S. Immigration law. To speak with an experienced Adoption Attorney who can navigate your family through the process, call the Florida Immigration Law Counsel at 1-800-666-4996 today.