Adoption Frequently Asked Question #9
How do I adopt a child from a non-U.S. country? What are the laws regarding intercountry adoptions?
In intercountry adoption, (i.e., adoption of a child from a non-U.S. country), prospective adoptive parent(s) need to follow the laws in their State, the laws of the child’s country of origin, and the federal policies and regulations of the Department of State (DOS) and the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In the United States, you must be a U.S. citizen 25 years of age or older to adopt from another country. If married, at least one spouse must be a U.S. citizen.
The process for intercountry adoption changed significantly with the U.S. implementation of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). This international treaty has been signed by approximately 75 countries. It is designed to protect the interests of all parties in adoption and to prevent the abduction or sale of children. The Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008. Thus, prospective adoptive parent(s) must determine if they plan to adopt from a non-Hague Adoption Convention country or a Hague Adoption Convention country. The Department of State maintains a list of Hague Adoption Convention countries at http://adoption.state.gov/hague_convention/countries.php. The procedures and rules for Hague Adoption Convention cases are markedly different from the procedures and rules for non-Hague Adoption Convention cases.
The U.S. Department of State is the Central Authority for the Hague Adoption Convention. It is responsible for implementing the Hague Convention, although there is also involvement by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). One important change under the Hague Adoption Convention is that adoption service providers (ASPs) that are providing adoption services in Hague cases must be accredited, temporarily accredited, approved, acting as a supervised provider, or exempt. DOS maintains a list of accredited/approved ASPs on its website at http://adoption.state.gov/hague_convention/accreditation.php.
Also, the immigration requirements for intercountry adoption will vary depending on whether a child comes from a Hague Adoption Convention country. For example, in adoptions involving a Hague Adoption Convention country, U.S. immigration requirements provide that a child’s birth parents may be living and may release the child for adoption, if they are incapable of caring for the child and other conditions are met. However, in adoptions from non-Hague Adoption Convention countries, a child must be considered an orphan under U.S. immigration law. A comparison of the adoption process in Hague and non-Hague Convention countries is provided in the Child Welfare Information Gateway publication, Intercountry Adoption from Hague Convention and Non-Hague Convention Countries, available online at http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/hague.cfm.
For more detailed information on intercountry adoption and the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, see the Adopting Children from Another Country section of Child Welfare Information Gateway website at http://www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/adoptive/other_country.cfm.
A listing of State-licensed private agencies with intercountry adoption programs is available from Child Welfare Information Gateway, through the online National Foster Care & Adoption Directory, at http://www.childwelfare.gov/nfcad. Agencies with a State license may or may not be accredited or approved at the Federal level. Consult the DOS list for current accreditation information for ASPs.