International Adoption Basics

The number of American citizens adopting children is increasing each year. The number of children available for adoption within the United States is steadily decreasing. As a result, many US citizens have started adopting children from foreign countries. Each year, thousand of foreign children come to the United States after being adopted by US citizens or as potential adoptees.

International adoption is basically a private matter involving the individual or couple intending to adopting and a court in the foreign country from where the child is being adopted. The US government plays no role in the process. It cannot act on behalf of the prospective adoptive parents. The State Department however provides information about the adoption laws and processes in different countries and the legal requirements to get the child into the United States after the adoption.

Adoption Requirements

To bring the adopted child into the US, the adoptive parents must comply with the requirements of the US immigration law which is enforced by the USCIS. The parents must also comply with the legal requirements in the foreign country from where the child was adopted. If you are planning to bring an adopted child into the US, you should keep several copies of all the documents.

Applicable Laws

The adoptive parents and the child must comply with the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 101(b) (1) (E) deals with foreign adoptions. This section creates an immigrant classification for children adopted abroad by US citizens. There is a two year rule which says that the child must have resided with the adoptive parents for two years to be eligible for classification as a child adopted abroad by US citizens. However there is another section of the Act, Section 101(b) (1) (F) which helps adoptive parents overcome this two year requirement. Under this Section, orphans adopted or to be adopted by US citizens are granted immigrant classification. While this Section eliminates the 2 year requirement, the parents and the child must comply with the other immigration rules. Once the requirements of the immigration law are met, the child will be given a visa to enter the US.

State Department

The State Department can:

• provide you with information about the adoption laws and procedures in different countries
• provide you with information on the visa requirements for the adopted child to enter the US
• enquire with the US Embassy in a foreign country about the status of your adoption and document requirements
ensure that you are not discriminated against by the authorities in the foreign country because you are a US citizen

The State Department cannot:

• be involved in the adoption process
• act as your representative or attorney in a foreign court
• legalize an adoption or issue visa

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