As of April 1, 2008, the US immigration rules on international adoptions changed dramatically as the US joined the Hague Convention on Intracountry adoptions. The US Department of State has since launched a new website, adoption.state.gov, that is intended to act as a central resource for adoptive parents, adoption agencies and others involved in the adoption process.
Hague Convention Subject Adoptions
If US citizens are adopting a child from a country that has also signed the Hague Convention, then the Form I-800 process is required to process US immigration status for the child. This process is complicated and it is extremely important to work with a Hague approved provider from the very start of a case.
The following is a rough guide to the Hague Convention process for seeking Immigration Status for an adopted child in the United States. This guide is intended to show a general path only, NOT as legal advice as there are many important details and options that could not be captured in a simple timeline:
- US prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) obtain a homestudy through an accredited agency- or certified under 22 CFR 96 and 8 CFR 204.301 that set the rules for Hague accredited home study providers).
- PAPs file Form I-800A. Before I-800A approval, written findings by Central Authority and birth parent consents, PAPs cannot have any form of contact with the child’s parents, legal custodian, or other individual or entity who was responsible for the child’s care.
- I-800A approval notice, home study and supporting documents are sent to Central Authority.
- The Central Authority in the sending country refers a child to the PAPs, with medical and social worker reports and its written findings about the status of the child, including that it is in the child’s best interest to be adopted internationally, that all consents have been freely given after appropriate counseling, and that no money or other kind of “inducement” have passed to get the consents. Consent to adoption must be obtained only by agency or individual authorized under the Hague Convention, Section 404(a)(1) and (c) of the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-279, 114 Stat. 825; 22 CFR 96.2.
- PAPs accept the referral.
- PAPs file I-800.
- I-800 is provisionally approved, and forwarded to US consular post near the child’s residence.
- PAPs file visa application for the child.
- US consular officer provides provisional approval of I-800, and transmits “Article Five letter” to the Central Authority.
- The adoption can then be finalized.
- PAPs take the final adoption decree back to the consular officer for final approval of the I-800 and green card.
Child enters the US, and automatically becomes a US citizen under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000
Adoptions Not Subject to the Hague Convention
If the sending country (the child’s country of origin) has not signed the Hague Convention, then the the Form I-600 orphan adoption and Immediate Relative petition for adopted child should be followed. Each of these categories requires careful analysis, and we strongly recommend a consultation with an attorney or accredited agency for anyone who is considering an international adoption.
- Definition of “orphan” for I-600 petition
- List of agencies that may serve as Primary Provider for I-600 for an identified adopter
Our in-firm adoption team is headed by Attorney Dan Berger, who specializes in complex international adoption cases. He is a frequent author, speaker, and authority on this topic, and is an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.
Help Finding Adoption Agencies in Specific Countries
Legislation in Congress
On May 19, 2016, HR 5285 was introduced in Congress by Rep. Marino (R-PA), Rep. Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. McDermott (D-WA) and Rep. Higgins (D-NY).
HR 5285 calls for changes to the Department of State’s Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices so it includes violations of unparented children’s rights, specifically the unnecessary holding of children in institutions and associated denial of timely access to domestic and international adoption.
This bill is supported by adoption advocates, including the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.
- Read the bill here
- Washington Examiner: Groundbreaking human rights of children bill introduced in Congress
- Boston Globe: U.S. can save children by upholding international adoption rights
This bill was introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) introduced this bill to make the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 retroactive. It would extend citizenship to adult green card holders who received permanent residency through adoption but never became naturalized.
- Read the bill here
- Huffington Post: They’ve lived their lives as Americans, but they can still be deported
- Washington Post: They grew up as American citizens, then realized they weren’t
- The International Adoption Sourcebook (Dan H. Berger, Editor-in-Chief) is a comprehensive resource covering international adoption issues. It provides guidance on intercountry adoption, habitual residency, visas for children, U.S. citizenship for adopted children, immigration alternatives to adoption, and more.
- “Adoption – What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You,” with Dan H. Berger, panelist, is a 90-minute audio seminar available from AILA. It discusses the new mandatory procedures for adopting children from Hague Convention countries. For further reading about the Hague Convention’s impact on intercountry adoption, see also “Intercountry Adoption, Domestic Adoption and the Post-Hague Landscape,” published in AILA’s 2012-13 Immigration Practice Pointers sourcebook.
- For information on the Adopted Children and the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (still relevant today), see Attorney Berger’s article: “Adopted Children and the Child Citizenship Act of 2000“
- See also Attorney Berger’s article, “Improving the Safety and Efficiency of Foreign Adoptions: U.S. Domestic Adoption Programs and Adoption Programs in Other Countries Provide Lessons for INS Reform”
- FAQ: Adoption of Children from Countries in which Islamic Shari’a Law is Observed, from the Department of State
- The Importance of Choosing a Primary Provider FIRST When Adopting Internationally, RainbowKids
- CCAI: The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute – a nonprofit, nonpartisan agency advocating for children needing families in the U.S. and all around the world
- Guidance on Supervising Foreign Providers – Guidance from the Department of State addressing supervision of adoption service providers and facilitators in the United States and in foreign countries.
- Multiple Citizenship in Adoption: An Introduction – from the National Council for Adoption. An explanation of dual citizenship and which countries allow it.
- DNA and the Search for Answers, Adoption Today. Discussing DNA testing for adoption, seeking biological relatives, ethnicity and within US immigration law.
- Adoption and Reproductive Technology Law in Massachusetts (Dan H. Berger, Co-Author) – A comprehensive guide to the complex and fast-changing areas of adoption and reproductive technology law.