Navigating the Process of Bringing Your Adopted Child to the United States

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Adopting a child from another country is a deeply rewarding journey. Yet, the path to bringing your adopted child to the US can be intricate, involving numerous legal and logistical hurdles. Understanding the international adoption process and immigration laws is crucial. Equally important is preparing for potential challenges that may arise.

At Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, we have extensive experience handling international adoption cases. We understand the legal framework and step-by-step process to facilitate the arrival of your adopted child to the US. We can also protect your rights and devise strategies to overcome common challenges and ensure a smooth and successful transition for your family.

Legal Framework for International Adoption

The framework for international adoption comprises two key regulations: the Hague Adoption Convention and US immigration law. According to these laws, there are two processes for adopting children outside of the US: the Hague process and the orphan process.

The Hague Process

The Hague Adoption Convention is an international treaty to safeguard foreign country adoptions. It outlines the standards and procedures for adoption agencies, authorities, and courts in sending and receiving countries. As a party to the Convention, the US is bound by its provisions on internationally adopted children between the US and other members of the Hague Treaty.

The Hague process applies to children who reside in a Hague Convention country and meet the criteria of a convention adoptee. A convention adoptee must be under 16 years old, unmarried, and categorized as an orphan or must have obtained consent to adopt from their birth parents or legal guardians.

The Orphan Process

This applies to children residing in a non-Hague Convention country but meeting the orphan status definition. Qualifying as an orphan for an orphan petition requires the child to lack proper parental care due to death, disappearance, abandonment, or desertion. Alternatively, the child may have a sole or surviving parent or alien relative unable to provide care, having provided written consent for adoption. Similarly, an approved Form I-600A or Form I-600 must be obtained before a United States citizen can adopt the child or secure custody for adoption overseas.

Other Relevant Laws

Other essential processes and provisions to bringing your adopted child or reuniting your family in the US include:

The legal landscape of international adoption is intricate and depends on the circumstances of the adoption. Having a knowledgeable immigration lawyer by your side can be crucial to navigating the process successfully.

Step-by-Step Guide to Bringing Your Adopted Child to the US

The procedural steps in bringing your adopted child to the US differ based on whether you follow the Hague or orphan legal and physical custody processes. Nonetheless, specific common steps apply to both:

  1. Engage an Adoption Agency. This entity is authorized to provide adoption services in the US and the child’s country of origin. The agency will assist the adoptive parent with paperwork, documentation, and final adoption process coordination.
  2. Apply to USCIS for Adoption Eligibility. The adoptive parent must submit either Form I-800A or Form I-600A, depending on the selected process. You will also need to provide supporting documents and pay the requisite fees. The USCIS office will review the application, conducting a background check and reviewing home studies to assess suitability for adopting a child internationally.
  3. Apply to USCIS for Child’s Immigration Eligibility. You must then submit either Form I-800 or Form I-600, depending on the chosen process, along with requisite fees and supporting documents. USCIS will verify the child’s status as a convention adoptee or an orphan and ensure compliance with the Hague Adoption Convention and the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
  4. Complete Full and Final Adoption or Obtain Legal Custody. Prospective parents will need to travel to the child’s country of origin to complete the adoption process or secure legal custody of the child.
  5. Apply for a US immigrant visa for your child at the US embassy or consulate in the child’s country of origin. After completing the adoption, you must submit the child’s passport, visa application, medical examination results, and other documents demonstrating eligibility for immigration. You will also need to procure the child’s birth certificate, adoption decree, and other necessary documents evidencing the relationship with the child. Paying visa fees and attending an interview at a consular office is mandatory. Upon visa issuance, you can return to the US with your child.

Post-Adoption Immigration Procedures

After arriving in the US with your child, there are additional steps to finalize your child’s immigration status and citizenship:

  • Obtain a Certificate of Citizenship. This document verifies your child’s US citizenship status. Depending on the process followed and your child’s entry date, they may automatically acquire US citizenship upon arrival. Alternatively, they may have to finalize the adoption in the US after filing Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship with USCIS.

  • Obtain a Social Security Number. This unique identification number is required for tax, employment, and other purposes. Application for your child’s Social Security number involves presenting their passport, visa, Certificate of Citizenship, and adoption decree at your local Social Security office.

  • Obtain a US Passport. This travel document allows your child to travel outside the US and re-enter. Application for a US passport for your child involves presenting their passport, visa, Certificate of Citizenship, and adoption decree at your local post office or passport agency.

Common Challenges and How To Address Them

Bringing your adopted child to the US may not always unfold seamlessly. Challenges may arise during the process, causing stress and uncertainty. Navigating legal complexities and delays are common challenges of international adoption.

The intricate legal aspects of international adoption, unfamiliar laws and regulations, potential document discrepancies, or policy changes can cause difficulties for those unfamiliar with US immigration. Disputes or miscommunications with service providers, authorities, or courts may also arise, causing delays or denials.

To manage these complexities and challenges effectively, partnering with competent immigration lawyers in Dallas, Texas, is essential. A seasoned attorney can provide guidance, represent your interests, and mitigate legal risks, ensuring a smoother adoption and immigration process.

Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law Can Help You

While bringing your adopted child to the US is an enriching journey, it demands meticulous planning and understanding of legal frameworks. Familiarizing yourself with the international adoption process, US immigration laws, and the various stages of bringing your new family member to the US is crucial. Engaging the support and guidance of a reputable immigration lawyer can be invaluable for navigating this intricate process.

At Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, our experience in international adoption cases spans various countries like China, India, Ethiopia, Colombia, and more. We offer tailored legal strategies and unwavering commitment to client success, providing comprehensive support from initial consultation to adoption and immigration process completion. Whether following the Hague process or the orphan process, we aim to facilitate the smooth and efficient arrival of your adopted child to the US.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn more about our services or schedule a consultation. We look forward to assisting your growing family!