International Adoption
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Adoption

International Child Adoption

General overview: This area of the website provides both general information and specific guidance to U.S. citizens seeking information about international adoption. 

FAQ provides answers to the questions most commonly asked by people wanting to adopt a child from another country

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Help Prevent Child Abuse

International Child Adoption

Child Abuse Hotline provides a resource for you to call 24 hours a day, seven days a week if you know of a child who has been abused or is in danger of being abused.

General information on abuse will provide you with more information regarding child abuse and child abuse prevention.

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Government Agencies

International Child Adoption

Agencies A-Z gives you a comprehensive list of the hundreds of federal agencies and departments many of which can be a valuable resource for persons adopting both internationally and domestically.  Every federal agency and every federal department of the agencies is listed here.

Child Welfare will help you to contact your local child welfare agency, such as the Department of Human Resources, Department of Public Welfare, or the Department of Child Protective Services. The professionals in these offices can be very helpful.

Elected Officials and their staff members can be of great assistance to an adopting family if you run into problems or delays during the adoption process.  This section of the website will provide you with information on how to contact your senators, representatives, governors and other elected officials.

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Adoption Choices

International Child Adoption

Domestic vs International adoption is one of the ways of classifying all adoptions. A domestic adoption involves adopting a child who is a citizen of the same country as the adopting persons.  In an international adoption, the birth mother and adopting family are citizens of, and live in, different countries. An international adoption can allow you to experience all of the joys and emotions of being a parent but, as with domestic adoptions, the adoption process is fraught with potential problems and concerns.  An international adoption must meet the requirements of the state, U.S. Government, and foreign governments.

Agency vs private adoption is another way of classifying all adoptions.  An agency adoption is arranged through an adoption agency. The most important factor in selecting an agency is that they have met the requirements of your state and are fully licensed to provide you with a full range of professional services. To check if an agency or organization is licensed, contact them and ask for their license number and the phone number of the licensing authority. Then call the authority and confirm that the information given to you is correct. A private adoption is arranged through a personal contact, often a foreign citizen, lawyer, or a physician. These kinds of adoptions are much more risky than an agency adoption.

Adoption Agencies come in a variety of forms. They can be for-profit or non-profit, public or private, domestic or international.  But the most important fact for you to remember is that agencies are licensed to make sure you have options and protections that are not available when you deal directly with a birth mother or a private citizen.  This source of information provides you with specific tips on how to select the agency that is best for you.

Adoption Attorneys can play a very important role in adoption.  An attorney is critical if you have decided to adopt without the help of an agency.  If you are going to work with a licensed adoption agency, which every family who adopts internationally should seriously consider, you do not need to worry about obtaining an attorney since the agency will help you make sure all the legal issues are taken care of.  If you are proceeding with a private adoption, then you should always obtain your own attorney.

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Child Adoption Laws

International Child Adoption

Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption established a set of internationally agreed minimum requirements and procedures to govern intercountry adoptions.  Additionally, it mandates that persons wishing to adopt a child resident in another party country must initially apply to a designated authority in their own country to obtain approval for intercountry adoption.

Adoption Act of 2000 is designed to provide for implementation by the United States of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect to Intercountry Adoption.  The Act accepted standards and procedures for adoptions between implementing countries that prevents abuses.

Child Citizen Act confers United States citizenship automatically and retroactively to certain foreign-born children adopted by citizens of the United States. 

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act guarantees adopted children the same access to health insurance as birth children. Since health insurance company information given to adopting families about the heath insurance coverage regarding an adoption is often inconsistent, confusing, and at times incorrect, it is very important that adopting families be aware of this act.

Family Medical Leave Act requires that an employer must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for the employee to adopt a son or daughter.

State Laws for all fifty states are listed here, by state, as well as U.S. federal laws and international adoption laws. A family involved in an international adoption must meet the requirements of the state, US and foreign governments. By being informed about state, federal and international laws you can avoid many potential problems.

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Documentation for Adoption

International Child Adoption

Passports are required to enter and leave most foreign countries. To obtain a passport for the first time, you need to go in person to one of the thousands of passport acceptance facilities located throughout the United States with two photographs of yourself, proof of U.S. citizenship, and a valid form of photo identification such as a driver's license.

Authentication of documents is necessary in all international adoptions. Documents issued in one country which need to be used in another country must be "authenticated" or "legalized" before they can be used as valid in the foreign country. This is a process in which various seals are placed on the document. Every adopting family adopting internationally should be aware of this critical process.

Fingerprinting for criminal record clearance is required for all international adoptions and in many domestic adoptions. 

USCIS I-600 and I-800 refers to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service forms that are used as the quickest way to bring a foreign-born child that an adopting family hopes to adopt to the U.S. Form I-600A is used for non-Hague Adoption cases and Form I-800A is used for Hague Adoption cases.  It is critical that an adopting family file a USCIS form I-600 or I-800 before the adopting family formally identifies a foreign-born child to adopt.

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Financial Help for Adopting Families

International Child Adoption

Tax credit for adoption is part of The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. The maximum credit is approximately $12,000 per eligible child, including a child with special needs. The adoption credit is an amount subtracted from your tax liability. An adoption ID number is used when an adopting family is applying for a child deduction on their U.S. income tax return and does not have a social security number for the child.

Employer assistance and employer-provided adoption benefits are being provided by an ever growing number of employers. In a 1990, approximately 12 percent of employers surveyed offered some kind of adoption benefits; by 1995 the proportion had climbed to 23 percent. This site examines 1) What types of benefits do employers offer to help with adoption; 2) What are the eligibility criteria and conditions for receiving adoption benefits; and 3) Which employers offer adoption benefits?

Special needs child may be eligible for special adoption assistance.  Children with special needs may qualify for adoption assistance (also called "adoption subsidy"), which is paid to adoptive families to help them defray expenses related to their child's need for ongoing therapies or treatment. The two major funding sources of adoption assistance (subsidy) are the Federal Title IV-E program under the Social Security Act and State programs, which vary from State to State.

Organizations to help adopting persons can be excellent sources of information and support. Listed here are several organization resources from private sources and those supported by the US Government.  Included are organizations for those adopting families adopting internationally from China, Guatemala, and Russia.

State Help: Each state has a special website and special contacts to help a person or couple who is interested in an domestic child adoption or an international child adoption.

Financial Help: There are various forms of financial help available for international child adoption if you know where to look.

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Medical

International Child Adoption

Health and disease provides good infant and child care advice.  Included is health related information from a variety of sources including the Mayo Clinic, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institutes of Health, and the world's largest medical library, the National Library of Medicine. It has extensive information from other trusted sources on over 700 diseases and conditions.

Health insurance company information given to adopting families about the heath insurance coverage regarding an adoption is often inconsistent, confusing, and at times incorrect.  It is very important that any adopting family carefully review its health insurance coverage.  It may be very helpful for the adopting person(s) to note that buried in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 is a provision that guarantees adopted children the same access to health insurance as birth children.

Medical clinics can be very helpful after you receive an international adoption referral from your agency.  This University of Minnesota International Adoption Medical Information Clinic will review the referral materials and offer you a medical opinion on the health of the child you are planning to adopt.

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More Countries Adoption

International Child Adoption

More country info regarding international adoption in specific foreign countries is provided by the U.S. Department of State.  Their excellent website helps with information on how to proceed with an adoption in any particular country.  Please remember that the laws of every country are different and in an international adoption you must meet the laws of the country the child is coming from as well as the laws of your country of residence and the laws of your state of residence.

ICC report is the Report on Intercountry Adoption.  The report is an extensive compilation of information regarding International Adoption programs and licensed agencies in all 50 states. There are also numerous articles regarding adoption related issues. The Report on Intercountry Adoption is available in two formats: print and online as a PDF file. The Report on Intercountry Adoption is available only through the Adoption Resource Center of Connecticut website.

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Russia Adoption

International Child Adoption

Russia is the largest country in the world and many regions in Russia have infants, children, and sibling groups that can be adopted. The Persons adopting from Russia will either work directly with one of these Russian accredited agencies or work with a U.S. licensed adoption agency that sub-contracts with a Russian accredited agency.  In fact, since the number of Russian accredited agencies, as compared with U.S. approved licensed agencies, is miniscule, the majority of  U.S. adopting families do not work with a Russian accredited agency, but rather work with a U.S. licensed sub-contracting program.

Who can adopt:  The Russian government has no marital restrictions on adoption and both single persons and couples can adopt Russian children. In practice, in recent years, single males have not been allowed to adopt in Russia while single females have had no trouble. The Russian government has no rules about length of marriage. Regarding the issue of age, the only set age limit is that a person must be at least 25 years of age. Families with biological and/or adopted children already in the home are permitted to adopt. 

Waiting time from the time an adopting family starts the process until the child is finally adopted will vary from as short as 4 months to longer than a year, with the "average" being approximately 9 months. The length of time your adoption will take depends on many factors including your motivation to complete your paperwork and the length of time it takes for acceptance of a child referral.

Adoption process in Russia can be a bit more complicated than adopting a child from other foreign countries. The first part of the process, similar to any foreign adoption, is to apply to the INS for advanced approval. The second part of the process involves submission of the dossier to Russia a child being referred to you. The third part of the process is for the adopting family to accept or reject the child referral and travel to Russia.  In step 4 the adopting family visits the child and returns to the U.S. without the child.  The adopting family then makes a second trip to Russia for the adoption.

Available children include babies relinquished in the hospital at birth to orphanages and older children who are removed from their families. Infants and children from approximately ages 6 months to 14 years old are available.  Boys are more readily available than girls. In addition to healthy children, siblings and children with special needs are also available.

Multiple adoptions involving Russian children are possible. Aside from sibling groups, families can request twins, or two unrelated children.  Twins are as rare in Russia as they are in the U.S. Since adopting two non-related children at the same time can be very complex and cause the adopting family and children extraordinary adjustments, it is usually recommended that the adopting family consider adopting only one child at a time.

Travel issues for international adoption covers several issues.  Adoption of a Russian child will involve at least two trips to Russia.  Your stress will be less if you are prepared to be flexible. Typically, your agency will help you with the travel plans and will arrange for you to be met and guided through every step of your trip to Russia by representatives working with the agency.

Costs and fees include your registration, application, and home study fees. Additionally, there may be a home study review fee as well as a program fee, agency service fee, foreign fee, Dossier fees for notarized, authenticated, and apostle documents, INS fees, state criminal, child abuse, and FBI clearances, Russian governmental fees, orphanage fee, post placement fees, travel fees and more.  Note that the total fee will also vary depending on the home study and U.S. adoption agencies you deal with to complete your adoption and also depend on the region in Russia where your child comes from.

Other information includes maps, information on Russia and its many regions, travel help and information, sources of general information about Russia, Russian culture, life, entertainment, travel, culture, and the Russian people.

Support groups provide a support network for families who've adopted in Russia and provide information to those thinking of adopting a Russian child. Support groups and resources include adoption facilitation services, pre-adoption/adoption travel assistance, culture, language, and travel programs.

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Guatemala Adoption

International Child Adoption

NOTE: Currently the U.S. government is not allowing adoptions from this country.

Guatemala has been a source of healthy boys and girls for many years with children coming from either foster care homes or from orphanages. In 2002 there were approximately 2,200 adoptions of Guatemalan children by U.S. families and in 2003 there were approximately 2,300. All international adoptions in Guatemala are handled by private attorneys since there is no state-run central adoption authority.  

Who can adopt a child from Guatemala? Guatemala allows both single individuals and couples over the age of 25 to adopt. Persons with previous divorces are permitted as are persons who already have a child or children in their home.  Single men are usually discouraged from adopting in Guatemala and a single man should consult an adoption agency regarding its ability to help him.  Nobody in the adopting household may have a serious criminal background. Make sure you ask each agency you contact about their specific guidelines and restrictions.

Waiting time will vary from as short as 4 months to as long as 18 months. Whether it will take the shorter or the longer of the estimates depends on many factors including your individual level of motivation to complete the paperwork and on the U.S. and Guatemalan governments' backlogs.  In Guatemala the waiting time for a young male child is less than for that of a young female.

Adoption process requires approximately four major steps in most foreign countries, including Guatemala. The first step in the process is to pick the country you want to adopt from, select an agency to assist you with the international placement, and to have your home study completed by a reputable agency. The second step is to assemble the critical documents that will be needed in Guatemala. The third step involves submission of your adoption dossier to Guatemala and waiting for your agency, through their Guatemalan adoption attorneys or the Guatemalan Government, to provide a referral. The fourth step is the acceptance of a referral and the travel to Guatemala to pick up the adopted child.

Referral process and the sequence of events in an adoption may vary from case to case.  However, the following should give you the general idea of how the adoption process proceeds: 1) the birth mother who wishes to place her child for adoption contacts a Guatemalan adoption attorney;2) the referral is then sent to the adopting family for review and acceptance; 3) the family's adoption file is translated and submitted to the authorities and  DNA testing of the birth mother and child takes place; 4) the Guatemala adoption attorney submits the adoption case file and a petition for approval of the adoption to the Provincial Government National; 5) the Guatemala adoption attorney then has the documents recorded and requests a new birth certificate; and 6) the adoptive parents travel to Guatemala.

Available children are of Hispanic, Mestizo or Spanish/Mayan decent. They include both males and females ranging in age from several weeks old to teenagers. Boys are often referred more quickly than girls. Guatemalan children are generally healthy. The children become available by way of two different processes; the first is "abandonment" and the second is "relinquishment". 

Multiple adoptions are possible from Guatemala but unless the children are siblings it can be a very difficult process to coordinate.  If you are considering adopting more than one child in the same trip, make sure that with your home study adoption agency from the onset since it will need to be addressed in the interviews and in the home study report.

Travel issues covers a broad area of concern. While an adopting family can make only one trip, the adopting family has the option to travel multiple times to Guatemala during their adoption process. Once a family has accepted a referral, the adopting family is permitted to travel to Guatemala to see the child.

Costs and fees will include your registration, application, and Home Study fees. Additionally, there may be a home study review fee as well as a Program fee, Agency Service fee, Dossier fees for notarization, authentication, and certification of documents, INS fees, state criminal, child abuse, and FBI clearances, Guatemala governmental fees, post placement fees, and travel fees. The total fee will vary depending on the agency you deal with to complete your adoption. Make sure when you are comparing agency costs that the services provided are comparable.

Other information includes maps, information on Guatemala and its provinces, travel help and information, sources of general information about Guatemala, Guatemalan culture, life, entertainment, travel, culture, and the Guatemalan people.

Support groups provide a support network for families who've adopted in Guatemala and provide information to those thinking of adopting a Guatemalan child. Support groups and resources include adoption facilitation services, pre-adoption/adoption travel assistance, culture, language, and travel programs.

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China Adoption

International Child Adoption

China overview:  By 1995, Americans alone had adopted over 2,000 Chinese girls, and by 1998 over 4,000 girls had been adopted from China.  By 2002 this number had reached 5000 and by 2003 it was over 6000.  Today, China remains one of the most popular countries for families seeking international adoption. In 1996 the Chinese government established the China Center of Adoption Affairs , the central authority overseeing all China adoptions.  The CCAA is responsible for providing a smooth and structured adoption process for adoptive parents.

Who can adopt in China is set by the China Center for Adoption Affairs, the central authority overseeing all China adoptions, which sets eligibility requirements for all foreign adoptive parents. Potential parents who meet the China Center for Adoption Affairs requirements are matched with children. This area of content will cover such eligibility requirements as the age of the adopting persons, marital status, income levels, health, citizenship issues, criminal backgrounds, and other requirements.

Waiting time to adopt a Chinese child will usually vary from 36-48 months. Usually, the biggest factor influencing the wait for a Chinese child will be the time it takes the China Center for Adoption Affairs to make a referral to a family. China offers a special Expedited Referral Service, which allows parents to receive referrals in a shorter amount of time if the adopting family is interested in adopting a child with severe special needs or if one or both parents were born in China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan.

Adoption process in China can be seen as taking place in four steps. The first step is to complete your dossier.   Once your dossier has been submitted and registered with the China Center for Adoption Affairs, you have officially begun the adoption proceedings as far as China is concerned. After this step, it is a matter of waiting for the Chinese government to provide a referral. The third step is  the acceptance of a referral. With this information, families either accept or reject the referral. When a referral is accepted, the adoptive family will take the fourth step and travel to China to complete their adoption.

Available children for adoption in China are as young as 3 months through approximately 13 years of age.  While the great majority of Chinese children available for adoption are girls, occasionally a healthy male infant will be referred to a family for adoption. In addition to healthy children, children with special needs are also available for adoption. In comparison to other underdeveloped countries, the overall health of Chinese orphans is exceptional. 

Multiple adoptions is only possible by returning to China and repeating the adoption process. Families can request twins, but they are as rare in China as they are in the U.S. The adoption of two unrelated children is not allowed.  The possibility of adopting siblings exists, but it is rare. 

Travel issues deals with a variety of areas. Currently, only one trip to China is necessary to complete an adoption. Prior to traveling to China, both the U.S. and the China Center for Adoption Affairs must approve the adopting person(s) for the adoption of a Chinese child; thus, the adopting family's referral will be made prior to your trip to China. Accordingly, you do not have to worry about traveling and not having an adoption take place. In the case of a couple, both adopting persons do not have to travel to China. 

Costs and fees for adopting a child from China are frequently less that those of many other international adoption programs. China adoptions are structured and consistent. Total expenses will include your registration, application, and Home Study fees. Additionally, there may be a home study review fee as well as a Program fee, Agency Service fee, Dossier fees for naturalization, authentication, and certification of documents, INS fees, state criminal, child abuse, and FBI clearances, Chinese governmental fees, post placement fees, and travel fees.

Other information includes maps, information on China and its provinces, travel help and information, sources of general information about China, Chinese culture, life, entertainment, travel, culture, and the Chinese people.

Support groups provide a support network for families who have adopted in China and provide information to those thinking of adopting a Chinese child. Support groups and resources include adoption facilitation services, pre-adoption/adoption travel assistance, culture, language, and travel programs. The information also provides other adoption and China related resources available on the Web and includes a database containing almost 900 adoption-related support groups from across the United States and Canada.

CCAA, the China Center of Adoption Affairs, is the central authority overseeing all international China adoptions.  All international adoptions from China go through the CCAA.

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Post Adoption Issues

International Child Adoption

Returning to USA with your adopted child is addressed by the US Department of State.  When entering the United States for the first time with an adopted child, the adopting family should be prepared to leave certified copies of all adoption documents at the airport with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officers. Remember to keep copies of everything turned over to the port of entry U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer. A child adopted in a foreign country must have an immigrant visa. There are three different types of immigrant visas, and the kind your child will need depends on the adoption situation.

Emotional Issues: A family and the adopted child can find themselves facing some emotional and developmental issues and concerns that are different than those faced by a child that has been biologically born into the family.

Child development issues and concerns with an adopted child can be different from those faced by a child that has been biologically born into the family. This resource area deals with: 1. What to expect at different ages; 2. The facts of life: where do I come from and how did I get here; 3. Children who are adopted when they are older or who are of a different race; 4. Emotional impact of adoption; and 5. Searching for birth parents issues.

Explaining adoption can be difficult since many adopting parents are conflicted over when and how to explain adoption to the adopted child, to other children in the family, and to friends and relatives.  Adoption is an issue of importance not only to the persons most directly involved in the adoption triad - the child, the adoptive parents, and the birth parents - but also to siblings, extended family members, neighbors, teachers and doctors.

Adoption and schools is an important area. This resource area looks at three areas: 1) how adoption impacts a youngster in school; 2) specific educational problems that are common to adopted children; and 3) ways to help students, teachers, principals, and other school personnel to become more sensitive to adoption issues. 

Parenting adolescents explores the effects of adoption on adolescent development and behavior.  The content also reviews the reactions of teens who were adopted at an older age and provides suggestions for parental response to problems. Topics discussed include parenting the adopted adolescent, how children develop, typical adolescent behavior, adoption and adolescence, when parents should become concerned, and what they can do to help.

Therapeutic help and timely intervention by a professional skilled in adoption issues often can prevent issues common to adoption from becoming more serious problems. Sometimes a problem a child is experiencing is obviously connected to adoption, but sometimes the connection is not readily apparent. Clinicians with adoption knowledge and experience are best suited to help families identify connections between problems and adoption and to plan effective treatment strategies. 

More Therapeutic Help: Finding a therapist who understands the unique challenges faced by an adopted child can often make a huge difference in how well that child is able to adapt to adoption related issues.

Re-adopting in USA is a critical issue for every  family adopting internationally. If the child is fully adopted overseas, there is no federal requirement for re-adoption in the United States. Re-adoption of a child is required in the United States when an IR-4 immigrant visas has been issued to by a Consular Officer overseas. Re-adoption is not required for IR-3 orphan visas. Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, an adopted child who has been issued an IR-3 immigrant visa ("Orphan adopted broad by a U.S. citizen") automatically becomes a U.S. citizen immediately upon his/her admission into the United States in the legal and physical custody of his/her U.S. citizen adoptive parent.

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