The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) established two types of international adoption in the United States. The two types are through the Hague Convention adoption process (convention adoptions) or through the Orphan adoption process (non-convention adoptions). There are important differences between the two types of international adoption processes.
The U.S., as well as most of the countries which U.S. residences adopt children from, is a member of the Hague Adoption Convention. The Hague Adoption Convention is intended to provide protection for everyone involved in international adoptions, but particularly the children being adopted.
Under the Hague Adoption Convention, a person in the U.S. wishing to adopt a child from a foreign country must:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Maintain habitual residence in the U.S.
- If married, sign Form I-800A together with his or her spouse and both must intend to adopt the child
- If unmarried, be at least 24 years of age at the time of filing Form I-800A and be at least 25 at the time of filing Form I-800
- After approval of Form I-800A, apply to the central authority of the country in which the prospective parent desires to adopt from – the central authority will propose a child to be adopted and, before the adoption occurs, Form I-800 must be filed on behalf of the child.
Non-Convention adoptions (also called orphan adoptions) occur between the U.S. and countries that are not members of the Hague Adoption Convention. An individual may adopt through the orphan adoption process if the following requirements are met:
- The person is a U.S. citizen
- If married, his or her spouse also signs Form I-600.
- If not married, he or she must be at least 25 years of age at the time of filing Form I-600.
The person must also establish that:
- He or she will provide proper parental care.
- The child who has been or will be adopted is an “orphan” as defined under U.S. immigration law.
- He or she (and spouse, if applicable) adopted the child abroad and that one of them personally observed the child prior to or during the proceeding to adopt.
- He or she will adopt the child in the U.S. after the child arrives (the person must have permission to bring the child to the U.S. for adoption).
An orphan is defined as a foreign-born child who:
- Does not have parents due to the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents.
- Has a sole or surviving parent but that parent is unable to care for the child consistent with the local standards of the country of origin and, in writing, has irrevocably released the child for adoption.
An orphan petition must be filed before the child reaches 16 years of age.
If you are interested in adopting a child, reach out to a skilled family law attorney today. An attorney would be happy to provide you the help you need to adopt a child either internationally or domestically.