Over 70 countries are recognized by the United States as part of the Hague Adoption Convention. As such, inter-country adoptions among participating countries follow the Hague Adoption process.
The Hague Adoption Convention, or “The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption” to give it its full name, went into effect in the US on April 1, 2008. It aims to protect the rights of the prospective adoptive parent(s), the children, and the biological parents by placing adoption agencies and processes under the oversight of one, centralized authority in each participating country. In the United States, that central authority is the Department of State (DOS). Although the idea of inter-country adoption may seem daunting, the Hague process is, fortunately, fairly straightforward.
1. The first step is choosing a Hague-accredited Adoptive Services Provider (ASP). It is highly recommended at this time to hire an immigration attorney.
Inter-country adoption is subject to three different sets of laws: US federal law, the laws of the country of the child’s birth, and the laws where you reside. While your ASP can help you with the adoption process, it cannot provide legal advice or services. An ASP also cannot represent you before US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), with the exception when they have a licensed immigration attorney representing your immigration matters. Choosing the right ASP and immigration lawyer at the beginning will help with the rest of the process.
2. Have a home study done. USCIS is not directly responsible for home studies, so you will need to obtain one from someone who is authorized to complete Hague Adoption home studies.
3. File Form I-800A with USCIS to determine your suitability for inter-country adoption. This needs to be done before adopting a child or accepting a placement to determine suitability.
4. After your application has been approved, work with your ASP to get a proposed adoption placement.
5. Before adoption, but after getting a proposed adoption placement, file Form I-800 (sometimes called a “petition”) with USCIS to determine the specific child’s eligibility for inter-country adoption and immigration.
6. Upon provisional approval of the I-800, you can adopt the child or obtain custody of the child to adopt them in the US.
7. Secure an immigrant visa for your child.
8. Bring the child into the United States using the immigration visa.
While initiating the inter-country adoption process may seem overwhelming, approaching it with the right ASP and immigration lawyer will make any obstacles along the way easier to navigate. In the end, bringing your newly adopted child home will make the whole experience worthwhile.