Over the years, celebrities like Madonna and Angelina Jolie have raised awareness about international adoption. Foreign adoption allows parents to build the families they have longed for while providing children the priceless gift of a loving home. However, international adoption is also a complex process involving state laws, federal laws, and immigration laws.
Agents at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determine if a person is eligible to adopt internationally. Americans choosing to adopt a child from another country should consider the following requirements before pursing foreign adoption:
- Adoptive parent(s) must be United States citizens
- Applicant(s) must pass background and criminal checks
- Married couples must adopt the child jointly
- Unmarried parent(s) seeking to adopt must be at least 25 or older
A Philadelphia immigration lawyer can explain any additional requirements, both in Pennsylvania and in the country where the child resides.
The Hague Convention and International Adoption
In 1993, an international agreement called the “Hague Convention” was established to safeguard children involved in international adoption. Parents who adopt from participating countries benefit from additional protections, including:
- Adoption agency transparency: Applicants are fully aware of the fees and expenses related to the adoption process.
- Adoption agency screening: Adoption agencies are vetted by the Department of State.
- Hague adoption certificate: This verifies the adoptions meet Hague Convention standards.
- Visa eligibility: The adopted child generally meets visa requirements, making him or her eligible for entry into the United States.
The Orphan Process for International Adoption
If the Hague Convention does not apply, or the child lives in a country that does not participate in the Hague Convention, another route to foreign adoption is available. The orphan process is for children who do not have parents due to abandonment, separation, death or other circumstances; or for children who have parent(s) who are unable to care for them.
Applicants wishing to adopt through the orphan process must be United States citizens and 25 or older if unmarried. They must prove the child is considered by international law to be an “orphan.”
Parent(s) seeking to adopt are required to verify they have adopted the child abroad and seen or observed the child prior to the adoption, or plan to adopt the child upon their arrival to the United States.
In some cases, USCIS or the State Department may elect to conduct an investigation in a foreign adoption. They are generally looking to confirm the child is an orphan, the child does not have any disability or illness not previously disclosed in the orphan petition, and for any extenuating factors making them ineligible for immigration as a foreign adopted child.
Adopting a child from another country can be a beautiful, life-changing experience. To ensure the process goes smoothly and prevent discouraging delays, it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced Philadelphia immigration lawyer to guide you every step of the way.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Help Parents Realize Their Dream of International Adoption
The Philadelphia immigration lawyers at the Center City, Philadelphia law firm of Surin & Griffin, P.C. handle a broad range of immigration services. If you have questions about foreign adoption, we are here for you. Our team of compassionate and experienced immigration attorneys are available to guide you every step of the way. To schedule a consultation, call 215-925-4435 or use our online contact form to get started today. We represent clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania and nationwide.