International Adoption

International Adoption


The number of americans who are trying to adopt children has markedly increased. With the reduction of children in the United States, more and more americans adopt children from other countries. This year, thousands of children came to the United States from other countries, either as candidates for adoption or because they were adopted abroad by U.S. citizens.

International adoptions are essentially a legal private matter between an individual (or couple) who wishes to adopt, and a foreign court that operates under the laws and regulations of that country. The United States authorities cannot intervene on behalf of prospective parents in front of the courts of the country where the adoption took place. However, the Department of State provides extensive information on the processes of adoption in different countries, and on the legal requirements to bring the a child adopted abroad to the  United States.

Adoption requirements

To complete an international adoption and bring a child to the United States, the prospective adoptive parents must comply with the requirements established by the Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of homeland Security (USCIS); the country in which you reside; and sometimes, of the State in which, the adoptive parents reside. Although the procedures and documentation required can seem repetitive, you should keep multiple copies of the same document in case you need to comply with the requirements of USCIS, the foreign country, or of their State of residence. The process is designed to protect the child, the adoptive parents of the child and the biological parents.

Applicable laws

The Act of Nationality and Immigration of the U.S. (INA) is the immigration law regarding the issuance of visas to foreigners, including children adopted abroad or coming to the country in search of adoption. The forecasts regulations concerning the adopted minors are found in the INA, Section 101(b)(1)(E). This section provides immigrant classification to “an adopted minor of 16 years, which has been under the legal custody and who also has resided with the parent(s) foster for at least two years”. This is called “the forecast of the two years”, and applies to individuals who are temporarily residing abroad and wish to adopt a child according to the laws of the foreign State where they reside. The majority of the adoptive parents, however, do not have the possibility of spending two years abroad living with the child; therefore, they seek benefits under other provision of the INA: Section 101(b)(1)(F), which grants immigrant classification to orphans who were or will be adopted by a U.S. citizen. Under this section of the law, both the child and adoptive parent(s) must meet a number of requirements established by the INA and its regulations; however, the requirement of two years of residence is removed. Only after having demonstrated that both the parent and the child qualify, you will be issued a visa for the child to travel to the United States.

What can the State Department do for me?

  • Provide information about international adoption in countries around the world
  • Provide general information on the requirements to obtain a visa for international adoption
  • Investigate, through the office of the american consulate in the foreign country, the status of a specific case of adoption, and clarify documents and other requirements.
  • Ensure that US citizens are not discriminated against the authorities or foreign courts, according to the local adoption laws.

What cannot the State Department do:

  • Directly participate in the process of adoption in a foreign country
  • Act as an attorney or a representative of the adoptive parents in court
  • Order that an adoption takes place or is issued a visa.

Read the full text of the U.S. Department of State in the Pamphlet of International Adoption.


The benefits and downside of domestic and international adoption.

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