International Adoption

International Adoption

International Adoption is the process in which you adopt a child from a country other than your own. Making the decision to proceed with an inter-country adoption, also known as foreign adoption, is a big step for providing opportunities for children in need of a home and parents who want to grow a family. By permanent legal adoption, the adopted child will move to your country of residence to live with the adopted parent(s). The U.S. Department of State prioritizes the adoption of foreign children while considering the child’s best interest and a thriving living situation for them.

Gaining US Citizenship for Adopted Children

It is very important that children adopted from other countries become United States citizens. Delaying or neglecting to obtain your adopted child’s citizenship can create difficulty for them when applying for or obtaining college scholarships, working legally, and partaking in other activities. Your international adoption lawyer will assist you in the task of navigating the three government entities involved with adoption of foreign child.

International adoption laws fall under federal international adoption law, state laws, and the international adoption laws of the child’s birth country. All three establishments have their own hurdles which your international adoption lawyer can walk you through.

Applying for an Immigrant Visa for Adopted Children

Adopted children entering the United States to live permanently will need an immigrant visa. Immigrant visas are typically issued at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the child or children’s country of origin. When beginning the process of your adopted child coming into the United States, you should contact an experienced attorney.

The Basic Process of Immigration Adoption

Your process of inter-country adoption begins with the Department of State. They work with adoptive authorities across the world. You will also most likely work with an adoption agency accredited by the U.S. Department of State. This is just one step in the basic process. You must also make sure your child is eligible to enter the United States through immigration and become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). The USCIS handles all international adoption law for the adoption of a foreign child. An immigration attorney, specifically an international adoption lawyer, will help you through the entire process of inter-country adoption. We advise consulting your immigration attorney at the very start to make sure every step of working with the Department of State and USCIS is fulfilled.

There are three basic processes of gaining lawful permanent residence (LPR) for your adopted child:

  • Hague Adoptions
  • Orphan Adoptions
  • Immigrating Other Adoptive Children

Each process of adoption comes with its own paperwork, eligibility requirements, and differences. Your international adoption lawyer knows the variations between the processes and will be able to help you in whichever process you choose to take.


The first step of inter-country adoption is to look at the requirements of the potential parents. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines the eligibility of the parents to adopt a child from outside the United States. The Hague Process and Orphan Process each have their own sets of requirements to determine the eligibility of the future parents. However, both processes entail personal interviews and home studies before any form of adoption takes place, which include:

  • At least one in-person interview
  • At least one home visit
  • At least one interview with adult members of the household. The Hague adoption requires all adult members of the household to be interviewed, whereas the orphan adoption requires any member of the household to be interviewed
  • An assessment of the physical, mental, and emotional health and behavior of the prospective parents
  • Screening of abuse history
  • Details of the living accommodations

Again, though the pre-adoption process has similarities no matter the route to take to adoption of a foreign child, there are some key differences. Speak with your international adoption lawyer to make sure you are prepared for your pre-adoption process.

Hague Adoption Process

The Hague Process, which was introduced to the United States in 2008, is an international adoption process which provides safety measures to the child or children, birth parents, and adoptive parents. To complete the Hague adoption process, your immigration adoption attorney will guide you to follow these steps:

  1. Choose an accredited Adoption Service Provider (ASP). It is also wise to work with an attorney. ASPs cannot provide legal advice or services throughout the process
  2. Obtain a home study from authorized person with Hague adoption
  3. Apply to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before placement for approval of inter-country adoption
  4. Once application is approved by USCIS, work with ASP and legal team to put adoption plan into place
  5. File petition for the child you are adopting for them to be eligible for immigration
  6. Once immigration is accepted, adopt child and obtain immigrant visa
  7. Bring the child home to the United States for admission with the visa

The visa types for the Hague Process include:

  • IH-3 Visa for children with full and final adoptions
  • IH-4 Visa issued when the child is entering the united states from their birth country to be adopted

Orphan Adoption Process

The orphan process of adoption and immigration is a bit different than the Hague process. By U.S. immigration law, an orphan is a child born in a foreign country who either does not have parents due to death or abandonment or has a sole surviving parent who is unable to care for them. If a birth parent is unable to care for their child, they must release the child for immigration and adoption in writing.

In order to adopt an orphan child from a foreign country, there must be a petition filed before the child turns 16 years old, and the child must be defined an orphan by the U.S. immigration law. An investigation may be done to confirm the following:

  • Verification of valid adoption or grant of custody
  • Child does not have illness or disability that is not listed and described in the petition
  • Determine if child has special needs that were not addressed in home study
  • Determine if there are any factors that the child doesn’t qualify for immigration as adopted child

To file a petition, the USCIS will review how suitable you are as an adoptive parent while also taking the status of the child into consideration. To classify your adopted child/orphan an immediate relative, file Form I-600.

Your child will also be granted the IR-3 visa if the adoption is completed abroad or the IR-4 visa for a child coming to the U.S. to be adopted.

Immigrating Other Adoptive Children

There is a third option of international adoption law rooted in the family-based petition process. They key differences between this avenue of intercountry adoption and the previous two are as follows:

  • Lawful permanent residents and U.S. Citizens can use this method; only U.S. citizens can use the Hague and orphan processes.
  • Hague countries may not allow the use of family-based petition process
  • A 2-year legal custody and joint residence is required for the family-based petition. Evidence of such must be presented to finalize the adoption

According to international adoption laws, taking the immigration other adoptive children’s direction requires you submit Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

Immigration Adoption Age

In order for this process to be considered, the child must be adopted before they turn 16 years old. It is possible to adopt a child above the age of 16 and under the age of 21. If this is the case for you, speak with your immigration adoption attorney about immigration proceedings.

What to Expect After an Adoption

Depending on the terms or conditions of your adoption, you may be required to give a report on the progress and welfare of your adopted child/children. Post-adoption reports cover child development and adjustment to the new country and family.

Post-placement reporting is a form of adoption where the adoption is only approved after months of success in the home where the child has been placed. For the adoption to be deemed successful, the child must have a good report of child to parent bonding as well as child adjustment to new culture and environment.

It is extremely important that adoptive parents understand the requirements of post-adoption reporting. The parent(s) may be solely responsible for providing and submitting the reports, while in other instances, the ASP is responsible.

Post-Adoption Services

There are several services that may be available to your family post-adoption. Services can include support groups, social activities, camps, medical resources including therapy, as well as cultural activities.

International Adoption Attorney Near Me

The Chicago immigration legal team at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. is here to answer any questions you have about Immigrant Visas and gaining US citizenship for adopted children. Contact an international adoption attorney of our team today at 312.444.1940.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!