Adoptions are divided into two categories: domestic and foreign. Both types of adoption involve the transfer of parental rights from the child’s birth parents to the adoptive parents.

A foreign adoption, also known as an intercountry adoption, is one where you adopt a child from overseas. Foreign adoptions can be complex because the child being adopted must also go through the immigration process.

What Agencies Will I Have to Work with to Adopt a Foreign Born Child?

Foreign adoptions can be complicated because the adoption involves many agencies and requirements. To adopt a child born overseas you will have to follow guidelines set by:

What Do I Need to Do to Adopt a Foreign Child?

The procedure to adopt a foreign born child can take one to fours years and varies based on the child’s country of origin. Typically, foreign adoption involves:

  • Filing advance paperwork with the USCIS attesting to your parental ability and stable home environment
  • Locating an orphan abroad
  • Adopting the child following the laws of the child's home country
  • Filing an Orphan Petition to classify the child as your relative to bring the child to the United States

Hague Adoption vs. Non-Hague Adoption

The level of difficulty for the adoption process varies and depends on if the adoption is categorized as a Hague or Non-Hague adoption.

  • Hague: The United States signed a treaty on inter-country adoptions that applies to 90 countries
  • Non-Hague: These countries are not apart of the treaty and have different guidelines and filing procedures compared to Hague adoptions

The procedures for the adoption will be different and depends on whether the child’s country is a part of the Hague treaty or not.

Can My Adopted Child Automatically Gain U.S. Citizenship?

Generally, the United States will issue a permanent resident visa after the Orphan Petition is approved. The child will not have to be placed on a waiting list.

Note that visas types do vary depending on whether the adoption is categorized as Hague or Non-Hague.

It is possible that your adopted child can automatically get U.S. citizenship upon entry to the U.S. with a visa, if:

  • At least one parent of the adopted child is a U.S. citizen
  • The adopted child is under 18
  • The adoption is final

Will the Overseas Adoption Be Valid in the U.S?

The adoption of a child in a foreign court is typically legal in the Untied States. But states are not required to recognize the adoption, so you may want to re-adopt the child in a state court and get a state birth certificate.

Should I Get a Lawyer If I Want to Adopt a Foreign Born Child?

Foreign adoptions involve complex procedures and interactions with U.S. and foreign agencies. A qualified immigration attorney can help you with everything you need to adopt a foreign child.