International adoption is similar to adoption in the United States, but also differs in important ways. Both involve court proceedings in which an adult is recognized as the parent of a person who is not his or her biological child. In international cases, however, the child to be adopted lives in another country and must be adopted according to that country's laws.

Can the U.S. Government Help Me with International Adoption?

The State Department is the government agency that can assist you with international adoptions, but its role is limited.

The State Department Can

  • Provide you with information about a specific country's adoption laws
  • Provide you with information about US visa requirements for bringing a child adopted in another country into the US
  • Find out the status of an international adoption case through the US consulate
  • Prevent another country's courts from discriminating against US citizens

The State Department Cannot

  • Help you find foreign children who are available for adoption
  • Provide you with legal representation in another country's courts
  • Order another country to authorize an adoption

What Authorities Regulate International Adoption?

If you want to adopt a child from another country, you must meet the requirements of:

  • The United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • The laws of the country in which the child lives
  • The laws of the state in which you live

Is an International Adoption Recognized under US Law?

In most cases, adoptions that take place in another country are legally recognized in the United States. In some cases, however, either federal or state law will require you to ¿re-adopt¿ the child. Any state can require you to go through its own adoption procedure. Federal law can also require you to go through the adoption procedure of the state in which you live, under certain circumstances.

Do I Need a Lawyer for an International Adoption?

International adoptions are very complex; perhaps even more so than adoptions in the United States. An experienced family lawyer can advise you as to your duties and rights. An experienced lawyer near you can also help you file any necessary paperwork.