What Are the U.S. Rules and Procedures for International Adoption?

In an international adoption, the new parents must satisfy the adoption requirement of both the foreign country and the parents' home state in the United States. Parents also must obtain an immigrant visa for the child from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services once certain adoption requirements have been satisfied. These requirements include:

  • Proof that the adoptive parents are married, or, if single, at least 25 years old
  • Filing of required forms:
    • Orphan Petition (Form I-600) as proof that the child's parents have died, disappeared, or that the one remaining parent has consented to the child's adoption and immigration to the United States
    • Favorable home study report

What Countries Can I Adopt a Child From?

American parents have adopted children from more than 50 countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Africa. American parents are ineligible to adopt children from Western Europe, Australia, or Canada. As of 2002, most of the foreign children adopted in the United States came from China, Russia, Guatemala, South Korea and the Ukraine.

What are the International Rules and Procedures for a Foreign Adoption?

The requirements for an international adoption vary widely from country to country:

  • China
    • At least one parent must travel to China for approximately two weeks to sign appropriate documents and to finalize the adoption process.
    • Post-placement reports and supervision are required for one year following the adoption.
    • China accepts adoption applications from married couples and single women, but not homosexual families.
  • Russia
    • The adoptive parents must make two trips to Russia as part of the adoption process. The first trip requires approximately one week of travel; the second trip requires 2-3 weeks of travel.
    • Post placement reports are required for three years following the adoption.
    • Russia accepts applications from married couples and single parents.
  • Guatemala
    • Adoptive parents are not required to travel to Guatemala as part of the adoption process. However, if the parents choose to travel to Guatemala, they can expect to stay approximately 2 weeks.
    • Before a Guatemalan child is approved for adoption, a DNA test must be completed by a U.S.-authorized facility to prove that the relinquishing mother is indeed the birthmother of the child.
    • Post-placement supervision and reports are required for six months following the adoption.
    • Guatemala accepts applications from married couples and single parents.
  • Ukraine
    • All adoptive parents must travel at least once to the Ukraine as part of the adoption process; in most cases the parents must make two trips, each lasting between 2-6 weeks.
    • Annual post-placement reports are required until the child reaches adulthood.
    • The Ukrainian child is required to maintain his Ukrainian citizenship until adulthood, at which time he can decide whether to keep the dual citizenship.
    • Ukraine accepts applications from married couples and single parents.
  • South Korea
    • Adoptive parents are not required to travel to South Korea as part of the adoption process.
    • Adoption may not be finalized until one year after placement; the adoption will be finalized in the adoptive parents¿ country of residence.
    • Post-placement reports are required during the first year of placement.
    • South Korea accepts applications from married couples only.

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 also can help you file any necessary paperwork.