International adoption, also known as “intercountry adoption,” is the process of adopting a child from one country and bringing them to the United States. Here is what you need to know about the international adoption process in Arizona, along with the resources needed to finalize your intercountry adoption.
Your international adoption process will vary depending on the country you are adopting from. Countries that are part of The Hague Adoption Convention will have different policies than countries that aren’t. In addition, the laws of the country you adopt from will affect your international adoption process. Regardless of the country you choose, these major steps will remain the same in your Arizona international adoption process:
Some families have a strong preference about which country their child is born in, and others do not. Be sure to do research before choosing which country to adopt from, as changes in adoption laws, the current political climate, or travel restrictions will influence which country you’ll likely be able to adopt from at any given time.
Other factors that may influence which country you choose to adopt from can include:
The types of adoption opportunities you’re interested in. The ages and genders of children available for adoption may vary from one country to the next.
Your budget. The international adoption cost will vary depending on the country and adoption professional you adopt from.
The qualifications to adopt. Countries have individual eligibility requirements that must be met before potential adoptive parents are able to adopt from that country.
The country’s culture. Adoptive parents need to be prepared to embrace the culture and race that comes with adopting a child from another country.
Different international adoption agencies in Arizona are authorized to complete adoptions within different countries. If you hope to adopt from a specific country, be sure to find an agency that is licensed to complete adoptions within that country.
It is also highly recommended that you choose an international adoption agency that is Hague-accredited through the Universal Accreditation Act of 2012.
Your adoption professional should also assist with:
communication with the country where you adopt
supporting, guiding and educating your family throughout the process
performing or coordinating your home study and post-placement assessments
finding a child for a potential match
handling the termination of parental rights, if necessary.
When doing your research, be sure to check reviews and ratings of international adoption agencies in Arizona. You want to ensure you are working with professionals that have a reputation for taking care of their clients and putting the needs of the children first.
State and federal criminal background checks for all adult members of the household
Recent health records
Recent financial records
Complete social study
Pre-placement in-home visits including an interview and home inspection
Post-placement in-home visits to verify adjustment
Before you can officially adopt, The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Adoption Department needs to verify you are eligible to adopt.
If you are adopting through a Hague Convention country:
You will need to file Form 1-800A, as well as your documentation, information and completed international adoption home study. You will be eligible to adopt from a Hague Convention country for 15 months.
If you are adopting through a non-Hague Convention country:
You will need to file Form 1-600A if you have not yet matched with a child to adopt. If your Arizona international adoption agency has matched you with a child, you can file Form 1-600 along with all the necessary documents and your completed international adoption home study.
You will be able to adopt from a non-Hague Convention country for up to 18 months before you need to renew your eligibility status.
Once you have been approved by USCIS, your international adoption agency will be able to send your form and adoption dossier to the country where you’d like to adopt. The country will review your information to confirm you are eligible to adopt according to their adoption laws.
After you have been matched with a child for adoption, you will file either Form I-800 or I-600, this time to ensure your child is eligible to immigrate to the United States.
When the USCIS confirms your child is eligible for adoption, you will apply for a U.S. visa for your child. Form DS-260 is the form you’ll file to the child’s home country to review and approve.
When you travel to your child’s home country for the adoption, plan to stay one to four weeks. During this time, you will get to know your child, complete your visa application and begin the legal work of the Arizona international adoption process. You will also have an interview with the country’s adoption authorities, who will verify you have met their requirements for adoption.
Once you have had the exit interview, you will receive a visa so you can return home with your child:
If both adoptive parents (if applicable) are present and the adoption is finalized in-country, you’ll be granted an IH-3 (Hague countries) or IR-3 (non-Hague countries) visa.
If only one of the two adoptive parents are present, and/or the international adoption needs to be finalized in Arizona, you will be granted an IH-4 (Hague) or IR-4 (non-Hague) visa.
Upon returning to Arizona, you will need to apply for your child’s amended birth certificate and Social Security card. Even then, the Arizona international adoption is not quite complete.
To complete the international adoption process in Arizona, you will need to complete a finalization or a re-adoption.
If you have a IH-4 or IR-4 visa for your child, you will need to submit either of the following to finalize the adoption:
an original Arizona certificate of adoption
a certified court order of adoption issued by an Arizona court and proof of the date and place of the adopted child’s birth
a state-issued court order recognizing the adoption, if the child was not adopted in Arizona
If your child received a IH-3 or IR-3 visa, the adoption is legally complete and the parents can receive a certificate of foreign birth. Re-adoption in the United States is highly recommended by adoption officials.
This final step ensures that your child’s adoption is legal in both countries, and they will receive full rights as a U.S. citizen. Failure to finalize the adoption or re-adopt an internationally adopted child could lead to questions about their citizenship and parenthood later on.
After re-adoption or finalization in Arizona, the international adoption process is complete.
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