This will determine each step of the process from this point forward, so it’s important that you choose a country before you do anything else. You’ll want to consider your preferences in terms of age or gender of the child you hope to adopt, the country’s eligibility criteria, the culture of the country, and the costs to adopt from that particular location.
The prices of international adoptions vary, typically because of the travel costs involved. For example, this Adoption Fee Calculator helps you see the cost differences with one particular agency.
Different agencies specialize in completing different international adoptions, so already knowing which country or countries to adopt from is essential. The professional who helps you adopt abroad should be Hague-accredited, which means that they comply with Hague Convention requirements in order to make sure international adoptions are safe and ethical. Whether or not the country you choose from is a part of the Hague Convention is irrelevant; all adoption professionals are required to comply with Hague requirements per the Universal Accreditation Act of 2012.
In addition to being Hague-accredited, your adoption professional should communicate with the country you wish to adopt from, oversee your home study, and find a match with a child, among other services.
This process should look similar to the one for a domestic adoption home study. Keep in mind that the country you adopt from may have additional requirements, which your adoption professional should prepare you for.
Before you adopt internationally in Arkansas, you’ll need to be declared eligible to adopt by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The form you’ll be required to fill out to apply will depend on whether or not the country you’re adopting from is a Hague Country. If it is, you’ll fill out Form I-800A. If not, you’ll fill out the Form I-600A or Form I-600, depending on whether or not you’ve already identified a child to adopt.
Once you’ve determined eligible to adopt overseas by the United States, you’ll wait for an adoption opportunity. The country you’re adopting from will contact your adoption professional with a referral, which will typically include the child’s name, picture, birthday, medical and social information and why he or she has been matched with you. In some cases, you’ll travel to the country before receiving a referral. In other cases, you’ll travel after accepting the referral.
Depending on which form you filled out for your own eligibility to adopt, you’ll fill out Form I-800 or I-600 to make sure your child is deemed adoptable by the USCIS.
Your stay in your child’s home country may last anywhere from one to four weeks, during which time you’ll complete your visa application. You’ll also complete an interview with the international country’s adoption authorities to ensure that you meet all of their international adoption requirements. When this is over, you’ll receive one of the following immigration visas for your child:
The IH-3 (for Hague countries) or IR-3 (for non-Hague countries) visa. This is the visa you’ll receive if both adoptive parents were present to complete the adoption in the foreign country.
The IH-4 (for Hague countries) or IR-4 (for non-Hague countries) visa. This is the visa you’ll receive if only one of two parents met the child or if the adoption wasn’t completed in the foreign country. You’ll need to finalize your child’s adoption in the United States if this is the visa you receive.
The international adoption process still has one more step: re-adoption. Regardless of which visa your child received, it’s highly recommended that re-adoption is completed. This makes sure your adoption is legally recognized in Arkansas. In doing so, you ensure that your child has all the rights and privileges of a United States citizen. Not re-adopting (or finalizing your child’s adoption in Arkansas) can lead to legal issues in the future.
To get started on your international adoption, you’ll need to scout out some international adoption agencies in Arkansas. Some options for Arkansas residents are:
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