The following information can help you learn more about the international adoption process for prospective parents in Kentucky who are considering adopting a child from another country, and whether international adoption is the right path for you.
While your international adoption process will vary based on the country you adopt from, including their adoption laws and requirements and whether or not they are part of The Hague Adoption Convention, the standard international adoption process in Kentucky usually follows these seven steps:
First, you’ll need to establish which country you’ll adopt from. Some adoptive families have a preference regarding their child’s country of birth while others do not. Both are perfectly fine. But you should be aware of the factors that can influence where you’ll adopt from, such as:
The current political events, travel restrictions and ever-changing international adoption laws that may dictate which countries you can adopt from.
Specific ages and genders of children available for adoption will vary between countries.
The costs of international adoption will vary based on the country and adoption professional you work with.
Prospective adoptive parents must meet a country’s specific eligibility requirements in order to adopt from that country.
Race and cultural heritage will remain an important part of an internationally adopted child’s life, so adoptive parents should be educated and prepared to embrace these new parts of their family.
Each Kentucky international adoption agency completes intercounty adoptions within the countries that they’re authorized to work with, and these will vary between agencies. So if you have a certain country that you hope to adopt from, keep this in mind when searching for an international adoption agency. You’ll need to find an agency that’s licensed to complete an adoption in that country.
You should also work with an international adoption agency in Kentucky that’s Hague-accredited, even if you don’t adopt from a Hague Convention country. Online reviews and speaking with adoptive families who’ve worked with that agency can be helpful in finding an international adoption agency that puts the needs of children as the most important priority.
Kentucky home study providers must be licensed in accordance with Hague Convention home study requirements, even if you’re adopting from a non-Hague country. You adoption agency will likely need to approve of any third-party home study professionals if they’re unable to complete home study services for you.
A typical home study process for international adoption can take as long as three months, so getting started as soon as possible is generally suggested.
Like a domestic adoption home study, an international adoption home study will require:
Criminal background checks in Kentucky and on a federal level
Current health and financial records
Adoption reference letters
Autobiographical statements about your intent to adopt a child from another country
Pre-placement visits in your home, including family interviews and a home inspection
Post-placement visits in your home
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Adoption Department will need to confirm that you’re eligible to adopt by U.S. standards. This happens after the home study is completed, and will involve filing different documents depending on whether you’re adopting from a Hague Convention country or a non-Hague country.
If you’re adopting from a Hague Convention country:
File Form 1-800A with your completed international adoption home study and adoption dossier. If adoption eligibility for a Hague Convention country is confirmed, it’s valid for up to 15 months.
If you’re adopting from a non-Hague Convention country:
File Form 1-600A (if you haven’t been matched with a child yet), or Form 1-600 (if you’ve been matched with a child through your Kentucky international adoption agency) with your completed international adoption home study and adoption dossier. If adoption eligibility for a non-Hague country is confirmed, it’s valid for up to 18 months.
Once the USCIS adoption authorities have confirmed you as eligible to adopt internationally, they’ll send all your form and your adoption dossier to the country’s adoption department, where they’ll also review the documents to ensure that you’re eligible to adopt by their own national adoption standards.
The child you’re adopting internationally will need to be confirmed as eligible for adoption by both countries, as well. So you’ll repeat a process similar to the one you went through to confirm your adoption eligibility as a parent.
If you filed Form 1-800A or 1-600A as an adoptive parent, you’ll now file Form 1-800 (for Hague Convention countries) or 1-600 (for non-Hague countries).
After the USCIS adoption department confirms your child’s eligibility for adoption, you’ll file for his or her visa, which allows them to travel to the United States. To do this, file Form DS-260 to your child’s home country adoption administration.
Throughout the adoption and visa application stages, you can expect to stay within your child’s home country for about one to four weeks. If your child’s home country’s adoption authorities affirm that you meet all their adoption requirements, they’ll grant your child a visa, which allows you to return to Kentucky together:
When both adoptive parents (if applicable) are present and the adoption is finalized in-country, you’ll be given an IH-3 (Hague) or IR-3 (non-Hague) visa.
If one of two adoptive parents is present and/or the adoption has yet to be finalized in Kentucky, you’ll be given an IH-4 (Hague) or IR-4 (non-Hague) visa.
After returning to Kentucky with your child, you’ll either finalize your adoption or complete a recommended re-adoption, depending on the visa you received:
IH-4 or IR-4 visas mean you’ll need to finalize the adoption in Kentucky.
IH-3 or IR-3 visas mean the adoption is legally complete by your child’s birth country’s standards, but a re-adoption within the U.S. is highly recommended by adoption professionals.
While adoption finalization is required, finalizing or re-adopting your child within the U.S. helps protects your child’s rights as a new U.S. citizen and ensures their adoption is recognized by both countries. Failing to finalize or re-adopt your child in Kentucky may bring about legal frustrations regarding citizenship or parenthood later.
Once finalization or re-adoption has taken place, the Kentucky international adoption process is complete.
The following international adoption agencies in Kentucky may be able to connect you to the resources you’ll need to complete an international adoption in Kentucky:
For free adoption information about domestic adoption, call 1-800-ADOPTION.
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