While a “domestic adoption” is the adoption of a child within a nation’s borders, an “international adoption” (sometimes referred to as an intercountry adoption) is the adoption of a child across national borders.
The information below will help you learn more about the international adoption process for prospective adoptive parents in Massachusetts who are thinking about adopting a child from another country.
A Massachusetts international adoption process will vary depending on which country you adopt from. Each country’s adoption laws, requirements, costs and their relationship with The Hague Adoption Convention will all influence your individual international adoption process in Massachusetts.
However, most international adoptions in Massachusetts follow these basic steps:
If you intend to adopt a child from another country in Massachusetts, you’ll of course need to establish which country you’ll be adopting from. Some adoptive families have a preference about their child’s home country, while others have no preference. Either way, understanding what influences the countries you may be able to adopt a child from is important. Those influencing factors include:
The adoptive parent requirements you must meet, which will vary from one country to the next.
The varying costs of international adoption, which are influenced by country and adoption professionals.
International adoption laws, politics and travel restrictions may determine which countries you’ll be able to adopt from at a given point in time.
The race and cultural heritage of an internationally adopted child, which remains an important part of their identity, so adoptive families should be educated about adopting transracially and internationally.
International adoption agencies in Massachusetts are licensed to complete adoptions within different countries. So if you are determined to adopt a child from a certain country, you should seek out an international adoption agency in Massachusetts that is licensed to complete an intercountry adoption in that country.
Always work with a Massachusetts international adoption agency that is Hague-accredited, regardless of whether or not you adopt from a Hague Convention country. Online reviews can also be helpful in locating an international adoption agency in MA that prioritizes the needs of children above everything else.
Your Massachusetts home study provider will need to be licensed in accordance with The Hague Convention standards, even if you don’t adopt from a Hague country. Your adoption agency needs to approve of any third-party home study professional that you work with before you begin your home study.
An international adoption home study process can take several months, so beginning sooner is generally recommended.
A MA international home study has many of the same requirements as a domestic adoption home study, including:
Current health and financial records
Criminal background checks and abuse clearances
Adoption references letters from several personal references
In-home visits and family interviews conducted both before and after placement
Autobiographical statements about why you want to adopt a child from another country
All prospective parents will first need to be confirmed as eligible to adopt via the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Adoption Department once they’ve completed the home study process. You’ll need to file the corresponding documents in order to file for your intercountry adoption eligibility:
For Hague Convention countries:
Submit your completed international adoption home study, adoption dossier, and Form 1-800 A. Confirmed adoption eligibility from a Hague Convention country is valid for up to 15 months.
For non-Hague Convention countries:
Submit your completed international adoption home study, adoption dossier, and Form 1-600 if you’ve already been matched with a child through your Massachusetts international adoption agency, or Form 1-600A if you haven’t been matched yet. Confirmed adoption eligibility from a non-Hague Convention country is valid for up to 18 months.
When the USCIS adoption department has confirmed your eligibility to adopt internationally, they’ll send your forms and adoption dossier to your child’s birth country, where that country’s adoption department will also need to confirm that you are eligible to adopt by their country’s standards.
Just like you filed to confirm your own ability to adopt a child from another country, you’ll need to file with both countries to confirm that your child is eligible to be adopted.
So if you filed Form 1-800A or 1-600A for your own adoption eligibility confirmation, you’ll now file Form 1-800 (Hague countries) or 1-600 (non-Hague countries) to confirm your child’s adoption eligibility.
The USCIS adoption authorities will need to confirm your child’s eligibility to be adopted, and then you’ll be able to file for his or her travel visa so that they can return to the United States with you. To do this, you’ll file Form DS-260 with your child’s country’s adoption department.
Because the visa and adoption process can be slow while both countries communicate about your adoption, you should anticipate staying in your child’s home country for one to four weeks. Your child will receive one of the following visas:
If both adoptive parents (if applicable) are there for the adoption finalization in your child’s country, you’ll receive an IH-3 (Hague) or IR-3 (non-Hague) travel visa.
If only one out of two adoptive parents is there and/or the adoption is yet to be finalized in Massachusetts, you’ll receive an IH-4 (Hague) or IR-4 (non-Hague) travel visa.
Once you’ve received your child’s travel visa, you and your child can return home to Massachusetts and continue to the last step of the international adoption process.
If you received an IH-4 or IR-4 visa, then an adoption finalization is legally required to complete your adoption when you return to Massachusetts. However, if you received an IH-3 or IR-3 visa, a re-adoption within the U.S. is highly recommended to safeguard your child’s status as a new American citizen as well as their adoption status in both countries, even though your adoption has been finalized according to your child’s home country’s standards.
If you fail to finalize your adoption or re-adopt your child in Massachusetts, you may be at risk for legal complications regarding citizenship or parenthood in the future.
Once your finalization or re-adoption is complete, your child’s Massachusetts international adoption process is also completed.
These international adoption agencies in Massachusetts can help you begin your MA international adoption, if you feel that adopting a child from another country is the right fit for your family:
For free adoption information about domestic adoption, call 1-800-ADOPTION.
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