International adoption, which is also sometimes referred to as intercountry adoption or foreign adoption, is the adoption of a child across national borders. The following information will give you a better understanding of the international adoption process for adoptive parents in Pennsylvania, so you can decide if you want to pursue an international adoption.
While your international adoption process will vary based on the country you adopt from and whether or not that country is part of The Hague Adoption Convention, these seven steps will be the same for most people completing the international adoption process in PA:
Travel restrictions, political trends and ever-changing national adoption laws will influence which countries you may be able to adopt from at any given moment. Personal preference may also be a factor for you. Researching current international adoption trends and restrictions will be your first step when deciding which country to adopt from, as international adoption laws often change.
Other factors you may consider when choosing a country to adopt through might include:
The genders and ages of children available for adoption within a certain country, as they vary from one country to the next.
The requirements that prospective adoptive parents need to meet in order to adopt from a country, which also vary between countries.
The varying costs to adopt from a particular country and a particular adoption professional.
The race and cultural heritage of an internationally adopted child, which will remain a part of their life and your family forever.
A PA international adoption agency is authorized to conduct adoptions within certain countries. Not all agencies will be authorized to complete an intercountry adoption within the country you may want to adopt from, so you may keep this in mind when choosing international adoption agencies in PA.
Look for Pennsylvania international adoption agencies that are Hague-accredited (even if you don’t intend to adopt from a country that’s part of the Hague Convention) and that are authorized to complete adoptions within the country you hope to adopt from.
Check online reviews and ratings to ensure that your agency puts the needs of children first and foremost.
All Pennsylvania home study professionals for an international adoption must be licensed in accordance with the Hague Convention, even if you don’t plan on adopting from country associated with the Hague Convention. You should also check with your adoption agency if you work with a third-party home study professional, as they’ll likely need to approve the professional first.
Remember that the international adoption home study process can take up to three months. Starting as soon as possible is a good idea.
In most aspects, the international adoption home study is identical to the domestic adoption home study process and will have very similar requirements.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Adoption Department will need to confirm that you’re eligible for adopting a child from another country. This will require filing the proper forms based on whether or not you’re adopting from a Hague country.
For parents adopting from Hague Convention countries:
File Form 1-800A with your completed international adoption home study and your adoption dossier.
For parents adopting from non-Hague Convention countries:
If you haven’t matched with a child, file Form 1-600A. If you’ve been matched with a child through your PA international adoption agency, file Form 1-600 with your completed international adoption home study and adoption dossier.
Once USCIS adoption authorities have confirmed your eligibility for adopting internationally, it’ll remain valid for up to 15 months (Hague Convention countries) or 18 months (non-Hague countries). The country you intend to adopt from will review your information and will ensure that you’ve met their requirements for adoption eligibility, as well.
Once you receive a referral for an international adoption opportunity, you’ll repeat the adoption eligibility process on behalf of the child you intend to adopt.
You’ll either file Form 1-800 if you’re adopting with a Hague Convention country or Form 1-600 if you’re adopting with a non-Hague country.
After you receive USCIS confirmation for your child’s adoption eligibility, you’ll be able to file for your child’s U.S. visa. This visa allows them to immigrate to the United States with you. For this, you’ll file Form DS-260.
The adoption and visa application process for international adoption is lengthy because it requires communication between two countries’ adoption departments. Expect to stay in your child’s home country from about one to four weeks during this time.
If you meet all the necessary stages of approval from both governments, your child will be given a visa so that you can return to PA together. The visa you’re granted depends on the situation:
If both adoptive parents (when applicable) are present for the adoptions completion in-country, you’ll receive an IH-3 (Hague) or IR-3 (non-Hague) visa.
If only one out of two adoptive parents are present and/or the adoption is yet to be finalized in Pennsylvania, you’ll receive an IH-4 (Hague) or IR-4 (non-Hague) visa.
Once you receive your child’s visa, you’ll be able to travel home.
If you were given an IH-4 or IR-4 visa, you’ll need to finalize the adoption in Pennsylvania.
If you were given an IH-3 or IR-3 visa, a re-adoption within the U.S. is highly recommended by adoption experts, even though the adoption is legally complete by your child’s home country’s standards.
Although a finalization is legally required, a re-adoption within the U.S. is recommended to ensure that your child’s adoption is legally recognized by both countries’ administrations. Failing to complete a re-adoption in Pennsylvania may bring about legal complications with citizenship or parenthood. Re-adoption is an extra safety measure against these potential frightening complications.
Once you’ve finalized the adoption or completed a re-adoption in Pennsylvania, you’ll be able to file for your child’s amended birth certificate and U.S. Social Security card. With that, the PA international adoption process is complete!
The following international adoption agencies in PA can help you learn how to adopt a child from another country:
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