Domestic adoption refers to the adoption of a child within the country’s borders. An international adoption (also sometimes called intercountry adoption) is the adoption of a child from outside of the country’s borders.
The following information will teach you more about the international adoption process if you’re a prospective adoptive parent in South Carolina who is considering adopting a child from another country.
Your South Carolina international adoption process may vary based on the country you ultimately adopt from, as that country’s adoption laws, requirements and whether or not they’re part of The Hague Adoption Convention will all vary. But for most, the international adoption process in South Carolina includes these seven steps:
The first thing you’ll need to do if you intend to adopt a child from another country in South Carolina is to decide which country that will be. You may have a preference about your child’s home country, or you may not. Regardless, you should understand the factors that may affect where you’ll adopt a child from, such as:
The adoptive parent requirements you’ll need to meet, which vary between individual countries.
The costs of international adoption, which vary between countries and adoption professionals.
Specific ages and genders of children available for adoption will vary across individual countries.
International adoption laws, international politics, travel bans and more may all influence which countries you’ll be able to adopt from.
An internationally adopted child’s race and cultural heritage will always be an important part of who they are, so adoptive families should educate themselves about adopting transracially and internationally to embrace their child’s heritage.
International adoption agencies in South Carolina are licensed to complete adoptions within certain countries, and these authorizations will vary from one agency to the next. This is especially important if you have your heart set on adopting a child from a specific country, because not every international adoption agency in South Carolina will be able to complete an intercountry adoption there.
Remember to work with a South Carolina international adoption agency that is Hague-accredited, even if you don’t plan on adopting from a Hague Convention country. You can also turn to online reviews to help you find an international adoption agency in SC that puts the needs of children above all else.
Even if you’re not adopting from a Hague country, your South Carolina home study provider will need to be licensed by Hague Convention standards. When working with any third-party home study professional, you should have your adoption agency confirm that they’ll work with that provider prior to beginning your home study.
The international adoption home study process can take three months to complete, so it’s generally recommended to begin the process as soon as you can.
Like a standard domestic adoption home study, a SC international home study will require:
Background and abuse record checks
Current health and financial documents
Adoption reference letters from personal references
Individual autobiographical statements discussing why you wish to adopt a child from another country
Pre- and post-placement home study visits and family interviews
Hopeful parents must be confirmed as eligible to adopt by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Adoption Department after completing the home study. This involves filing the appropriate documents:
When you’re adopting from a Hague Convention country:
File Form 1-800A with your completed international adoption home study and adoption dossier. When your adoption eligibility for a Hague Convention country has been confirmed, it remains valid for up to 15 months.
When you’re adopting from a non-Hague Convention country:
File Form 1-600A if you haven’t been matched with a child. File Form 1-600 if your South Carolina international adoption agency has matched with you a child already. Include that form with your completed international adoption home study and adoption dossier. When your adoption eligibility for a non-Hague Convention country has been confirmed, it remains valid for up to 18 months.
When your eligibility to adopt internationally has been confirmed by the USCIS adoption department, they’ll mail your forms and adoption dossier to the child’s home country, where their adoption authorities will review the documents to confirm you as eligible to adopt according to their country’s own standards.
Similarly to confirming your ability to adopt a child from another country, your child will need to be confirmed as eligible to be adopted by both countries. So you’ll repeat the process with a slightly different goal.
If you filed Form 1-800A or 1-600A previously, you’ll file Form 1-800 (for Hague Convention countries) or 1-600 (for non-Hague countries) on behalf of your child.
After the USCIS adoption authorities have confirmed your child’s eligibility to be adopted, you can file for his or her travel visa. This visa is what allows them to return to the U.S. with you. For this, you’ll file Form DS-260 with your child’s home country’s adoption authorities.
The visa application and adoption process take a while, so expect to remain in your child’s home country for about one to four weeks. The visa your child will be granted will vary:
If both adoptive parents (when applicable) are present for the adoption’s finalization in-country, you’ll be given an IH-3 (Hague) or IR-3 (non-Hague) travel visa.
If only one out of two adoptive parents is present and/or the adoption is going to be finalized in South Carolina, you’ll be given an IH-4 (Hague) or IR-4 (non-Hague) travel visa.
With your travel visas, you’ll be able to return home with your child to South Carolina and move on to the final step of the international adoption process.
Receiving an IH-4 or IR-4 visa means that an adoption finalization is still legally needed to complete your child’s adoption. But when you receive an IH-3 or IR-3 visa, a re-adoption on U.S. soil is still highly recommended in order to protect your child’s American citizenship and adoption status in both countries, even though you’ve already finalized the adoption by your child’s home country’s standards.
Failure to finalize an adoption or re-adopt your child in South Carolina may expose you to legal complications with citizenship or parenthood at any point in the future.
After you’ve completed finalization or re-adoption, the South Carolina international adoption process is finished.
The following international adoption agencies in South Carolina and additional resources can help you get started with your SC international adoption:
For free adoption information about domestic adoption, call 1-800-ADOPTION.
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