Every adoption is a journey — and for some adoptive families, that journey takes them across the globe.
While American Adoptions only completes domestic infant adoptions within the U.S., international adoption can be another wonderful family-building option for hopeful parents in Tennessee. Here, learn more about how to complete an international adoption in Tennessee so you can decide whether this process is right for your family.
Before pursuing an overseas adoption in Tennessee, it’s important to be aware of the current availability and potential challenges of this family-building option.
The number of international adoptions in Tennessee and throughout the United States has declined in recent years. In fact, while this was once a very popular option for hopeful parents, international adoption statistics show a 76 percent drop since 2004.
This decrease is due in part to changes in international adoption policies. Many countries that were once popular adoption destinations, like Russia and Ethiopia, have implemented suspensions of adoptions by U.S. parents. Thus, families in Tennessee have fewer countries to adopt from today than they did a decade ago.
However, this information is not meant to discourage you from adopting internationally in TN. Instead, it is simply meant to make you aware of the possible risks and challenges associated with this type of adoption. Parents interested in adopting a child from another country are encouraged to do careful research about different countries’ estimated wait times, the stability of their adoption processes and more.
If you decide that international adoption is the right path for your family, congratulations! You have taken the first step in your adoption journey. The next step is learning exactly how to adopt a child from another country as a Tennessee resident.
Your individual adoption process will vary based on a number of factors, including the country you adopt from and the professional you work with. In general, though, here’s how to adopt a child internationally in Tennessee:
Much of your adoption process will depend on the country you choose to adopt from, so your first step should be to determine which country that will be. As you research different countries to adopt from in TN, you’ll want to consider the following:
The current political climate, international adoption policies and any travel restrictions
The types of children available for adoption in that country (age, culture, etc.)
The country’s eligibility requirements for adoptive parents
Costs to adopt from that country
If you need help determining the best country for your family to adopt from, contact an international adoption attorney or agency in Tennessee.
Once you know which country you’d like to adopt from, you can choose a Tennessee international adoption agency to help you with the process. Make sure your adoption professional is Hague-accredited and that it has a program in the country you wish to adopt from.
Your TN international adoption professional will guide you through the entire process and search for the adoption opportunities that are a potential match for you.
Before you can be considered for an intercountry adoption opportunity, you must be approved by an international adoption home study professional in Tennessee. You will need to work with a Tennessee-licensed home study provider that meets Hague Convention requirements (whether or not you are adopting from a Hague country).
This professional will collect important documentation from you and conduct home visits and interviews to ensure you are emotionally and financially prepared for the international adoption process.
In addition to completing the home study, you will need to be approved to adopt by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To apply for eligibility, you will need to file certain paperwork based on whether you are adopting from a Hague Convention country or a non-Hague Convention country.
Hague country: File Form 1-800A along with your completed home study. Your adoption eligibility will be valid for 15 months.
Non-Hague country: File your completed home study along with Form 1-600A if you have not received a referral for a child you intend to adopt. File your completed home study along with Form 1-600 if you have already been matched with a child. Your adoption eligibility will be valid for 18 months.
Once you have been cleared to adopt by USCIS, your TN adoption professional will send proof of your eligibility along with your adoption dossier to be reviewed by the adoption authorities in your child’s country.
The child you intend to adopt must also be eligible for adoption. Once you are matched, you will need to verify that your child is eligible to immigrate back to Tennessee from his or her country.
Depending on the form you filed previously, you will either file Form 1-800 or 1-600 (depending on whether you’re working with a Hague Convention country or not). Once USCIS reviews and approves your child’s eligibility for adoption, you can apply for his or her visa by filing Form DS-260.
When it is time for you to meet your child, you will travel from Tennessee to his or her country. Depending on the country you are adopting from, you may need to stay there for several weeks.
During this time, you’ll get to know the newest member of your family and complete the final steps of the adoption process in his or her country. You will likely need to complete a final interview with the country’s adoption authorities to verify you’ve met all of their requirements. Your child will then be awarded one of the following visas:
An IH-3 (Hague) or IR-3 (non-Hague) visa if both adoptive parents are present and the adoption is finalized in the child’s country
An IH-4 (Hague) or IR-4 (non-Hague) visa if only one of two parents is present and/or the adoption still needs to be finalized in Tennessee
Bringing your child home is an exciting part of the international adoption process, but there is still one more step you’ll need to take when you arrive back in Tennessee.
When you finally arrive back home with your child, you may be required to finalize your international adoption in a Tennessee court (if you received an IH-4 or IR-4 visa). However, even if you finalized your adoption overseas, it’s generally recommended that you complete an international re-adoption in Tennessee.
Re-adoption is strongly recommended in every international adoption to ensure your child’s citizenship is legally recognized throughout the entire United States. Failure to complete this last step of the TN international adoption process can cause legal complications for your child later on.
Adopting a child from another country in Tennessee can be a complicated and, at times, overwhelming process. But with the right adoption professional, you can help ensure a smooth international adoption journey.
The following adoption and home study agencies can provide the services and information you need to adopt abroad in Tennessee. Contact them to learn more about adopting internationally in TN and start the process today:
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