International adoption, also called intercounty adoption, refers to any adoption of a child from a country outside of the United States. Here’s what you’ll need to know about the international adoption process for prospective parents in Texas and the resources you’ll need to complete your international adoption.
Your own international adoption process will vary depending on whether the country from which you adopt is part of The Hague Adoption Convention, as well as the country’s individual adoption laws and requirements. But regardless of the country you choose, you can generally expect to follow the same major steps of the international adoption process in Texas:
Some adoptive families have a preference about which country their child is born in, while others do not. Current political occurrences, travel bans, or changing national adoption laws will affect which countries you’ll be able to adopt from. Always research your options thoroughly when deciding which country to adopt from, because international adoption trends are subject to frequent changes.
Other influencing factors affecting the country you’ll adopt through can include:
From one country to the next, the ages and genders of children available for adoption may vary.
Potential adoptive parents will need to meet a country’s individual eligibility requirements before being cleared to adopt from that country.
International adoption costs will vary depending on the country and adoption professional you adopt from.
The race and cultural heritage of an internationally adopted child will always play a role in their life. Adoptive parents must be educated and ready to embrace this new aspect of their family’s unique culture.
Each Texas international adoption agency is authorized to complete adoptions within certain countries, and those intercountry adoption authorizations vary from one agency to the next. If you have a specific country in mind that you wish to adopt from, you may want to look for an adoption agency that’s licensed to complete adoptions within that country, and is experienced at doing so.
It’s also recommended that you choose an international adoption agency that is Hague-accredited, regardless of whether or not you intend to adopt from a country that’s part of the Hague Convention.
Be sure to check reviews and ratings of Texas international adoption agencies when you’re looking for a high-quality adoption professional to work with. Find an international adoption agency that puts the needs of children first and has a reputation for taking care of their clients.
Even if you’re not adopting from a Hague Convention country, your Texas home study professional needs to be licensed in accordance with the Hague Convention home study requirements. It’s generally fine if you work with a home study professional not associated with your agency, but your adoption agency will probably need to approve the home study professional you work with first.
In most other ways, the home study is similar to the domestic adoption home study. You’ll need:
Criminal background checks in Texas as well as on a federal level for household members over the age of 14
Recent health records
Recent financial records
Adoption reference letters from family, friends and acquaintances
Individual personal statements about your desire to adopt
Pre-placement in-home visits including an interview and home inspection
Post-placement in-home visits to monitor adjustment
Before you can officially adopt, you’ll need to be confirmed as eligible to adopt through The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Adoption Department.
For those adopting through Hague Convention countries:
File Form 1-800A alongside relevant documents and your completed international adoption home study. Confirmed adoption eligibility for a Hague Convention country is valid for up to 15 months.
For those adopting through a non-Hague Convention country:
If you haven’t been matched with a child yet, file Form 1-600A. If your Texas international adoption agency has already matched you with a child, you’ll file Form 1-600 with the relevant documents and your completed international adoption home study.
Confirmed adoption eligibility for a non-Hague Convention country is valid for up to 18 months.
After USCIS adoption authorities have verified that you are eligible for international adoption, your TX international adoption professional will send your completed forms and your adoption dossier to the country’s adoption authorities. Then, they’ll review your information to confirm that you’re considered eligible to adopt by their own national adoption laws.
The child that you intend to adopt will need to also be considered eligible for adoption, so you’ll basically repeat the process that confirmed your own adoption eligibility — now with the goal of confirming the child’s eligibility for adoption and immigration.
For your own adoption eligibility you filed Form 1-800A or 1-600A. Now, you will either file Form 1-800 if you’re working with a Hague Convention country or 1-600 if you’re not.
If the USCIS confirms your child’s adoption eligibility, you’ll file for the child’s U.S. visa so that they can immigrate to the United States. You’ll file Form DS-260 to the child’s home country’s administration to review and approve.
You can usually plan on staying within your child’s home country about one to four weeks as you complete the adoption and visa application.
Anticipate an exit interview with your child’s home country’s adoption authorities to confirm that you’ve fulfilled all their adoption requirements before finalizing the adoption. If you meet that final stage of approval, you’ll be granted a visa so that you can return home with your child:
If both adoptive parents (if applicable) are present and the adoption is completed in-country, you’ll be granted an IH-3 (Hague) or IR-3 (non-Hague) visa
If only one of two adoptive parents are present and/or the adoption still needs to be finalized in Texas, you’ll be given an IH-4 (Hague) or IR-4 (non-Hague) visa
You’ll be able to apply for your child’s amended birth certificate and their Social Security card upon returning to Texas.
The Texas international adoption process is still not quite complete, even after you return home.
In order to complete the international adoption process in Texas, you’ll need to either complete a finalization or a recommended re-adoption:
If your child received an IH-4 or IR-4 visa, you’ll finalize the adoption in Texas.
If your child received an IH-3 or IR-3 visa, the adoption is legally complete by your child’s home country’s standards, but re-adoption on U.S. soil is highly recommended by adoption professionals.
Re-adoption or finalization safeguards your child’s rights as a U.S. citizen and confirms that the adoption is legally recognized by the administrations of both countries. Failure to re-adopt or finalize your child’s adoption in Texas can raise legal questions about parenthood or citizenship later on. While adoption finalization is legally required, a re-adoption will confirm the legal safety of your new family.
After finalization or re-adoption in Texas, the international adoption process is complete.
Remember to research your options for adoption professionals carefully; check reviews and rating, get second opinions and educate yourself about international adoption in depth before beginning with an agency!
There are a number of full-service international adoption agencies in Texas, including some that offer international adoption home study services, including:
Children’s House International Adoptions (Texas branch)
All God’s Children International Adoption (Texas branch)
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