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International Couples: U.S. Adoption While Living Abroad

How to Adopt While Living Overseas

Hopeful parents all over the world consider adoption – it can be a beautiful way to turn your dreams into a reality.

Depending on the country you live in, the process of adopting a child will be different. As a couple living outside of America, you may be asking:

If we don't live in the United States, can American Adoptions still work with us?

Possibly. First off, at least one of you needs to be a U.S. citizen. If you are an international couple without U.S. citizenship, we are unfortunately unable to provide adoption services to you. If, however, one or both of you are a U.S. citizen currently stationed abroad by the U.S. government and considering adopting a child while stationed overseas, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION or click here for a free consultation with an adoption specialist.

American Adoptions is one of the largest private domestic adoption agencies in the United States. We have helped more than 5,000 families in over 30 years of service.

If you're a prospective birth mother and searching for information about placing a child for adoption, complete our online contact form to speak to one of our experienced professionals. They are ready to answer all of your important adoption questions, including how to find the perfect adoptive family.

In the meantime, here are some important things to consider about adopting a child while living abroad.

How to Adopt While Living Overseas

The adoption process can be long and complex. For American citizens living abroad, adoption requirements and processes may become even more complicated. There will be unique laws from both the U.S. and the nation where you live that the adoption must follow. There are also likely to be state and local laws in both the child’s birthplace and your place of residence, and potentially adoption citizenship requirements.

The best way to navigate this complexity is to work with a qualified, licensed adoption agency. There may be American adoption professionals abroad, or you could look back to that U.S. to work with agencies like American Adoptions. It also helps to understand what is required before diving into the process. Here is a broad overview of some of the key parts of the adoption process.

The Adoption Home Study

home study is required for each adoption. This study is a basic overview of your life — including criminal background checks, your finances and even your personal relationships. It is used by the courts to assess if a stable environment exists for a family to receive an adoptive placement. This is required by couples adopting in-country and those who adopt while living abroad.

International couples must ensure that their home study meets the regulations of the country they reside in. Each country does it a little bit differently, which is why any hopeful adoptive parent should research the home study requirements of their country prior to beginning the home study process.

Typically, if you are working with American Adoptions or another American agency, the agency will require the home study be translated into English. Additional supporting documents, such as reference letters, physician reports, criminal clearances, marriage licenses, birth certificates, etc., will also need to be translated. American Adoptions is unable to provide translation services, so this is an expense you will need to consider.

Depending on the country, the home study may either be completed by a government agency, a licensed private social worker or a licensed adoption agency. Once the home study is complete, American Adoptions will work with the home study provider to ensure the study meets all United States requirements. Depending on the laws of the country you reside in, there may be limitations as to where the home study is valid outside of your country. Please speak to your home study provider to learn if this will affect you.

Legal Representation

The adoption process is governed by a web of complex laws. When you are considering adoption, it is strongly recommended that you speak with an adoption or immigration attorney in the country you reside in to discuss any legal issues that may affect the adoption process, as well as any immigration or citizenship issues that may affect your adoption. Working with the right adoption attorney can be the key to successfully adopting while abroad.

Finding an Adoption Opportunity

There are several different ways to complete an adoption. American Adoptions specializes in domestic infant adoption — a process in which a prospective birth mother makes an adoption plan for her baby and then chooses the adoptive family she thinks will be best. As an adoptive family, you create a family profile with letters, photos and a video. This profile is shown to prospective birth mothers.

American Adoptions does everything possible to reduce wait times and put hopeful adoptive parents in the best position possible. We dedicate significant resources to advertising (the process of putting your profile in front of prospective birth mothers) and work with an excellent media team to produce the best profiles possible.


International couples will be required to travel to the United States for the placement of the child when adopting while abroad. You will need to apply for a passport for the baby prior to being allowed to return to your country of residence with your child. This process can take an average of 2–4 weeks, which is important to factor into your plans.  

American Adoptions and/or your legal counsel will guide you through the steps for this portion of the process. This process may require you to travel to another part of the United States to physically appear at one of the passport agencies that can assist in expedited passport services. Additionally, couples may be required to travel back to the United States for the finalization of the adoption, which typically occurs approximately six months following the placement of the child.


Even though the two processes may seem separate, adoption and immigration are part of the same process when you are bringing a child back into your country of residence. Before beginning the adoption process, a hopeful parent should understand the adoption citizenship requirements in their country of residence and what steps need to be taken for a new child to meet these requirements.

Even though American Adoptions is a full-service adoption agency, securing citizenship in another country is outside the scope of our work. We encourage you to seek the services of an experienced immigration or adoption attorney in the country you reside in to ensure that all immigration and citizenship requirements are met. Attorneys should have specific knowledge of the requirements necessary to bring a child from the United States into the country you reside in.

Contact American Adoptions Today

The home study, legal representation, adoption opportunity, travel, citizenship and more — it can be a lot to think about. It feels overwhelming to most people who want to adopt while overseas. The important point is this: anyone who dreams of having a family can pursue this dream through adoption. Even if you are living outside of the U.S., American Adoptions can help U.S. citizens around the world in your adoption journey.

To speak with an adoption specialist about completing a U.S. adoption while living abroad, click here now.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need to retain our own attorney?

No, American Adoptions has established relationships with some of the best adoption attorneys in the nation. Because adoption laws vary from state to state and between counties, it is important to utilize the services of an adoption attorney who specializes in the state where the adoption will finalize, which is unknown until you match with an expectant mother. You have the right to retain your own attorney, but doing so may be an additional, unnecessary expense.

Can we choose the gender of our baby?

American Adoptions does not allow gender specificity in adoption. Any family who wishes to be gender-specific in their adoption should contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION and ask about the possibility of an exception waiver before taking any other steps toward adoption with our agency. Any families who do receive an exception to be gender-specific may also incur an additional fee, which helps cover the additional advertising costs of such a request.

Please note that gender specificity will likely increase your wait time significantly.

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