How to Complete an International Adoption in Arkansas
International adoption, also called intercountry adoption, is the process of adopting a child from a foreign country. While international adoptions peaked in the U.S. in 2004, for a variety of complicated reasons, the number of international adoptions completed by American families has declined every year since.
Still, there are thousands of hopeful parents who fulfill their dream of starting a family through intercountry adoption each year. You may be considering international adoption in Arkansas yourself. If you believe this is the right path for adding to your family, there are options available to you. It’s just about being aware of them and knowing how to safely and ethically move forward.
Even though American Adoptions works primarily in domestic infant adoption, we support every hopeful parent’s journey to building their family. In that spirit, we have created the following guide to international adoption in Arkansas.
However, for the most accurate information for your situation, we encourage you to contact a local international adoption agency in Arkansas as early in your journey as possible.
How to Adopt a Child from Another Country When You Live in Arkansas
Before you can decide whether or not international adoption in Arkansas is right for your family, you first have to understand what this process entails. Like every other adoption path, adopting internationally comes with its own challenges and rewards. It’s up to you to determine if they are worth it and meet your personal adoption goals.
Every parent’s international adoption process in Arkansas will be different, but many will follow these seven general steps:
Step 1: Choose a country to adopt from.
Your child’s home country will determine each step of the process from this point forward, so it’s important that you choose a country before you do anything else. You’ll want to consider your preferences in terms of age or gender of the child you hope to adopt, the country’s eligibility criteria, the culture of the country, and the costs to adopt from that particular location.
The average cost of international adoptions varies from nation to nation, typically because of the travel costs involved. For example, this Adoption Fee Calculator helps you see the cost differences with one particular agency. Make sure you discuss international adoption costs in detail with several agencies before choosing one for your journey.
Step 2: Choose an international adoption professional in Arkansas.
Different agencies specialize in completing different international adoptions, so identifying which country you’d like to adopt from is essential. The professional who helps you adopt abroad should be Hague-accredited, which means that they comply with Hague Convention requirements to ensure international adoptions are safe and ethical.
Whether or not the country you choose from is a part of the Hague Convention is irrelevant; all adoption professionals are required to comply with Hague requirements per the Universal Accreditation Act of 2012.
In addition to being Hague-accredited, your adoption professional should communicate with the country you wish to adopt from, oversee your home study, and find a match with a child, among other services. Take your time to research your options before choosing the international adoption agency that is right for your family.
Step 3: Complete your home study.
This process should look similar to the one for a domestic adoption home study. Keep in mind that the country you adopt from may have additional requirements, which your adoption professional should prepare you for. Otherwise, your international adoption home study will include the gathering of important documents, an in-home visit and an in-person interview.
Step 4: Apply for international adoption eligibility.
Before you adopt internationally in Arkansas, you’ll need to be declared eligible to adopt by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The form you’ll be required to fill out to apply will depend on whether or not the country you’re adopting from is a Hague Convention country. If it is, you’ll fill out Form I-800A. If not, you’ll fill out the Form I-600A or Form I-600, depending on whether or not you’ve already identified a child to adopt.
Step 5: Wait for a match.
Once you’ve been deemed eligible to adopt overseas, you’ll wait for an adoption opportunity. Professionals in the country you’re adopting from will contact your Arkansas international adoption agency with a referral. You’ll typically receive the child’s name, picture, birthday, medical and social information and why he or she has been matched with you.
In some cases, you’ll travel to the country before receiving a referral. In other cases, you’ll travel after accepting the referral.
Step 6: Apply for your child’s eligibility to immigrate to the United States.
Depending on which form you filled out for your own eligibility to adopt, you’ll fill out Form I-800 or I-600 to make sure your child is deemed adoptable by the USCIS.
Step 7: Travel to adopt your child.
Your stay in your child’s home country may last anywhere from one to four weeks, during which time you’ll complete your visa application. You’ll also complete an interview with the foreign country’s adoption authorities to ensure that you meet all of their international adoption requirements.
When these steps are complete, you’ll receive one of the following immigration visas for your child:
- The IH-3 (for Hague countries) or IR-3 (for non-Hague countries) visa: This is the visa you’ll receive if both adoptive parents were present to complete the adoption in the foreign country.
- The IH-4 (for Hague countries) or IR-4 (for non-Hague countries) visa: This is the visa you’ll receive if only one of two parents met the child or if the adoption wasn’t completed in the foreign country. You’ll need to finalize your child’s international adoption in Arkansas if this is the visa you receive.
When does an intercountry adoption require re-adoption in Arkansas?
The international adoption process still has one more step: re-adoption. Regardless of which visa your child received, it’s highly recommended that re-adoption is completed. This makes sure your international adoption is legally recognized in Arkansas. In doing so, you ensure that your child has all the rights and privileges of a United States citizen.
Failing to complete a re-adoption (or finalizing your child’s international adoption) in Arkansas can lead to legal issues in the future. Please speak with a local adoption attorney for more information on this topic.
Arkansas International Adoption Agencies
To get started on your international adoption, you’ll need to scout out some international adoption agencies in Arkansas. You should always do your research on your options, so that you choose the professional who can provide the best services for the country you are looking to adopt from.
Some options for Arkansas residents are:
If you are still deciding between domestic and international adoption in Arkansas, the specialists at American Adoptions are happy to tell you more about our infant adoption services in this state. You can always call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time or contact us online for more free adoption information.
Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.