How to Complete an International Adoption in Florida
The International Adoption Process, Step-by-Step
Intercountry adoption is the adoption of a child from any country outside of the U.S. Even though American Adoptions focuses on domestic infant adoption, we recognize that international adoption is right for many families and fully support any hopeful parent pursuing their desire to start a family.
The following will help you learn more about the Florida international adoption process for adoptive parents and what you’ll need to complete a foreign adoption:
How to Adopt a Child from Another Country If You Live in Florida
Everyone’s individual international adoption process will be different. Much of this is determined by the country you adopt from. The country’s adoption requirements and laws will vary, and whether or not they’re part of The Hague Adoption Convention will affect your adoption process.
But in general, the Florida international adoption process follows these seven steps:
Step 1: Determine Which Country You Want to Adopt From
You may already have an idea of which country you’d like to adopt from. Or, maybe you don’t have a preference where your child is born. Either is perfectly fine.
The current political climate, travel restrictions and shifting adoption laws within a country will affect which countries you’ll be able to adopt a child from at a given time. Researching your options carefully will be most beneficially to you in your Florida international adoption journey, especially since intercountry adoption laws and trends can change from one week to the next.
Additional factors that may affect which country you’ll adopt from can include:
- Variance in international adoption costs due to travel requirements and different international adoption professionals.
- The racial and cultural heritage of internationally adopted children, which will remain an important part of their lives and their adoptive family’s newly-formed culture. Adoptive parents must be prepared for and educated about this aspect of their child’s life.
- The individual eligibility requirements established by each country that prospective adoptive parents must meet before being approved to adopt through that country.
- The ages and genders of children eligible for adoption within a country can be different depending on the country.
Step 2: Select a Florida International Adoption Professional to Work With
Depending on which Florida international adoption agency you choose to work with, they’ll be authorized to complete adoptions with specific countries but not others. So, keep this in mind if you have a specific desire when you’re considering which international adoption agencies in Florida to work with. Your agency should be licensed to complete adoptions in that country and should also be highly experienced in that region.
Adoptive parents are also encouraged to work with Florida international adoption agencies that are Hague-accredited, even if they don’t plan on adopting from a Hague Convention country.
Online ratings and reviews can also be helpful in selecting a good international adoption professional who puts the needs of children first.
Step 3: Complete Your International Adoption Home Study Process
Again, your Florida home study professional should be licensed in accordance with the Hague Convention home study requirements, even if you’re not adopting from a Hague Convention country. If you’re working with a home study professional not associated with your agency, you’ll likely need the agency to approve the home study professional you work with beforehand.
An international adoption home study can take up to three months from start to finish. Most prospective adoptive parents find that the sooner you can start this step, the better.
Your Florida home study will require:
- Current health statements to verify that you’re mentally and physically healthy enough to care for a child
- Current financial statements to verify that you’re financially stable enough to care for the monetary needs of a child
- Florida and federal background checks for all household members aged 12 or older
- Adoption reference letters from your family, friends and acquaintances
- Individually written autobiographical statements about your intent to adopt
- Pre-placement visits in your home
- Post-placement visits in your home
Step 4: File for Your Adoption Eligibility
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adoption department will need to confirm your eligibility to adopt after you’ve completed your Florida international adoption home study. This will involve one of two paperwork processes:
For adoptive parents adopting from Hague Convention countries:
You’ll file Form 1-800A with several other documents, including your completed Florida international adoption home study. Once you’ve been confirmed as eligible to adopt from a Hague Convention country, it’ll stay valid for as many as 15 months.
For adoptive parents adopting from non-Hague Convention countries:
If you’ve been matched with a child already through your Florida international adoption agency, you’ll file Form 1-600 with several other documents and your completed international adoption home study. If you haven’t been matched with a child, you’ll file Form 1-600A.
Once you’ve been confirmed as eligible to adopt from a non-Hague Convention country, it’ll stay valid for as many as 18 months.
Once you’ve been verified as eligible for international adoption by the USCIS adoption authorities, your FL international adoption professional will send your adoption dossier and completed forms to the country’s adoption authorities. The country’s adoption department will then also review your adoption dossier and confirm your adoption eligibility against their own set of national adoption laws and requirements.
Because this requires multiple departments reviewing and sending your information internationally, it can take several weeks or months to process.
Step 5: File for Your Child’s Adoption Eligibility
Your child will also need to be confirmed as eligible for adoption by both the sending and receiving country. You’ll essentially need to repeat the process you completed to verify your own adoption eligibility. This time, the goal is to verify your child’s eligibility for adoption and then immigration. Here’s how that’s done:
You’ll be able to file for your child’s U.S. visa if the USCIS confirms their international adoption eligibility. This allows them to travel to the United States. To file for their visa, you’ll submit Form DS-260 to your child’s country’s administration, where they’ll need to review and approve your request.
Step 6: Travel Visas and Returning Home to Florida
Once you receive approval for your child’s adoption, you will travel to their home country to meet them. You’ll likely need to stay there for one to four weeks during the adoption and visa application process.
There will usually be an exit interview with members of your child’s country’s adoption department prior to finalization of the adoption. They’ll check to ensure that you’ve met all the international adoption requirements, and then grant the visa needed for you and your child to return to Florida.
- both adoptive parents (when applicable) are present for the adoption and the adoption is completed in the child’s home country, your child will be given an IH-3 (Hague) or an IR-3 (non-Hague) visa.
- only one out of two adoptive parents are present and/or the adoption is yet to be finalized in Florida, your child will be given an IH-4 (Hague) or an IR-4 (non-Hague) visa.
Once you’ve obtained the visa and returned to Florida, there are still a few more legal details to square away before the international adoption process is complete, even if the adoption was finalized in your child’s home country.
Step 7: Legally Complete Your Adoption with a Re-Adoption or Finalization
- If your child was given an IH-4 or an IR-4 visa, you’ll need to finalize the adoption in Florida circuit court.
- If your child was given an IH-3 or an IR-3 visa, their adoption is technically complete, but a re-adoption within the U.S. is recommended by adoption experts for legal reasons.
Completing your international adoption in Florida with a finalization or a re-adoption ensures that your child’s rights as a United State’ citizen will be permanent and protected. Adoptive parents who fail to finalize or re-adopt their child after returning to Florida have encountered frustrating legal difficulties with citizenship or parenthood later.
Once you’ve finalized the adoption or completed a re-adoption within the U.S, you’ll be able to apply for your child’s amended birth certificate and U.S. Social Security card.
International Adoption Agencies in Florida
Thoroughly researching your potential Florida international adoption professionals will be all-important to your family-building journey.
There are several international adoption agencies in Florida, including:
- Island Coast International Adoption
- Adopt International
- Sunshine State Adoption and Home Study Services
- Adoption by Shepherd Care
- ACF Adoptions
If you’re debating between international and domestic infant adoption and would like more information about the latter, you can always request free information online or call 1-800-ADOPTION to speak with an infant adoption specialist.
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.