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International Adoption in South Dakota

An international adoption is the process of adopting a child from one country to another. You may have also heard it referred to as an “intercountry adoption.” The process will look a bit different compared to a domestic adoption, but generally there are seven steps to completing your international adoption in South Dakota.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Country

Travel advisories, political climate, and changing adoption laws will influence which country you’re able to adopt abroad from at any given time. It’s a good idea to research the country that you’re interested in first before making a decision. While you are researching the country that you have your heart set on, you should also consider factors such as:

  • International Adoption Costs: An international adoption will typically cost about the same amount as a domestic adoption. In addition, you will also need to budget for your visa, travel expenses, and your stay. Depending on the country, an international adoption can get quite expensive.

  • Child Preferences: At any given time, there will certain groups of children available for you to adopt internationally. Certain ages, sibling groups, and gender are all factors to consider when you are looking at countries to adopt from.

  • Culture and Nationality: Culture will be an important part of any internationally adopted person’s life. Depending on the country you adopt from, the child could also be of a different race, affecting what their life will be like in America. It is important to have open discussions about different ethnicity and cultural issues when considering an international adoption in South Dakota.

Step 2: Choosing a South Dakota International Adoption Agency

International adoption agencies in South Dakota and across the U.S. are usually only licensed in certain parts of the world. If you already have a country that you’re attached to, you’ll want to make sure to find an agency that is licensed for that particular region. You’ll also want to make sure that your foreign adoption agency has the resources available to guide, educate, and support you during this process. Even though American Adoptions is unable to assist in the international adoption process in South Dakota, below are some agencies that you can contact to get started:

Step 3: Complete a South Dakota International Adoption Home Study

 Unlike a domestic adoption home study, your international home study provider must be Hague-accredited per the International Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012.

Like a domestic adoption, the SD international adoption home study will have several requirements, including:

  • Criminal history background checks

  • An in-home visit that will include a home inspection and an interview with the prospective adoptive family

  • Personal references

  • Recent financial statements

The home study process tends to be a lengthy one, so it’s best to contact a home study professional in South Dakota as soon as you’re ready to get started. They will be able to tell you which documents are necessary if you are adopting a child form another country.

Step 4: Eligibility Requirements for Your International Adoption

In order to establish that you are eligible to adopt internationally in South Dakota, you will need to file an application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This application will include:

  • Your completed international home study

  • Application fee

  • Other supporting documents

In addition to the above documents, you will also need to file either a 1-800A or a 1-600A depending on if you are adopting from a Hague Convention country. 

Once the USCIS adoption application has approved your adoption eligibility, your international adoption agency will send your adoption dossier to the country’s adoption agency for review.

Step 5: Apply for the Child to be Eligible

While the 1-800A or the 1-600A are used to determine if you are eligible to adopt, the child that you have matched with will need to complete a 1-800 or a 1-600 form. This will determine if they are eligible to immigrate to the United States as part of the USCIS adoption process.

If the child receives clearance from USCIS, you will be able to apply for their visa via the DS-260 form. The DS-260 form will then be reviewed by the foreign country’s adoption authorities.

Step 6: Travel and Prepare to Adopt

Your stay in your child’s birth country will last anywhere from one to four weeks. The last step of your South Dakota international adoption application is a visa interview with the child’s country’s adoption authorities, who will ensure that you have met all the requirements for an international adoption.

After the interview, you child will receive a visa based on one of the following scenarios.

  • IH-3 or IR-3: The adoption was completed in the child’s country. This means the adoption is recognized in both the child’s country and the U.S.

  • IH-4 or IR-4: The adoption was not completed in the child’s home country and/or only one of the parents met the child. In this case, you will still need to finalize the adoption in the United States.

Step 7: Re-Adoption and Finalization in South Dakota

Bringing your new family home after traveling abroad doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your adoption. Depending on which visa your child receives, you will need to either finalize the adoption or complete a recommended re-adoption.

  • If your child received an IH-4 or IR-4 visa, you will need to finalize your adoption in the United States in order to make sure that the adoption is legally recognized in both countries and that your child has full rights as a U.S. citizen.

  • If your child received an IH-3 or IR-3 visa, your adoption is considered finalized. But, it is still recommended that you complete the re-adoption process. This process ensures that your child’s citizenship is undeniable and it will secure your parental rights.

It is highly recommended that all families adopting internationally complete the re-adoption process in South Dakota after an adoption overseas. This will ensure that their parental rights are protected in every state.

According to the Department of Child Welfare, a new birth certificate will be issued in one of two ways in South Dakota after adopting a child from another country:

If the child was born in another country and the adoption decree is filed in South Dakota, the Department of Health will issue a new birth certificate.

If a child was born in another country and the adoption was finalized in that same country, a new birth certificate can be issued after filing the following documents:

  • The adoption order from the foreign country

  • A translation of the adoption order, if needed

  • Proof of the date and place of the child’s birth

  • Proof of IR-3 immigration

  • Proof that the adoptive family is a resident of the state

The Department of Health will issue a new birth certificate with the new name of the child and both names of the adoptive parents.

If you have any questions about the international adoption process in South Dakota, please speak with your local international adoption agency. If you would like to receive free information about domestic adoption with American Adoptions, please call 1-800-ADOPTION or contact us online.

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