International Adoption in West Virginia
International adoption, sometimes called intercountry adoption, refers to the adoption of a child from a different country than your own. In this article, you will learn how the international adoption process works and find resources to successfully complete an international adoption in West Virginia.
West Virginia International Adoption Process
Your adoption journey will look different depending on whether or not the country from which you adopt is part of The Hague Convention, and on the specific adoption laws in said country. However, there are seven major steps in the West Virginia international adoption process that will typically look the same.
Step 1: Choose a Country
Some adoptive families don’t have a preference about the country from which they adopt, while others have a desire to adopt from a particular country. If you do not have a preference, you will need to research several different options before making your decision.
There are several factors that may influence your adoption from a particular country, including current political affairs, travel restrictions, or changing adoptions laws. Other influencing factors may include:
Individual eligibility requirements that may restrict you from adopting in that particular country
The availability of children in your desired age range or gender
Total cost of adoption after considering travel to that particular country (possibly more than once)
Whether or not you are comfortable adopting a child of that particular culture or race
Step 2: Choose a WV International Adoption Professional
Not all international adoption agencies in WV are able to complete adoptions in any country; some agencies are restricted to specific countries. If you want to adopt from a particular country, you will need to find a licensed international adoption agency that has experience completing adoptions in that area.
A few factors to look for in your West Virginia international adoption agency are:
How well they educate, support and guide adoptive families through the West Virginia international adoption process.
Their ability to handle communication with the country through which you want to adopt.
Their ability to conduct an international adoption home study, or oversee the home study process conducted by an approved West Virginia home study professional.
How they search for children and birth families who may be potential matches for your family.
Their ability to guide you through the paperwork and legalities that come with international adoption in West Virginia.
It may be helpful to look for reviews and testimonials from former adoptive families whenever possible. These can help you ensure that you are working with a high-quality agency that will help you in every step from home study to re-adoption.
Step 3: Complete Your WV International Adoption Home Study
A home study professional for international adoption must be licensed according to the Hague Convention requirements, even if you are not planning to adopt through a Hague-associated country. In many instances, your international adoption agency will also be able to complete the home study; however, if you work with an outside professional, your agency will likely need to review your home study before approving you to adopt.
The home study process for international adoption in West Virginia can take several months, so it is best to get started as soon as possible.
In order to complete your international adoption home study, you will need:
Criminal background clearances on state and federal levels
Recent health statements
Recent financial statements
In-home visits, which will include an interview and home safety inspection
Post-placement visits to verify that everyone is adjusting well to the placement
Additional requirements will be outlined by your international adoption professional depending on the country from which you choose to adopt.
Step 4: Apply to be Eligible for Adoption
Before being approved for an international adoption in West Virginia, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must verify that you are eligible to adopt.
If you’re adopting through a Hague Convention country:
You will need to file Form 1-800A along with your personal information, required documentation, and a completed international home study. Once approved, your eligibility for adoption through a Hague Convention country is valid for 15 months.
If you’re adopting through a non-Hague Convention country:
You will need to file Form 1-600A if you have not yet matched with a child that you intend to adopt. If you have already matched with a child through your West Virginia international adoption agency, you will need to file Form 1-600 along with your personal information, required documentation, and a completed international adoption home study.
Once approved, your eligibility for adoption through a non-Hague Convention country is valid for 18 months.
After the USCIS adoption departments has cleared your adoption eligibility, your West Virginia international adoption provider will send your adoption dossier to the country’s adoption authorities. These authorities will also review your adoption paperwork to ensure that you are eligible to adopt according to their adoption laws.
Step 5: Apply for the Child to be Eligible for Adoption
When you’ve been matched with a child available for adoption, you will need to verify that the child is eligible for immigration to the U.S. This process is essentially a repetition of the steps you took to verify your ability to adopt.
For this step, you will need to file either Form 1-800 or 1-600, depending on whether you’re working with a Hague Convention country or not.
The USCIS will need to review your child’s form and information in order to approve their adoption eligibility. Once approved, you will need to apply for the child’s U.S. visa to be able to leave their home country. To do this, you will need to submit Form DS-260, which will be reviewed by the country’s administration before issuing a visa.
Step 6: Travel to Meet Your Child & Return Home
In order to complete your West Virginia intercountry adoption, you will need to travel to your child’s home country; this trip can last anywhere from one to four weeks. During your stay, you will complete the final steps of your child’s visa application process, work on completing the legal aspects of the WV international adoption process, and of course spend time bonding with your child.
Before you return home, you will complete a final interview with the country’s adoption authorities. During this interview, they will ensure that you’ve met all requirements for adoption. Once you receive this verification, they will grant your child a visa according to your situation. This will be either:
An IH-3 (for Hague countries) or IR-3 (for non-Hague countries) visa if both adoptive parents are present and the adoption is complete in the child’s home country
An IH-4 (for Hague countries) or IR-4 (for non-Hague countries) visa if only one of two adoptive parents are present and/or the adoption has to be finalized in West Virginia
When you return to the U.S., you must make sure that your child has their:
Social Security card
Any additional documents required by the sending country
Step 7: Finalization or Re-Adoption in West Virginia
Upon returning home with your child, you will need to complete the international adoption process through either a finalization or a re-adoption.
If your child was given an IH-4 or IR-4 visa, you will finalize the adoption in West Virginia
If your child was given an IH-3 or IR-3 visa, the adoption is technically complete because if was finalized in your child’s home country. However, a re-adoption is highly recommended by adoption professionals as it will ensure that the adoption is recognized by the U.S.
This final step will ensure that the adoption is legalized in both countries, and that your child will receive full rights as a U.S. citizen. Failing to finalize or re-adopt in West Virginia can result in legal difficulties regarding your child’s citizenship or your parental rights.
After the finalization or re-adoption in West Virginia, your child’s adoption has been successfully completed and he or she is a legal and permanent member of your family.
International Adoption Agencies in West Virginia
There are several agencies throughout the state that can help you with your WV international adoption needs. Before choosing to work with any one of these agencies, it is important that you research each one to ensure they will meet your needs.
Burlington United Methodist Family Services, Inc. *Not Hague Accredited*
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.