International Adoption Lawyer in Phoenix
Immigration Attorneys Bringing Families Together
Thousands of U.S. citizens adopt children from overseas every year in what is known as “intercountry adoption” or “international adoption.” It is a complicated and lengthy, but ultimately rewarding process.
International adoption requires that the U.S. government determines not only that the prospective adoptive parents are eligible and suitable for adopting a child, but also that the child is eligible to immigrate to the U.S. The government of the child’s home country and the state government where the parents live are also involved.
However, children adopted from overseas are given U.S. visas to enter the country and are then eligible for permanent residence (green cards).
Intercountry / international adoptions are accomplished more quickly and with fewer risks of problems when experienced immigration lawyers, like those of the Phoenix, Arizona firm Kanu & Associates, P.C., assist the prospective parents throughout the process.
Multiple Routes to International Adoption
U.S. citizens who wish to adopt a child from overseas will likely go through one of two processes, depending on the child’s country of residence. Non-citizen legal residents of the U.S., and citizens in some cases, may use a third program for intercountry adoptions.
The first step in an international adoption (or second step if you hire an experienced immigration / international adoptions attorney first) is to determine which adoption process fits your situation: The Hague Process, Orphan Process or Immediate Relative Process.
The Hague Process
The Hague Adoption Convention was ratified in 2008 to safeguard all parties in international adoptions, including the children, new parents and birth parents. Each of the 90-plus countries that are party to the convention has established a central authority for adoptions (for example, the State Department in the U.S.) and accredited Adoption Service Providers (ASPs) that broker the adoptions.
Steps to an international / intercountry adoption under the Hague Convention include:
- Choosing an ASP
- Obtaining a home study from someone authorized to complete a Hague adoption home study
- Applying to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for approval of suitability for an intercountry adoption
- Working with the ASP to obtain a proposed adoption placement
- Petitioning the USCIS to have the child declared eligible to immigrate to the U.S.
- Adopting the child, or obtaining custody so you can adopt the child in the U.S.
- Obtaining an immigrant visa for the child
- Bringing the child to the United States for admission with the visa.
What is the Orphan Process?
This process is not usually available for adopting a child from countries that are party to the Hague Adoption Convention.
The Orphan Process requires having the child declared an orphan, which means the child:
- Does not have any parents because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents; OR
- Has a sole or surviving parent who is unable to care for the child, consistent with the local standards of the foreign country where the child and parent live, and who has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption.
The Orphan Process requires a home study, petitioning the USCIS to have the child declared eligible to immigrate to the U.S., adopting or obtaining custody of the child and applying for a visa for the child before bringing him or her to the U.S., as in the Hague Process.
Understanding the Immediate Relative Process
A third process available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents of the U.S. is to petition for a child to be declared an immediate relative. If you are adopting from a Hague Convention country, certain restrictions apply that may prevent your child from immigrating to the country using this process.
Proper guidance can make a critical difference in the success of an intercountry adoption. Our Phoenix immigrant lawyers at Kanu & Associates, P.C., can guide you through the international adoption process.