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Intercountry Adoption

Intercountry (or international) adoption occurs when a child is adopted into a family from a country of origin and citizenship status different from the child’s own.

Thousands of Americans adopt through intercountry adoption each year.

Many adoption programs are available, so determining which country you are interested in will guide you in choosing an agency. When considering adoption, prospective adoptive parents should also be aware that the amount of information available about a child’s history will range broadly between programs and care organizations.

Intercountry adoption is governed by three sets of laws, each seeking to ensure a child is legally able to be placed into a family through adoption:

  • U.S. federal laws
  • State laws where the adoptive family resides
  • Laws of the child’s country of origin
  • NOTE: In addition, because the U.S. is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, it is important to understand how those laws affect the process.

Intercountry adoption will generally involve the following steps:

1. After your home study is finished, you will be required to complete and gather additional paperwork and documentation for submission to the U.S. government and child’s country of origin for approval.

2. Once approved, prospective adoptive families are eligible to receive a referral. A referral is a profile of a waiting child who is eligible for adoption. 

3. After a child’s referral is accepted, the adoptive family will begin taking steps toward completing paperwork necessary to travel to the child’s country of origin and finalize the child’s adoption.

The Hague Convention

As further explained on the U.S. Department of State’s website, The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption is an international agreement to safeguard adoptions. There are differences in the process based on whether a country has signed the Hague Convention. A comprehensive list of these differences can be found in the U.S. Department of State’s website. For more information, read Show Hope’s white paper entitled The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.

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