In addition to being a joyful process, the procedure for bringing an adopted child to the United States can be a complicated one. The three options below are the normal avenues under immigration law:
Hague Convention Adoption
The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) is a treaty that governs many international adoptions. Adoption under the Hague Convention is the process that is commonly used if the child who is to be adopted lives in a country that is a party to the Hague Convention and the adoptive parents are U.S. citizens.
The general procedure for adopting a child under the Hague Convention is to use a Hague Accredited Adoption Service Provider. The potential adoptive parents must also obtain a home study from an authorized party to assure that their home is suitable for an adopted child. In addition, the adoptive parents must file Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country.
The Non-Hague (Orphan) Process
This process will often be used if the adoptive child comes from a non-Hague country and the adoptive parents are U.S. citizens. Generally, the child must be under 16 years of age (or 18, in certain limited circumstances) at the time the immigration petition (Form I-600) is filed by the adoptive parents. The process is to be used when the child does not have any biological parents or has a single parent who is unable to adequately care for him or her.
The Immediate Relative Petition Process
This procedure can be used by adoptive parents who are either citizens or Legal Permanent Residents. In order to make use of this process, the adoptive parents must have lived with the child for two years prior to filing their immigration petition. The two-year period of common residency can take place before or after the adoption has been finalized.
This process is very similar to the way in which U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident parents can petition for their biological children to come to the U.S. The adoptive child takes on all the rights of an immediate relative if the petitioning criteria have been satisfied. The child must have been adopted before his or her 16th birthday (or 18th, in very limited circumstances) for the process to apply.
The procedure for bringing an adopted child to the United States is a complicated one. Please call John L. Wheaton, Attorney at Law at 206-829-8214 if you need assistance with the process.