Q: What is the biggest difference between a domestic (in-country) adoption and an international adoption?
A: To adopt a child from another country, you must not only follow the laws of your state, but also those of the other county and both countries’ immigration regulations. The process itself varies greatly depending on where the child lives. If the child’s home country belongs to The Hague Adoption Convention (The Hague), then you must follow The Hague’s processes for both countries. If The Hague is involved, you must use an accredited adoption agency. One of The Hague’s more recent requirements is that adoptive parents must participate in at least 10 hours of training before traveling abroad to finalize an adoption.
Q: What is the adoption process?
A: Again, the process varies depending on the country involved. However, in general, you will do the following: 1) select an adoption agency; 2) get approved to adopt, which requires a home study; 3) get matched with a child eligible for adoption; 4) travel to the child’s home country to adopt or obtain custody of the child; 5) apply for a visa for the child to come to the U.S.; 6) travel again to your child’s home country; 7) travel back to the U.S. with your child; 8) adopt or re-adopt your child in the U.S.
Most of the time, the adoption will be finalized in the child’s home country and it will be recognized in the U.S. However, some countries do not grant final adoptions. If your child’s country does not grant final adoptions, then the U.S. must finalize your child’s adoption. Sometimes re-adoption in the U.S. may be required. Even when re-adoption is not required, it is frequently recommended. Re-adoption can, for example, provide adoption “insurance” when dealing with politically unstable governments and can help to ensure that language barriers do not get in the way of finalizing the adoption.
Q: What are some things we should know when considering an international adoption?
A: Fairly often, the medical, social, prenatal and/or family history of an adoptee from another country is unavailable, and even the child’s birth date may be unknown. You may or may not receive a photograph of the child. A somewhat older adopted child may suffer from emotional trauma that is unrelated to the adoption process, or may have significant developmental and educational delays.
There is also the risk of adoption process abuse and fraudulent activity. For example, a family may take money intended to cover adoption expenses and vanish, or a child may suddenly lose adoption eligibility.
You should also know that some countries have age, income and even marital requirements, while others do not. Research each country’s requirements before you begin the adoption process.
There are various support groups for families going through this process. Visit http://www.nacac.org/parentgroups/database.html to locate a group in your area.
Q: How long does it take to finalize an international adoption?
A: Timelines are unpredictable. Such factors as an unstable government, the view of the child’s home country on adoption, strikes or holidays can mean delays, and some can be quite long. Finalization from the time of the referral can take several years.
Q: How much does it cost to complete an international adoption?
A: On average, an international adoption can range in total costs from $10,000 to $30,000 per child. When you meet with an adoption agency to discuss international adoption, the agency should provide a rough cost estimate. Costs may include (but are not limited to) a fee to the foreign agency, the child’s visa, travel and boarding in the foreign country for your family, travel from the foreign country for your family and the child, translator fees, home study and legal fees. Most costs will not be refunded and cannot be transferred if the adoption is not completed. However, during the year that an adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents may be eligible for a federal tax credit. For more information about this credit, view this article: https://www.ohiobar.org/ForPublic/Resources/LawYouCanUse/Pages/LawYouCanUse-435.aspx.
This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Amanda L. Sims, Esq., at Poling Law. Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek the advice of a licensed attorney.