Understanding International Adoptions

Posted on in Family law

When it comes to adoptions, there are a couple different methods that prospective parents can choose from. One of the first decisions you have to make is if you want to go through a domestic adoption, meaning you are adopting a child within the United States, or an intercountry adoption, meaning you are adopting a child from another country and bringing that child back to the United States to live with you. Both types of adoptions can be difficult and tedious, but intercountry adoptions have specific rules and regulations that domestic adoptions do not.

Hague vs. Non-Hague Adoptions

Two types of intercountry adoptions exist for U.S. citizens: Hague and non-Hague adoptions. The country you decide to adopt from will determine which process you will adopt by.

Hague Adoptions

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, also known as the “Hague Adoption Convention,” is an international treaty that was created to protect the best interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents involved in adoptions.

Countries involved in the Hague Adoption Convention include:

  • United Kingdom
  • Thailand
  • Rwanda
  • Mexico
  • Sri Lanka
  • Israel
  • India
  • Colombia
  • China
  • South Africa
  • Zambia

Non-Hague Adoptions

If a country is not part of the Hague Adoption Convention, adoption may or may not be possible by U.S. citizens. In countries that allow intercountry adoption, the child must be adopted through the Orphan Process. This means that the child must be legally recognized as an orphan under U.S. immigration law. The law states that a child is considered an orphan if the child is foreign-born and does not have any parents due to the death, disappearance, abandonment, desertion, or loss of both parents. It also says that if the child’s parents are alive, they must be deemed unable to care for the child according to local standards and must surrender their parental rights in writing.

Countries that are not a part of the Hague Convention, but that allow adoption by U.S. citizens include:

  • Nigeria
  • Nepal
  • Morocco
  • Liberia
  • Japan
  • Barbados
  • Cameroon
  • Chad
  • Ethiopia

Differences Between Hague and Non-Hague Countries

The main difference between proceeding with an adoption from a Hague or a non-Hague country is that countries that participate in the Hague Convention provide more protections to adoptive parents.

Your adoption service provider must be licensed in your state of residence to proceed with an international adoption. If you are adopting from a Hague country, your adoption service provider must be approved or accredited by the Department of State.

A home study must be completed and meet both state and federal requirements to proceed with any adoption, but in the case of an adoption from a Hague country, the home study must be prepared by an accredited agency.

Adoption policies and fees are often disclosed to adoptive parents in an adoption, but in the case of a non-Hague country adoption, most state laws do not require adoption agencies to do so. In Hague convention country adoptions, adoption service providers are required to provide an itemized list of applicable fees and policies in the adoption services contract.

An important part of adopting a child from another country is understanding that country’s culture, beliefs, and ways of life. In a Hague country adoption, adoptive parents are required to complete 10 hours of parent education prior to adoption. In other adoption cases, parents are not required to complete education unless it is required by the state of residence.

Medical records are prepared and provided by the country of adoption in a Hague country adoption, and the adoption records are preserved for 75 years. In a non-Hague country, neither of those are required.

Contact a Wheaton International Adoption Lawyer

If you are considering an intercountry adoption as a way to make an addition to your family, you need the help of a knowledgeable Warrenville adoption attorney. The Law Offices of Nancy Kasko, LLC can help you through the complicated steps of the international adoption process. Call 630-836-8540 to schedule a free consultation.