Adopting a child brings immeasurable joy to the lives ofa child and their new parents. Both the adoptee and adopters can enrich each other’s lives with laughter, happiness and unconditional love. In the US, the process that couples must go through in order to adopt a child is rightfully very strict. Whilst this process is complex and multi-layered, an increasing number of Americans are now seeking to adopt – both in the US and abroad.
Before they can adopt, US citizens must submit a raft of documentation that supports their claim of suitability to adequately raise a child. This will cover factors including a detailed financial and employment analysis.As a further means of highlighting one’s character and suitability to raise a child, people wishing to adopt a child from a foreign country – as well as most parts of the US – will need to submit a copy of their official FBI Criminal report.
This process is performed by what’s known as an FBI Channelling Agency. An FBI-approved channeler has an authorized contract with the FBI to act as the ‘middle-person’ between the FBI and those seeking to adopt. An FBI-approved channeler is tasked with submitting fingerprints to the FBI and then collecting the relevant FBI criminal history record information.
In the case of those applying to adopt a child, people are nearly always asked to submit a Certificate of Good Conduct or Lack of Criminal Record. These can be derived from a person’s official FBI criminal report. An FBI criminal report is often purely a summary of an individual’s arrests and convictions. However, it must be emphasized that any major run-ins with the law or serious misdemeanours will be displayed in an FBI criminal report.
For Americans that wish to adopt a child from a foreign country, the process requires further steps to be enacted. As well as submitting an FBI criminal report through an FBI-approved channeler, applicants must go through either a Hague or Non-Hague (orphan) review. This depends largely on the country of the adoptive child.
Individuals or couples wishing to adopt must also be US citizens and habitually reside in the United States.
The Hague Adoption Convention is an international treaty that implements crucial protective mechanisms to ensure the best interests of children, birth parents and adoptive parents.
Prospective adoptive parents must first select a Hague accredited Adoptive Services Provider. An adoptive services provider (ASP) must be legally authorized to offer adoption services in lieu of a Hague adoption. An ASP is then tasked with assisting those wishing to adopt with a Hague adoption.
A Hague accredited ASP is further required to perform what’s known as a home study. A home study ascertains whether the home environment is safe and suitable to meet the needs of an adopted child. This will observe factors that determine the living conditions inside a home and the standards to which a child can be safely raised.
After a prospective adoptive parent has chosen a Hague accredited ASP and obtained a home study from someone authorized to complete a Hague adoption home study, they must apply to the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) to determine their suitability for intercountry adoption. This process involves the prospective adoptive parents submitting Form I-800A (Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country) to the USCIS to establish their eligibility.
If the person wishing to adopt is married, then their spouse is also required to sign Form I-800A and must intend to adopt any child whom they adopt. If a prospective adoptive parent is not married, then legal requirements state that they must be at least 24 years of age when filing Form I-800A.
Once the USCIS has approved an application, a prospective adoptive parent then works with an ASP to obtain a proposed adoption placement.
Before a person can formally adopt the child, they must file Form I-800 on behalf of the child to be adopted. The child must be under 16 at the time of filing Form I-800, habitually reside in a convention country, and be classified as eligible for intercountry adoption by the Central Authority of that country – having obtained all required consents for adoption.
Only once a proposed adoption placement has been finalized, can a prospective adoptive parent then file a petition with the USCIS. This petition seeks to determine an adoptive child’s eligibility to immigrate to the US – as based on the proposed adoption.
After these motions have been approved, an individual or couple can adopt the child, or obtain custody of the child to adopt them in the US.
The final step in this process is for adoptive parents to obtain an immigrant visa for the adopted child and then bring the child to the US for admission with the visa.
The process for adopting a child within the US is governed by a set of strict guidelines. For US citizens wishing to a adopt a child from overseas, this process remains complex. If you and your partner are considering adopting a child, there are supports in place to fast-track this process and provide you with ongoing information and assistance.