If you are considering an intercountry adoption you probably have lots of questions and may not be sure where to even begin trying to understand all that is involved. Let’s start with the basics, and connect you with key resources to learn more and take the next step in this journey.
Intercountry adoption is the process by which a child born in one country becomes part of a family in another country through adoption. Intercountry adoption is recognized as an important method of meeting the needs of children living outside of family care. The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption regulates intercountry adoption between over 100 different countries, including the United States, and is intended to promote transparency in adoption and protect the rights of all parties to adoption. Intercountry adoptions of children from countries that are not signatories to the Hague Convention require a different adoption process. All intercountry adoptions, both Hague and non-Hague, must meet all adoption regulations and requirements in both the child’s country of origin and the receiving country.
NCFA believes intercountry adoption is part of a continuum of care that should include enhanced support services for families that need help to care for their children, quality care for orphaned and vulnerable children pending permanent placement, and the development of domestic adoption programs in every country. Children who cannot receive permanent, nurturing care from their families of origin or another family in their country of birth within a reasonable time should be considered eligible for adoption into a permanent family through intercountry adoption.
Over 280,000 children and youth have been adopted by U.S. parents through intercountry adoption. The U.S. Department of State maintains an interactive statistics database of intercountry adoptions searchable by year, country, state, and Visa type, and can report based on gender and age of the children at the time of adoption.
Much has changed in the field of intercountry adoption, from policies and procedures to the profile of waiting children. It is important that prospective adoptive parents understand that the majority of children eligible for intercountry adoption to the United States are over two years old at the time of adoption and have at least one identified medical, developmental, or other special need. There are more boys than girls waiting for adoption, and many countries are seeking adoptive families for waiting sibling groups.
To learn more about adopting from a specific country, visit the U.S. State Department’s Country Information page or connect with an accredited adoption agency who can provide more details about the countries that they work in including parent eligibility requirements, process fees and timeframes, travel requirements and eligible children. Click Here to search our Directory of Adoption Agencies.
In December of 2020, Peter Selman, with Newcastle University in the U.K., published a compilation of global statistics on states of origin and receiving states between 2004 - 2019.
The United States is a party to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, so adoptions from other Hague member states are governed by the Hague process. The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption was created to protect the best interests of children by helping to ensure ethical standards for intercountry adoption. Member countries of the Hague Convention have set international standards for intercountry adoption that must be upheld.
Adoptions from countries that have not signed the Hague Convention follow a different non-Hague process. Non-Hague countries that participate in intercountry adoption have different standards, often agreed upon independently between sending and receiving nations. The Universal Accreditation Act (UAA), requires that adoption service providers working with prospective adoptive parents in non-Hague adoptions must comply with the same accreditation requirement and standards for all children, regardless of their country of origin.
Resources from National Council For Adoption
- Adoption Advocate No. 140: Choosing an Adoption Professional
- Adoption Advocate No. 136: Larger Than Intercountry Adoption
- Adoption Advocate No. 81: Avoiding the Perils and Pitfalls of Intercountry Adoption from Non-Hague Countries: Considerations for Agencies and Adoptive Parents (Part II)
- Adoption Advocate No. 80: Avoiding the Perils and Pitfalls of Intercountry Adoption from Non-Hague Countries: Considerations for Agencies and Adoptive Parents (Part I)
- Adoption Advocate No. 60: Preparing Children for the Adoption of a Sibling: Recommendations for Families Considering Intercountry Adoption
- Adoption Advocate No. 57: Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption: Who Wants to Adopt and Who Could Be Adopted?
- Adoption Advocate No. 50: Earlier is Better for Family Care: What Research Tells Us About Young Children and Institutionalization
U.S. Department of State - The U.S. Department of State provides information for prospective parents and adoption professionals, booklets on specific countries, news and alerts on intercountry adoption, Hague Convention information, and more at www.adoption.state.gov.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services - USCIS lists information on both Hague and non-Hague adoptions as well as the immigration requirements for adopted children at www.uscis.gov/adoption
Social Security Administration - Information about obtaining a Social Security card for your adopted child is available on the SSA website.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a factsheet that provides provides an overview of Federal requirements that apply to adoptions finalized in another country by U.S. citizens. It also discusses requirements that adoptive parents must meet in their State of residence in order to gain State recognition of the adoption and to receive a new State-issued birth certificate for their adopted child.
NCFA's Intercountry Adoption Journey is a Hague-compliant training program for prospective adoptive families and adoption agency staff. Complete with articles, videos and interactive training tools, IAJ will help you better understand the challenges of intercountry adoption and how to effective nurture and parent a child that has come into your family through intercountry adoption. Click here to learn more about the Intercountry Adoption Journey.
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