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What are USCIS Guidelines for Adoption?

With so many children throughout the world in need of permanent homes, one might expect the adoption process is simple. However, that generally isn’t the case. Adopting a child from a foreign country is an often arduous and straining task that can take over three years to finish. It’s worth it though, when that happy and loving child walks through your front door!

Since the process takes so long, you may want to know the path forward prior to embarking on the adoption process. One of the most important guidelines is to qualify in the first place.

Process for a foreign adoption

1. Fill out the appropriate paperwork
You have two options here: Hague and Non-Hague. The difference is if the child is protected under the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption treaty. The Hague began in 2008 and was designed to aid and protect all parties involved in the process.

Not all children are covered by this treaty, so you may go through the Non-Hague process. This is also known as the Orphan process. If you are over 25, you are qualified to start the process. You also must prove you’ve seen the child either before or during the adoption process.

2. The Home Study Evaluation
This evaluation shows the adoption agency and the USCIS that you are capable of raising a child. This is particularly crucial when dealing with a special needs child. The case worker determines how ready you are to take in an adopted child, usually by living with you for an extended period of time!

After enduring this process, you will hopefully receive approval. Unfortunately, there are still more forms to fill and lots more waiting to do. In time, however, you should have your new bundle coming to your arms!

3. Petition for entry
Finally, U.S. citizens who have already successfully adopted their child overseas have to petition for their child’s entry into the United States using USCIS form I-130.

Be sure to consult an adoption lawyer for the lengthy process. Also, consider joining a support group, as the stress and setbacks of international adoption often take an emotional toll on prospective parents!