International Adoption in California
A Complete Guide to the International Adoption Process
While international adoption in California is the least chosen form of adoption, for some families, adopting a child from another country is an ideal way to grow their family.
If you are wondering about what to expect when adopting a child from another country, this guide will provide you with the most up-to-date information about this type of adoption.
Types of Adoption in California
When hopeful adoptive families begin to consider adoption, they often have questions about the different types of adoption agencies and what to expect with each. There are three types of adoption agencies available to those who are hoping to adopt:
Private domestic agencies: these agencies facilitate infant adoptions between prospective birth mothers and hopeful adoptive families who reside in the United States.
Foster care agencies: these agencies facilitate the adoption of children in foster care whose need changes from a safe and loving temporary placement to a permanent adoptive family.
International agencies: these agencies facilitate the adoption of infants and children from other countries.
International Adoption in California
When you choose to work with an international adoption agency to complete an international adoption in California, you are often facing a more complicated process than with the other two choices. This is due to the complexities that arise while navigating the regulations from two different countries, international travel, and varying eligibility requirements.
Furthermore, it is essential that you choose to work with an adoption professional who is accredited to work in the country from which you are hoping to adopt. The agency you work with must also be Hague-compliant, whether you are adopting in a Hague country or not.
The Hague Adoption Convention is an international treaty developed to protect children adopted internationally from trafficking, provide them better access to medical records. These regulations also require itemized expenses and the issuing of Adoption Certificates and Custody Certificates. Some countries are accredited by Hague, and others are not, but all U.S. couples must follow the same Hague-compliant federal standards.
If that all sounds confusing — it can be! That’s why it is so important to work with the right adoption agency.
Is International Adoption in California For Me?
People from all backgrounds and life paths consider adopting internationally. While your reasons are unique, you may relate to some of these common reasons for adopting internationally.
International adoption is ideal for:
Those equipped to navigate cultural transitions: Significant obstacles can arise when the customs and lifestyle of a child suddenly shift. Couples who are willing to do research on the country from which they are adopting and who are willing to support their child through a potentially difficult transition are the kinds of families who might gravitate toward international adoption in California.
Those open to a child of any age: While there are sometimes infants who are adopted from other countries, often the need for adoption occurs later in the life of the child. If you are passionate about integrating an older child into your home, international adoption in California might be right for you.
Those who would like predictable costs: While domestic adoptions can have varying costs, international agencies in California can quote you a comprehensive price with very few variable costs.
Those willing to navigate the criterium of two different countries: You are most likely to find adoption professionals who have expertise in the adoption processes of Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Haiti, and India, as they are the most common countries that Americans adopt from. With an adoption specialist in California who is certified and trained to navigate these particular regulations, you will be in good hands.
Those who would like limited or no contact with birth parents: While open adoption offers many benefits for all involved, there are many who have good reason to choose a closed adoption. Most domestic adoptions are open or semi-open, but it is rare for a birth family to have contact following a finalized international adoption.
How To Adopt Internationally in California
While every process is unique, these are the steps to Adopt via International Adoption in California:
Step 1: Choose the Country from Which you Would Like to Adopt
There is a lot to consider when you are deciding what country to pursue an international adoption with. You must, of course, decide what is best for you and your family, but you also must consider limitations that you might face due to shifting adoption laws, political current affairs, and travel bans. Some additional considerations might be the age and gender of eligible children, costs that vary from country to country, special requirements in specific countries, and the ethnicity and heritage of eligible children.
Step 2: Choose an International Adoption Professional in California
Questions you can ask an adoption specialist at a California international adoption agency to determine the best fit for you are:
Are you Hague-compliant?
What countries do you work with?
What are the costs associated with an international adoption through your agency?
It is important that you know what options you have and who is best able to work with you to make your dream of international adoption come true.
Step 3: Complete an International Home Study in California
Just as with any adoption, international adoption requires hopeful adoptive parents to complete a home study before they are approved to adopt. Home studies are evaluative tools used to ensure that a child’s placement is a safe, loving home equipped to support their growth. International home study professionals are licensed according to Hague Convention home study requirements and take about three months to complete.
Step 4: Gain Approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
To become eligible for international adoption in California, you must be verified by the USCIS. If you are adopting from a Hague Convention country, you will file Form 1-800A. If you are adopting from a non-Hague Convention country, you will 1-600A or 1-600. Once the USCIS confirms your eligibility, they will send your documents to the adoption authorities in the country from which you are hoping to adopt.
Step 5: File a Petition with USCIS
Once you have been matched with a child, your next step will be to apply to the USCIS for the child to become eligible for adoption into the US. If they live in a Hague Convention country, you will file Form 1-800 for the second time. If not, you will file Form 1-600. Once the USCIS confirms their eligibility, you will then file for their U.S. Visa. You will file Form DS-260 to the child’s country of origin for approval.
Step 6: Travel to Child’s Country of Origin
You, of course, will be excited to travel to meet your adopted child, but the trip is also necessary to meet certain legal requirements. Visa application processes and other adoption procedures will require you stay in your child’s home country for one to four weeks. You will return home to Ohio after having obtained a visa for your child and be ready to complete your international adoption in Ohio.
Step 7: Complete Your International Adoption in California
The last step in the international adoption process in California is either a finalization or a re-adoption. While finalization is required by law, a re-adoption is not always. Your adoption professional will advise you on the processes you need to follow, depending upon your situation.
When is Re-Adoption Required?
Readoption is the act of having your international adoption reviewed by a California state. After they confirm that the adoption has adhered to California adoption laws, your child will be issued a new adoption decree and birth certificate.
Re-adoption is required when a child receives an IH-4 or IR-4 visa, and not required when a child receives an IH-3 or IR-3 visa. Still, it is highly recommended for all adoptions that are completed abroad to go through the re-adoption process to ensure that your adoption decree is recognized by all states and that your child’s citizenship is never questioned.
Other benefits to a re-adoption are:
An adoption decree written in English
The ability to change a legal name
The protection from changes in foreign adoption laws
Pros and Cons of International Adoption
To put it simply, international adoption is not for everyone. There are pros and cons to consider, and other types of adoption that you might be more inclined to pursue.
Some advantages to international adoption in California include:
Possibility for Closed adoption (desirable for some)
Ability to expand a child’s opportunities
Some disadvantages to international adoption in California include:
Requires international travel
Requires lots of paperwork
It is likely you have more questions about your choice to pursue international adoption in California. For more information, contact the following California agencies:
Remember that there are other ways to adopt that might suit you better:
Domestic adoptions are almost always open, involve infants, and can have less cost and wait time involved.
Foster care adoptions are closed, involve children of all ages, and can sometimes be free.
If you are still unsure which type of adoption is best for you, you can contact us today to be connected with a helpful adoption professional who can help you make the decision that is right for you.
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