March 21, 2019
International adoption has been an increasingly popular option for adopting a child. However, it is important to recognize that U.S. immigration laws can be very strict regarding foreign adoption.
In addition to navigating immigration laws, adoptive parents will have to follow U.S. federal and state laws as well. For those considering international adoption in Pennsylvania, it is extremely important to consult with a Philadelphia immigration attorney to ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible.
Failure to understand foreign adoption regulations could result in:
- Vacating or annulling the adoption
- Inability to bring the child to the U.S.
- Discovering years later that the child is not a citizen
Foreign Adoption Process
Adults hoping to qualify for international adoption first need to meet a few basic requirements to apply for approval:
- Adoptive parent must be a U.S. citizen
- Single parents must be at least 25
- Married parents must both adopt the child
- All applicants must pass criminal and background checks
Although the immigration laws regarding foreign adoption are still governed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), prospective parents should make sure that the adoption agency they choose is a Department of State accredited agency.
The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption (Hague Convention) was established in 1993 to safeguard the international adoption process. This was done by establishing universal standards that all participating countries must adhere to.
Countries that participate in the Hague Convention offer adoptive parents additional supports that non-participating countries do not. For example:
- Fee transparency: Adoptive parents are given an upfront list of all fees and expenses
- Hague Adoption Certificate: Provided as proof that adoption met Hague Convention requirements
- VISA Eligibility: Certificate grants the right of child to enter the U.S.
However, adoption from a non-participating country should not necessarily be discounted. This is referred to as the “Orphan Process.”
It is important to know that what the orphan process lacks is certain assurances, like verification and preparation of medical records, which the Hague Convention requires. A skilled Philadelphia immigration lawyer can work to secure all necessary protections for potential adoptive parents.
Is My Adopted Child Automatically a Citizen?
USCIS will automatically grant a foreign-born adopted child U.S. citizenship under the following conditions:
- At least one adoptive parent is a United States citizen
- The adopted child is younger than 18
- The child is in the legal custody of the U.S. citizen parent and is currently living in the United States.
- Has lawful permanent resident status
Some foreign-born adopted children may need to wait until they have satisfied certain criteria before they automatically acquire citizenship. However, children adopted by a U.S. citizen are normally considered citizens once their adoption is final and they have lawfully entered the United States.
Philadelphia Immigration Attorneys at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC Assist Clients with Foreign Adoption
If you have more questions about the international adoption process or need assistance with a foreign adoption, contact an experienced Philadelphia immigration attorney at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC Our attorneys are experienced with all facets of immigration law and can help families through the complicated process of adoption and securing citizenship for their children. For a free consultation call 215-496-0690 or contact us online. We are conveniently located in Philadelphia and proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, the tri-state area, and nationally.