The Hague Process
Adopting Under the Hague Process
Each country that is a party to the Hague (SWITZERLAND) Convention must have an officially designated Central Authority to ensure that their adoption process is safeguarded. For the U.S. it is the Department of State. As a primer for the adoptive parents:
1. First, Only U.S. citizens who live in the U.S. can use The Hague Process. Adoption must be by a married citizen and spouse or unmarried person at least 25 years old. Adoptions by homosexuals are permitted, but it is not clear whether same sex marriage will suffice as being a married couple without an age restriction. With same sex marriage now being recognized by the U.S. government, it should. An adopted child, who is generally from an orphanage, must be under 16 when you file or the birth sibling under 18 of a child you are also adopting.
2. Then, parents choose a Charleston immigration attorney versed in adoption processes to consult you and advise you as to what procedure best fits your adoption goals. We have experience in this regard.
3. Next, parents choose a Hague Convention accredited Adoption Service Provider (ASP), accredited or approved by the Council on Accreditation (COA) or Colorado Department of Human Services. They cannot, nor are they legally trained to give out legal advice. However, they will assist you, as parents in:
- Identifying a child for adoption who meets criteria and definition of a Convention adoptee and arranging for the adoption
- Getting termination of the legal parents' rights
- Do the Home Study and prepare the Report
- Obtaining the background check on the child
- Monitor the case and assist as needed until the case is finished, and
- Assume custody of the child if there is a disruption, for any reason
4. The Home Study will involve at least one home visit and interview with both parents and all members of the household. Information will be collected and evaluated regarding:
- Home facilities
- Financial abilities
- Medical history
- Social environment
- Records of domestic violence or sexual assault
- Criminal history
- Drugs and alcohol abuse
- Child abuse, and
- Reasons for the adoption
Further, discussion will be about the mental, physical, ethnic, religious, social characteristics and special needs of the adoptive child. The Report must conform to the same state standards as for a domestic adoption, check and report on Child Abuse Registries listings, note rehabilitation when relevant, and address all Hague Convention specific requirements as well as provide updates when needed to the USCIS.
5. As parents, you will attend 10 hours of parent education, if required.
6. Then, parents must apply to the USCIS, filing form I-800A, with all accompanying documentation to determine parent suitability. This is called "determination of suitability" and allows the basic part of the process to be approved without a particular child in mind. It generally takes three to six months to process. Later, only the part of the process relating to the actual child still needs to be processed. Once approval is received, parents work with the Adoption Service Provider to obtain a purposed adoption placement.
7. Coordination with the Foreign Adoption Central Authority and travel to the foreign country and visually meet with your intended child is next. This will include medical and physical reports on the child and a host of other documents and procedures. Some illnesses will make the child inadmissible such as if the child has a communicable disease of public health significance.
8. Upon your return file with the USCIS your Petition for Adoption, form I-800, with all accompanying documentation, pay the current filing fee of $720.00, plus pay an $85.00 biometric (fingerprint) fee for each adult household member.
9. Lastly, hopefully receive approval finding the child eligible to immigrate to the U.S. based upon the purposed adoption.
10. Again, travel to the foreign country and adoption of the child pursuant to the foreign county's laws and receive a Hague Adoption Certificate declaring that the adoption meets the Hague convention requirements and obtain the child's foreign country of origin passport is necessary.
11. Obtaining an immigrant IR-3 (immediate relative) visa, if both parents have physically met with the child is also needed. Otherwise an IR-4 (immediate relative) visa to enter the U.S. is needed. Remember, a visa does not guarantee U.S. entry. Entry will be determined at the border. The entire process of international adoption in some countries can take up to one year or more.
12. An IR-4 visa will require a re-adoption under state law stateside.
Why Hire a Charleston International Adoption Lawyer
Remember, each country has its certain rules, forms, procedures and nuances unique to it and you must accurately and completely meet each and every one of these obligations. Otherwise there can be numerous delays, a great loss of many fees and expenses and even denial. As we like to say, "with immigration nothing is as simple as it first appears." This is why we encourage you to contact a Charleston Immigration Attorney to answer your questions and assist you in processing these applications.