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The Orphan Process

The Orphan Process (Non-Hague)


This process only applies to countries that are not Hague Convention countries. Many requirements parallel those imposed by The Hague Process. It is as follows:

1. As with the Hague Process, the Orphan Process requires that only U.S. citizens who live in the U.S. can use the Orphan Process. Adoption must be by a married citizen and spouse or unmarried 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 age restriction. However in light of the federal government's approval of same sex marriages, they may suffice. An adopted child must be under 16 when you file or the birth sibling under 18 of the child you are also adopting.

2. Choose a Charleston immigration attorney versed in adoption process to consult you and advise you as to what procedure best fits your adoption goals.

3. Next, choose a state accredited Adoption Service Provider to assist in the Home Study requirements, Report to USCIS and the adoptive process. These requirements parallel those required in The Hague Process.

4. Then, apply to the USCIS, filing Form I-600A, with all accompanying documentation and filing fee of $720.00 plus pay $85.00 biometric (fingerprint) fee for each adult household member, all to determine parent suitability. This is called "advance processing" 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. Once approval is received, work with the state Adoption Service Provider to obtain a purposed adoption placement.

5. Coordinate with the foreign country's adoptive counterpart and travel to the foreign country to meet in person with your intended child, as well as paying any requisite fees and charges. 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 communicable diseases of public health significance.

5. Upon your return, file with the USCIS Form I-600 with all accompanying documentation.

6. Prove that the child is an orphan, which means you cannot adopt children from countries under Shar'ia law. The child must be without parents or a sole surviving parent who cannot care for it and who has released it for adoption or placed him/her in an orphanage. It is here that a myriad of problems arise, including children born out of wedlock, abandoned children, parents missing from civil war or just very poor third world record keeping all of which require familiarity with the laws of the foreign country and definitions of "legitimate" and "illegitimate." Often both a U.S. and foreign country attorney need to be retained.

7. Again, travel to the foreign country and adopt the child pursuant to their laws or receive proper guardianship papers to enable you to remove the child out of their country and obtain the child's country of origin passport.

8. Obtain an IR-3 (immediate relative) visa if both parents have physically met with the child. Otherwise, an IR-4 (immediate relative) visa to enter the U.S. Remember, a visa does not guarantee entry. Entry will be determined at the border. The entire process in some foreign countries can take up to one year or more.

9. An IR-4 visa will require a re-adoption under state law stateside.

10. Just as in countries which are Hague Convention participants, each country will have its certain rules, forms, procedures and nuances unique to it and you must accurately and completely meet each and every one of the obligations. Otherwise, there can be numerous delays and even denial. As we often say, "with immigration nothing is as simple as it first appears." Contact us today for our advice and services.

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