4 Considerations if You Are Seeking to Adopt From Outside of the U.S.
Many Florida couples and individuals choose international adoption when they want to complete or grow their family. The reasons are as unique as the prospective parents themselves. Perhaps you were born in a particular country and you want to welcome a child with the same heritage as yours. Or maybe you know people who successfully adopted children born overseas, inspiring your interest to do the same.
Whatever your reason for wanting to open your home and your heart to a child from abroad, there are four important factors you should consider when it comes to international adoptions.
1. Adoption laws vary from one country to the next
Once you decide where you want to adopt, your next step should be researching that country’s adoption laws to determine whether you are eligible to adopt there. Many countries, for example, have a minimum and maximum age limit for adoptive parents. Others may require you to be married a minimum amount of time and will refuse applications from single parents. Some countries even indicate a specific minimum household income.
2. Same-sex couples may experience challenges
Many countries do not allow gay adoption from foreigners, which can make the adoption process more challenging although not impossible. Nations that currently permit children to be adopted by gay individuals or same-sex couples include:
Colombia: In November 2015, the Constitutional Court of Colombia lifted the country’s ban of gay domestic adoption. The ruling soon extended to international adoptions.
Brazil: LGBT couples and singles are allowed to adopt provided they are at least 25 years old and six years older than the child. If you and your same-sex partner wish to adopt, both of you must travel to Brazil for the local process, which typically takes 34-45 days.
Mexico: Mexico City and certain states, such as Baja California, Chihuahua, and Veracruz, allow international same-sex adoption, provided the adoptive couple has been married for at least two years.
Philippines: Philippine law doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, so technically a gay couple can’t adopt, but individuals can. Once the child is in the U.S., the other parent can complete a second parent or stepparent adoption.
3. The Hague Adoption Convention may apply
The Hague Adoption Convention is a treaty among over 50 member countries dedicated to preventing fraud and corruption in international adoptions. It applies to the adoption of a child resident in a Hague country by parents who reside in another Hague country and requires certain protocols and procedures to be followed. In the U.S., only accredited adoption service providers or agencies under their supervision may facilitate a Hague Convention adoption, which includes an international adoption home study consisting of:
Health statements confirming that you are physically and mentally well enough to take care of a child
Examination of your financial situation
Federal and state background checks for everyone in your home aged 12 and over
References from friends, family, and acquaintances
Pre- and post-placement home visits
The adoption department of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will also need to confirm your eligibility after the international home study is complete.
4. You may have to legally finalize the adoption in the U.S.
If your child was provided with an IH-4 or an IR-4 visa, the adoption will have to be finalized in a Florida circuit court. If the adoption was completed in the child’s home country they will receive an IH-3 (Hague country) or an IR-3 (non-Hague country) visa. Although in this instance the adoption is technically complete, it is recommended that you re-adopt once you return to Florida. This extra step will ensure that your child’s status as an American citizen is protected and made permanent. Once it is complete you will be able to apply for an amended birth certificate and Social Security card for the child.
Jarbath Pena Law Group has represented several U.S. individuals and couples during their international adoptions. Having helped clients of different backgrounds adopt from a wide variety of countries, we are excited at the thought of helping you expand your family. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact us.