You have made the decision to adopt and bring a child into your loving home. You plan on adopting your child from a country outside the United States. Now what do you have to do?

If your child comes from a country part of the Hague Adoption Convention, there are specific steps you will take in the adoption process. The Hague Convention is a treaty to decrease abduction and human trafficking, so you will work with the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to qualify for adoption. The steps for adopting under the Hague Convention include:

  • Finding an adoption service provider – You must find an adoption service provider approved or accredited to handle Hague Convention adoptions. This service will help you find your child while making sure that the adoption follows all necessary rules and procedures.
  • Applying for approval – You must submit an application to USCIS before going through with the adoption. An approved inspector also has to approve a home study on your house.
  • Finding your child – Your adoption service provider will contact the other country to find a child needing adoption. Each country in the Hague Convention has a specific government branch that handles international adoptions, called the central adoption authority. The central adoption authority sends a referral to your adoption service provider with all relevant information about the child. You have the chance to accept or deny the referral.
  • Confirm your new child can immigrate to the U.S. – After you approve the referral, the State Department will look over your application to make sure that the child can legally immigrate to the U.S. with the adoption.
  • Adopt your new child – After approval of your application, you can officially adopt your child based on the laws of your child’s home country.
  • Apply for a visa – Now that you have officially adopted, you still have to apply for an immigrant visa for your child. This requires you to get a birth certificate or a passport from your child’s original country.

The Hague Adoption Convention makes abductions and human trafficking difficult. But this can make your adoption difficult as well. Following all the rules laid out by the Hague Adoption Convention can be extremely complex. An attorney familiar with international adoptions can help you make sure your adoption goes through.

An adoption is an exciting, life-changing event. While you may have to jump through a few hurdles, having your new child in your life will make it all worth it.