Adopting a Foreign-Born Orphan in the US

Adopting a Foreign-Born Orphan in the U.S

Adopting a child can be a long and expensive process. However, a successful adoption will be highly rewarding for both you and the new member of your family.

If you are adopting an orphan from a foreign country, the process will obviously be more complicated as you will be dealing with both, the US laws and the laws of the child’s country.

Legal definition of an orphan

Any child who does not have any parents because they have either died or disappeared would be considered to be an orphan, under the US immigration law. Further, children can also be considered as orphans if their parents were incapable of looking after them and released them for emigration and adoption.

People seeking to adopt orphaned children can either adopt from their home country or from a foreign country. To adopt a foreign-born child there certain additional legal steps involved, which includes filing for an immigration petition.

Petition for adopting a foreign-born orphan

1. When should the petition be filed?

An immigration petition must be filed before the child’s 16th birthday. However, there are other gateways where you can file an orphan petition until the child is 18 years of age.

2. Who is eligible?

Any US citizen, including unmarried citizens, who are at least 25 years of age may file the petition. The spouse of the petitioner is not required to be a US citizen. However, they must have legal status to reside in the US.

3. How to apply?

You must file USCIS Form1-600A. This is the application for advance processing of all the petitions. You have to do this even before you identify the foreign orphan to adopt.

4. How to get through this process faster?

You can start the process before you identify the foreign orphan you want to adopt. If you have already completed the USCIS form, you will be able to complete the adoption process much quickly once you start the adoption process itself.

USCIS Form – Information required

  • Proof of US citizenship
  • Marital status
  • Living in the US
  • Spouses US citizenship or legal immigration status

The Home study process details

  • Proof of state  adoption requirements
  • Fee for the application
  • Note, every member of the household will be fingerprinted by the USCIF for the application.

Information USCIS will need about the child

  • Birth certificate. If this is unavailable, they will need evidence of the child’s identity and its age.
  • Evidence that the child is defined as an orphan.
  • If applicable, a final decree of adoption.
  • Evidence of legal custody of the child for adoption and emigration, if applicable.
  • Pre-adoption requirements compliance, if applicable.

Adopting a child from a country that is in a state of chaos

If you wish to adopt a child who is living in a country with serious political or social problems, it could be difficult to complete the adoption process requirements in the child’s home country. In these circumstances, the collating of documents can be extremely difficult. Further, a major obstacle can be determining whether the child truly is an orphan. It could be that simply due to the turmoil, that child has lost contact with his parents and believes them to be dead.

Will the foreign orphan automatically become an American citizen?

When the orphan enters the US, he/she will do so on an Immigrant Visa. At that point, their residence in the US is lawful. However, it does not make them automatically a US citizen.

As you can see, the requirements for adopting a foreign child are far more complicated than adopting a child in the US. However, do not let this stop you from undertaking this task. Although there will be many hurdles on the way, the rewards will be great.

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