6 Questions You Have About International Adoption in NY & NJ
The international adoption process is very different, and vastly more complex, than adopting a child from within the United States. While specific legal requirements vary by country, adoptive parents must comply with the legal requirements of both the United States and the country where the child resides. Before embarking on the international adoption process, you should carefully explore the qualifications of the professionals you’ll be working with. You should also reflect on whether raising a child from a different race or culture will be best for you and — most importantly — for the child. Without following the correct legal steps required for an international adoption, the child may be unable to enter the country (even if the adoption was successfully completed abroad) and/or the child may confront serious obstacles to becoming a legal permanent resident or U.S. citizen.
At Rumbold & Seidelman, we have the experience to advise you regarding the international adoption process. We can also assist by petitioning for either a readoption or recognition of foreign adoption proceeding in New York and New Jersey. We’re available to answer your individual questions about international adoption if you give us a call at 914-779-1050. Before beginning your intercountry adoption, you should know some important things about the process.
1. What is an international adoption?
International adoption is the legal process through which a citizen or habitual resident of one country adopts, or obtains legal guardianship of, a child from a different country utilizing the legal system of the country where the child resides. The vast majority of international adoptions are accomplished through agencies.
2. How do I adopt a child from another country?
When you’re adopting a child from another country, you will likely follow “The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption” (typically referred to as the Hague Convention), which is an international agreement setting forth rules and regulations governing the international adoption process. The United States signed the Hague convention in 1994, and it went into effect in the United States on April 1, 2008. The purpose of the Hague Convention is to protect internationally adopted children and to set standards for all intercountry adoptions. These standards also provide greater protection to adopting parents than if they were to adopt from a non-Hague country. Here’s a list of countries that require adoptive parents to follow Hague regulations https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/Intercountry-Adoption/Adoption-Process/understanding-the-hague-convention/convention-countries.html.
In any international adoption, adoptive parents must satisfy the eligibility requirements of the country of the adoptive child’s origin as well as the requirements of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Countries vary significantly with regard to the age of children waiting to be adopted and the quality of the medical care provided to those children. There is also considerable variation among countries with respect to the required characteristics of adoptive parents as they relate to age, marital status and health history.
Rumbold & Seidelman can answer questions you may have about how to adopt a child from another country. We can also direct you to international adoption agencies in New York and New Jersey who have the expertise to guide you through the intercountry adoption process.
3. How do I start the USCIS adoption process?
For most people, the first step in the international adoption process is the selection of an international adoption agency. If you choose to work with Rumbold & Seidelman, we can help you find an international adoption agency that’s right for you.
If the country you will be adopting from has signed the Hague Convention, you are only permitted to work with a Hague-accredited adoption agency. Although private placement adoption is permissible in some non-Hague countries, you must still work with an accredited or approved Adoption Service Provider to perform your home study report and guide you through the adoption process. Be advised that few attorneys have sufficient expertise to guide their clients through the complex process of a private placement international adoption. Here’s a link to the list of Hague-accredited adoption entities here.
Once you choose an international adoption agency, those professionals can help you decide which country to adopt from and the specific legal requirements imposed by that country. This will also determine the cost of your international adoption, which on average runs $20,000 to $50,000 (not including travel expenses).
4. What is readoption in New York and New Jersey?
Depending on how your international adoption was completed, you may be required to readopt your child in New York or New Jersey to ensure that your child obtains United States citizenship. Readoption is the legal process whereby a state court in the United States, with jurisdiction over adoption matters, enters an order of adoption in favor of adoptive parents who previously adopted their child outside of the United States.
Please note that, except under special circumstances, if the adoptive child entered the United States on an IR-4 or IH-4 Visa, the child will not be eligible for automatic United States citizenship unless the adoptive parent(s) obtain an order of readoption before the child’s 18th birthday. Once the child is readopted, he or she will automatically become a U.S. Citizen and a state-issued certificate of birth data will be issued by the state vital records office. You can also change your child’s name as part of the readoption process.
5. Am I required to register my foreign adoption in New York or New Jersey?
Although adoptive parents are not legally required to readopt an internationally adopted child who entered the United States on an IR-3 or IH-3 visa, they may wish to obtain an order from their state court recognizing the foreign judgment. The simple process of registering the foreign adoption will enable you to obtain a judgement of adoption from your court rather than your having to rely on the foreign Order of Adoption.
This may be helpful to those families adopting from non-Hague countries, where it may be more difficult to obtain a replacement judgment of adoption, and this also ensures that the foreign adoption decree will be legally recognized throughout the United States. The child’s name may also be changed as part of the registration of foreign adoption process.
We can help you determine whether it’s a good idea for you to obtain a Recognition of Foreign Adoption Order from a New York or New Jersey court based on your individual international adoption circumstances.
6. What other things should we be aware of with regard to international adoption in NY or NJ?
International adoption comes with its own unique challenges. For example, the cost of an international adoption will vary based on the country you adopt from and, for that reason, you may not know the cost of your adoption at the start of that process. Travel costs can be very expensive, and multiple trips abroad may be required. In addition, a child adopted from another country may be older and have emotional or developmental challenges as a result of neglect, abuse or time spent in an institution. It will likely take time for the child to adjust to their new environment, not to mention learn a new language. An international adoption requires patience but also a recognition of how to preserve your child’s original heritage and culture. You must also be prepared to accept the fact that you will have either no, or very limited, contact with birth parents and you may receive only limited information as to your child’s medical history. Before deciding on intercountry adoption, do plenty of research to make sure it’s right for you.
If you’re interested in an international adoption in New York or New Jersey, our law offices can:
- Assist you to locate an agency which is a good match for you and your needs.
- Refer you to physicians with the specific expertise to advise you regarding the medical risks associated with any proposed placement.
- Compile, prepare and submit all documents required for a completed readoption.
- Compile, prepare and submit all documents required for a completed registration of foreign adoption.
- Obtain a certificate of birth data from your state vital records office (which your child will use in lieu of the foreign birth certificate)