International Adoption

International AdoptionAs of April 1, 2008, the US immigration rules on international adoptions changed dramatically as the US joined the Hague Convention on Intracountry adoptions. The US Department of State has since launched a new website,, that is intended to act as a central resource for adoptive parents, adoption agencies and others involved in the adoption process.




Hague Convention-Subject Adoptions

If US citizens are adopting a child from a country that has also signed the Hague Convention, then the Form I-800 process is required to process US immigration status for the child. This process is complicated and it is extremely important to work with a Hague approved provider from the very start of a case.

The following is a rough guide to the Hague Convention process for seeking Immigration Status for an adopted child in the United States. This guide is intended to show a general path only, NOT as legal advice as there are many important details and options that could not be captured in a simple timeline:

  1. US prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) obtain a homestudy through an accredited agency- or certified under 22 CFR 96 and 8 CFR 204.301 that set the rules for Hague accredited home study providers).
  2. PAPs file Form I-800A. Before I-800A approval, written findings by Central Authority and birth parent consents, PAPs cannot have any form of contact with the child's parents, legal custodian, or other individual or entity who was responsible for the child's care.
  3. I-800A approval notice, home study and supporting documents are sent to Central Authority.
  4. The Central Authority in the sending country refers a child to the PAPs, with medical and social worker reports and its written findings about the status of the child, including that it is in the child's best interest to be adopted internationally, that all consents have been freely given after appropriate counseling, and that no money or other kind of "inducement" have passed to get the consents.  Consent to adoption must be obtained only by agency or individual authorized under the Hague Convention, Section 404(a)(1) and (c) of the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-279, 114 Stat. 825; 22 CFR 96.2.
  5. PAPs accept the referral.
  6. PAPs file I-800.
  7. I-800 is provisionally approved, and forwarded to US consular post near the child's residence.
  8. PAPs file visa application for the child. 
  9. US consular officer provides provisional approval of I-800, and transmits "Article Five letter" to the Central Authority.
  10. The adoption can then be finalized.
  11. PAPs take the final adoption decree back to the consular officer for final approval of the I-800 and green card.
  12. Child enters the US, and automatically becomes a US citizen under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000


Adoptions Not Subject to the Hague Convention

If the sending country (the child's country of origin) has not signed the Hague Convention, then the the Form I-600 orphan adoption and Immediate Relative petition for adopted child should be followed. Each of these categories requires careful analysis, and we strongly recommend a consultation with an attorney or accredited agency for anyone who is considering an international adoption.

I-600 Resources

•   Definition of "orphan" for I-600 peititition

•   List of agencies that may serve as Primary Provider for I-600 for an identified adoption


Our Experience


Our in-firm adoption team is headed by Attorney Dan Berger, who specializes in complex international adoption cases. He is a frequent author, speaker, and authority on this topic, and is an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.


Help Finding Accredited Adoption Agencies in Specific Countries



Legislation in Congress


HR 5285

On May 19, 2016, HR 5285 was introduced in Congress by Rep. Marino (R-PA), Rep. Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. McDermott (D-WA) and Rep. Higgins (D-NY).

HR 5285 calls for changes to the Department of State's Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices so it includes violations of unparented children's rights, specifically the unnecessary holding of children in institutions and associated denial of timely access to domestic and international adoption.

This bill is supported by adoption advocates, including the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. 


S. 2275

This bill was introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) introduced this bill to make the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 retroactive. It would extend citizenship to adult green card holders who received permanent residency through adoption but never became naturalized. 



Further Reading


  • The International Adoption Sourcebook (Dan H. Berger, Editor-in-Chief) is a comprehensive resource covering international adoption issues. It provides guidance on intercountry adoption, habitual residency, visas for children, U.S. citizenship for adopted children, immigration alternatives to adoption, and more.











  • DNA and the Search for Answers, Adoption Today. Discussing DNA testing for adoption, seeking biological relatives, ethnicity and within US immigration law



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