What’s an International Adoption in California?
International adoption, also sometimes called intercountry adoption, is a form of adoption that involves two countries—yours and the country you want to adopt from. Many children overseas long for a home, and bringing them to the US to be part of your adoptive family constitutes international adoption.
International adoption requires proper research as you commune with two countries, and policies tend to change. Stay updated because even trivial issues like travel bans can derail your adoption process. Nonetheless, you will do fine with the right child-placing agency and legal assistance.
Please note that international adoptive parents in California can expect to wait between 6 months to 2 years for their foreign adoption to finalize. The process duration also depends on the adoptee’s country. If your case is especially complex, you may need an adoption professional or legal advisor to keep you abreast of this information.
What to Know Before You Opt for International Adoption
Becoming the adoptive parents of a needy child from a different country of origin can be incredibly gratifying. However, as with domestic adoption, international adoption has its criteria. Here is what you should know before attempting to become a legal parent through intercountry adoption services:
- If you are single, you have to be a US citizen. If you are married, either you or your spouse have to be a US citizen.
- You have to pass the federal and state fingerprint clearances and the state’s child abuse index check. If you have a felony record, the government might prohibit you from adopting internationally.
- You have to be at least 25 years old, and the age gap between you and your adoptee can’t be more than 45 years. See more on this on the US child welfare site.
- Most children placed for international adoption aren’t infants. Hence, you are more likely to be matched with older children/toddlers than infants. This sometimes comes as a surprise to would-be parents hoping an international adoption agency can connect parents with more infants than a US licensed adoption agency or foster care can.
- You must pass the requirements of the Hague convention laws, the State of California, USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), and your to-be adoptee’s foreign country.
The above requirements aren’t set in stone; they can change depending on the circumstance. Nonetheless, this list summarizes the criteria for adoption.
How to Adopt a Child Internationally in California
Since countries involved with international adoption don’t work on the same principles, fees and processes might differ from foreign country to foreign country. Hence, there is a unique take on how to adopt internationally for each country. That being said, here are the basic steps to take to adopt a child internationally as a citizen of California.
1. Select the Country From Which You Want to Adopt
Many countries are open to international adoption. Your first step is to pick the country you think is best for your family. Before you decide, note the following:
- The country’s eligibility requirements—check on the state travel site
- Travel expenses
- Travel bans that may prevent you from picking up the child from the birth parent
- The cost of international adoption in your proposed adoptee’s county
- The cultural inclination of the child—for the child’s benefit, many people integrate their child’s culture into their home after the adoption journey is complete.
2. Find a Child-Placing Program
After selecting the country you wish to adopt from, you have to look for international agencies with programs in your chosen country. For instance, if India is the country you wish to adopt from, look for a child placement agency that includes an India adoption program.
What to consider when choosing a child-placing program:
- What is their cost?
- What foreign country or countries do they work with—does it include the one you want to adopt from?
- Are they Hague accredited?
Once you’ve done your research for your type of adoption, pick the best option to fulfill your dream of international adoption.
3. Finalize the International Home Study in California
Like other forms of adoption, you must complete a home study before adopting internationally. A home study is a background check that ensures you are fit to assume parental rights in your current state. The home study process ensures the adoptee has a safe placement with a permanent family. The duration of a home study could span three months or more.
4. Complete Your Adoption Dossier
An adoption dossier is a pile of documents that includes your identification, home study, and other documents. Your adoption specialist can assist you in filling your dossier by telling you what it should have. If you prefer to save some money on expensive adoption fees, you can use a legal document prep service like A People’s Choice to help with this step.
When you are finished with the dossier, send it to the California Secretary of State to authenticate and apostille it. After that, your dossier goes to your child-placing agency, then to the adoption authorities in the child’s country to be approved.
5. Gain Approval From USCIS
To be eligible for international adoption in California, you must be approved by the USCIS. If the adoptee is from a Hague Convention country, you file Form 1-800A. If the adoptee’s country is not a Hague Convention country, you file Form 1-600A.
Once the USCIS verifies your eligibility, they send the needed documents to the country from which you want to adopt.
6. Wait for the Child’s Referral
After completing the process of seeking approval from USCIS and meeting the child’s country requirements, your adoption opportunity has almost come to fruition. The next step is for the hopeful parents to get matched.
The matching process differs with various types of adoption agencies. The child’s referral usually contains the following:
- The name, picture, and date of birth of the child.
- Why the child has been matched with you
- The psychological and social information of the child
- Medical records for the child
You can either accept or reject the referral if you think you can’t meet the child’s needs. If you accept the referral, more paperwork ensues to get the adoption opportunity finalized and begin the application for their visa.
7. Travel to Get Your Adoptee
When you arrive in your adoptee’s country, you have to stay for one to four weeks depending on the birth country. The stay is necessary to allow time for visa applications and other adoption-related issues. After getting your child’s visa, you return to California with your kid and finalize the adoption.
8. Complete Your Adoption
The final step of international adoption in California is re-adoption or finalization. While legal requirements dictate that finalization must occur, re-adoption isn’t also required.
Re-adoption is the California state reviewing your international adoption. If your process has followed their law, the state issues a new adoption decree and a birth certificate for eligible children. Re-adoption often has to happen if you received an IH-4 or IR-4 visa for your adoptee.
How Much Does International Adoption Cost?
International adoption costs lie in various factors like agency fees, and comprehensive services you enlisted, the study fee, travel costs, post-placement services, and the country from which you adopt.
Nonetheless, international adoption is not cheap. It costs between $15,000-$40,000. You have to pay for each step you take to adopt intentionally.
Keep in mind that costs can vary widely depending on the care agency. For precise info, be sure to do your research before picking an agency for your intercountry adoption process.
International Adoption in California with A People’s Choice
We’ve got more good news for your wallet: you don’t need to hire an attorney to enter international adoption proceedings. If your documents are sorted, you are good to go. That being said, international adoption paperwork is not easy; after all, you’re dealing with two countries. The documents are integral to this legal process, and a miscalculation or misplaced document can send multiple days of hard work to dust.
A People’s Choice can help with document preparation for your adoption. We ensure you get the proper screening of your documents while hustling through your adoption process. With a team of legal document preparers ready to assist you and ensure you, you can get through international adoption procedures with peace of mind. Contact us today to get started!