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Unraveling the Complexity of International Adoptions for U.S. Prospective Parents

Unfortunately, International Adoptions can become a complicated maze that discourages many U.S. prospective parents,  and reduces the number of international children being provided a loving secure home.  Consequently, our law firm has formed alliances with International Adoption attorneys who are certified and experienced in countries across the globe to facilitate the 3 methods of international adoptions discussed briefly below.

We work as a team to coordinate legal representation in the United States, foreign country, and when needed, work with the Central Government Authority in the respective country to ensure that the adoption process moves forward without avoidable delays.  Likewise, we work closely with congressional representatives if needed to resolve any breakdown in international laws between the U.S. and foreign country that may halt the adoption process.

Another reason that international adoptions breakdown is that U.S. parents seeking  to adopt a child overseas move too quickly in their excitement without  fully understanding the steps involved.  Missing a step may cause the entire adoption to voided.

Below, this article gives an overview of the three types of U.S. international adoptions, and basic mistakes we see that complicate the adoption process.  Also, we briefly discuss common mistakes, and unveil “why all the regulations” surrounding the international adoption process


3 Types of Adoptions

The three ways U.S. parents adopt children from another country is as follows:  1) a Family petition based on I-130; 2) Hague Petition I-800/800A, and 3) Orphan Petition I-600/I-600A.

The first option requires that the U.S. Parent have had custody of their adopted child for at least two years as one of the basic requirements.   Also, the child must be under the age of 16 at the time of adoption, or under 18 if sibling under 16. The child’s parents may be alive, but they must consent to the termination of their parental rights toward the child.  Also, a lawful permanent resident may petition for an adopted child. If a child enters without inspection (EWI) in to the United States, it is still possible to utilize this process of adoption.

Another option is adopting from a Hague Convention country. If a country is subject to the Hague Convention, the I-800/800A process is mandatory. The Department of State website (“DOS) lists all countries subject to Hague.  The requirements are very stringent and require an Accredited Hague Service Provider along with accredited attorney.  The I-800 includes a Home study which meets the requirements for Hague, different from other Home Studies available.  Various Articles must be satisfied by the DOS before the adoption can be completed. Here, however, the two year custody requirement is not required under Hague.

The final option is the Orphan Petition. This requires filing of an I-600A with optional I-600.  Here the child must truly be an “orphan”. Orphan is defined as a child who has suffered the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents, or for whom the sole or surviving parent is incapable of providing the proper care and has in writing irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption. The child also has to be under the age of 16 at the time of filing, or under 18 if sibling under 16.  The U.S. Petitioner parent must be a U.S. citizen, and the spouse must be at least a U.S. lawful permanent. A two year legal custody and residency requirement is not required with this form of adoption.  A Central Government Authority is not involved in this form of adoption.

Overall, it is important to consultant with an Immigration attorney as a first step to the adoption processes to ensure the best way to adopt and bring one’s adopted child home to the U.S.

Common Mistakes

The most common mistakes we see made in the adoption process include the following:

  • Prospective U.S. Parent is originally from the country in which they seek to adopt, and therefore they go home adopt and then try to return to the U.S. with their newly adopted child.
  • Filing an I-600 where an I-800 is required.
  • Filing an I-130 and not understanding the mandatory two year custody requirement and joint residency requirement with the child
  • Making contact with the biological parents.


Human Trafficking is ultimately the theme and reason behind the complexity of the laws. It is well documented that children suffer when governments across the globe do not come together to fight against trafficking.  We hope to see the right balance struck as time progresses where international adoptions by U.S. parents increase while Human trafficking is halted forever.

If you have questions or require a consultation you may email us at info@scottcclaw.com or call us at our telephone numbers conveniently listed at www.scottcclaw.com.

ScottMond Law Firm


Members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”)



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