International adoption is a complex area that involves a combination of immigration
and adoption laws. Most foreign adoption cases involve orphan children. A child
is considered to be an orphan and eligible to be adopted if the child has no parents
or has only one parent who is unable to care for the child. The surviving parent
must be willing to release the child for immigration and adoption. This process
allows for adoption of an identified orphan in a foreign country or prospective
parents can "pre-qualify" for permission to adopt an orphan even if a child has
not been found or identified by the parents. If an orphan has been identified, an
I-600 petition is filed with Immigration seeking permission for the orphan to enter
the United States for the purpose of being adopted by the petitioning parents. If
an orphan has not been identified, an I-600A petition is filed. The I-600A pre-qualifies
parents desiring to adopt an orphan (The I-600A will speed processing of the I-600).
Once the I-600A is approved and an orphan is identified, an I-600 must be filed.
In both cases, the I-600 petition must be filed before the orphan's sixteenth birthday.
Once the I-600 petition is approved, the United States Consulate in the orphan's
home country is notified. Providing that the orphan's medical evaluation is satisfactory,
and the adoption conditions of the home country are satisfied, an immigrant visa
will generally be issued to the orphan. The actual adoption process may be concluded
either in the home country of the child before they enter the United States or in
the United States after entry.
At least one of the prospective parents seeking to adopt an orphan must be a U.S.
citizen and at least twenty-four years of age.
The required documents for an I-600 petition include but are not limited to the
- Proof of U.S. citizen for prospective parents
- Proof of marriage for a married couple applying for an orphan
- Orphan's birth certificate
- Death certificate for the child's parent(s)
- If one parent is deceased a letter from the surviving parent is required releasing
the child for adoption and immigration
- A completed home study of the prospective parents' home by a licensed adoption agency