Q: Can I adopt a child from any country in the world?
A: Countries experiencing social or political upheaval
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) shares your concern for the children of countries experiencing social or political upheaval. However, adopting children from a country in crisis is usually not a feasible way to assist them. There are a number of reasons for this.
During times of crisis, it can be exceptionally difficult to fulfill the child’s country of origin’s legal requirements for adoption. This is especially true when civil authority breaks down. It can also be very difficult to gather the necessary documents to fulfill the legal requirements of United States immigration laws. Also, in a crisis situation, it can be extremely difficult to determine if the child whose parents are missing are truly orphans. It is not uncommon in a hostile situation for parents to send their children out of the area, or to become separated during an evacuation. Even when children have been truly orphaned or abandoned by their parents, they are often taken in by other relatives. International conventions place a strong preference on keeping children within extended family units and within their culture as opposed to uprooting the child completely. Finally, corruption and lawlessness are more likely in such countries. This increases the risk that you may be provided with false documents or otherwise taken advantage of as you attempt to adopt a child. For these reasons, individuals considering adoption from a country in crisis should proceed with extreme caution. They should review the Department of State’s web site and contact their local USCIS office early in the process to avoid disappointment due to not being able to complete the adoption and emigration of a child.
Countries that do not permit adoption
Some countries do not permit adoption and will grant legal custody only so long as the applicant for custody resides in that country. This is often true in countries that adhere to Islamic law. Children from such countries do not qualify for immigrant status in the U.S.
Q: Where do I obtain information on adopting abroad?
A: The Office of Children’s Issues maintains a file of country-specific adoption information sheets. In addition, adoption agencies, parent support groups, and adoption magazines and newsletters can provide a wealth of information. Talking with families who have adopted children and specialists in adoption issues can be a helpful measure to prepare for the issues involved with an international adoption.
Q: How can I check the credentials of an adoption provider?
A: There are several ways to investigate the credentials of an adoption provider before engaging in their services. It is helpful to talk with other families or individuals in your adoptive support group who have had prior experience with the agency, attorney, or individual you are planning to select. The Better Business Bureau may be able to advise you if there has been a negative report about a business, but they would not necessarily have information concerning individuals claiming to be adoption experts. The adoption section of the state social services office and the state attorney general’s office can usually be of assistance. Finally, ask for references and check them thoroughly.
Q: How should I approach the adoption process abroad?
A: Adoption can be an emotionally stressful process, particularly while facing the additional challenges of adjusting to another culture. Gathering information on the culture of the country prior to travel and even setting aside time for sightseeing can reduce stress and make the experience more positive. It could also provide invaluable information and experiences to relate to your child in later years. If you become ill, the U.S. embassy or consulate can provide you with a list of local attorneys and hospitals to assist if necessary.
Q: How should I obtain multiple copies of foreign documents?
A: Before you depart the country with your child, you should be sure to obtain several duplicate certified/authenticated copies of your child’s foreign birth certificate, adoption decree, and any other relevant documents. Often these documents are necessary at home, and it can be difficult to obtain copies from the foreign government later.
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Q: I have adopted my child and brought him/her into the country. Is there any reason for me to be fingerprinted again?
A: No, there is no need for you to be fingerprinted again. Your application for a specific child was approved. If you file another I-600A application to adopt another child, you would need to be fingerprinted at that time.
Q: I filed an I-600A and an I-600 application in your office. The I-600A was approved 12 months ago, and the I-600 was approved 10 months ago. My child will be brought into the U.S. in 4 months. My fingerprints, taken when I filed my I-600A, expire in 3 months. Should I be reprinted?
A: No, you do not need to be printed again. You filed both your I-600A and your I-600, and you got approvals on both within the 15 months that your prints were valid.
Q: My I-600A was approved 12 months ago, and I had my fingerprints taken when I filed my application. That would mean that my prints will expire in 3 months. I plan to bring my child home in 2 months and want to file an I-600 then. Should I be printed again, just in case?
A: Yes, if you will be filing an I-600 application within 30 days of your fingerprint expiration, it is recommended that you be fingerprinted again.
Q: I brought in my I-600A application 6 months ago, and it was approved 3 months ago. If I don’t know when I will be filing my I-600, should I be re-fingerprinted so that I can be assured that my prints will remain valid for the duration of my approval?
A: No, it is best if you wait until you are certain that your prints will expire before having them taken again. Have your prints taken again a month before expiration.
Q: If I do need to be re-fingerprinted, will I need to pay the fee?
A: Yes, if you need to be re-fingerprinted you will need to pay the $70 fingerprinting fee for each adult member of your household being re-fingerprinted. Please note, the fingerprint fee cannot be paid at the Application Support Center (ASC) where your fingerprints are taken. The fingerprint fee must be paid at your local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office. When you go to the USCIS office to be scheduled for fingerprints, bring your I-171H approval notice with you. You will then be provided with a referral letter/appointment notice giving you the date, time and location to appear for fingerprinting.
Q: How will I know that my fingerprint files are about to expire?
A: Your fingerprint clearances files expire 15 months after the date the USCIS receives a response from the FBI. This is approximately 15 months from the date that you were fingerprinted.
Q: I am planning to travel overseas to file my I-600. Can I wait and be fingerprinted at the Embassy or Consulate?
A: Yes, you can. You should be aware that the fingerprint clearance process for persons fingerprinted overseas takes much more time than it does for those fingerprinted in the United States. If your fingerprints have expired, or will expire before your date of travel, you should contact your local USCIS office to be fingerprinted again so that your fingerprints can be processed sooner.
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