Adopt a child abroad

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Adopting children from outside the United States can be a complicated process because the family must comply with the requirements outlined by the United States Department of Justice and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Additionally, the adoptive family must comply with the laws and requirements of the foreign country. Further, it is very important to be familiar with local customs, protocols and the culture of the foreign country. It is important to work with either an agency or an individual/attorney who is experienced in this area of adoption law. The USCIS does require a home study and has specific requirements for content and format. Currently, children from Asia, Korea, Latin America, South America, and Eastern Europe are being placed with loving adoptive families. It is sometimes necessary to travel to the country where the child resides in order to obtain a ruling from that country's court that the child is eligible for adoption and can leave for the United States.

States generally recognize as valid an adoption that has taken place in a foreign country and is accepted and recognized by the USCIS and the Department of Justice. If the foreign country's adoption decree contains an adoptive parents surname, the State Department of Health can usually issue a birth certificate upon request. The Department of Health does require proof of adoption, including a copy of the original birth certificate and adoption decree, an English translation of both, and the copy of the approval from the USCIS. Adoptive parents may also request the court to recognize the foreign country's adoption decree. A court usually must be involved to change the adopted child's name to the name given by the adoptive parent if that name is different from the adoptive parents surname or is different than the decree from the foreign country.

National Organizations

National Adoption Information Clearinghouse 330 C Street, SW Washington, DC 20447 Phone: (703) 352-3488 or (888) 251-0075 Fax: (703) 385-3206 Email:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833) USCIS website:

National Council For Adoption 225 N. Washington Street Alexandria, VA 22314-2561 Phone: (703) 299-6633 Fax: (703) 299-6004 Email:

Adoptive Families of America Minnesota-based nonprofit support organization. Includes bimonthly magazine and parenting resources. Adoptive Families magazine website:

The Child Welfare League 440 First Street, NW, Third Floor Washington, DC 20001-2085 Phone: 202/638-2952 Fax: 202/638-4004

National Council for Single Adoptive Parents Single adoptive parents help. Phone (toll-free): 1-888-490-4600

National Adoption Center 1500 Walnut St. Suite 701 Philadelphia, PA 19102 Phone: 1-800-TO-ADOPT Email:

American Academy of Adoption Attorneys Resource to locate an adoption attorney. Box 33053 Washington, D.C. 20033-0053 Phone: (202) 832-2222 AAAA website:

National Resource Center for Special Needs Adoption 16250 Northland Dr. Suite 120 Southfield, MI 48075 Phone: 248-443-0306 Fax: 248-443-7099 Email:

The North America Council on Adoptable Children 970 Raymond Ave. Suite 106 St. Paul. MN 55114-1149 Phone: 651-644-3036 Fax: 651-644-9848 Email: