International adoption, or intercountry adoption, is the adoption of a child from another country. These children are usually adopted from orphanages and are eligible for adoption because their birth parents were unable to care for them due to financial, legal, or emotional issues. These children are deemed orphans. International policies have led to a decrease in international adoptions in recent years, but it is still an entirely viable option for hopeful parents.
International adoption is governed by the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Convention) is an international agreement to safeguard intercountry adoptions. Concluded on May 29, 1993 in The Hague, the Netherlands, the Convention establishes international standards of practices for intercountry adoptions.
Catholic Charities is a Hague Accredited Adoption agency ready to assist you with the adoption process from a country of your choosing. Catholic Charities is a Supervised Provider and will work with you on completing a home study which will meet the requirements of the State of Wisconsin, USCIS, Hague and the country from which you hope to adopt. Post placement services and reports will also be provided by Catholic Charities. You will also need to choose a Primary Provider, an agency who works in-country to ensure all ethical and legal requirements are met prior to referring/matching your family with a child. Catholic Charities can help guide you in the process of selecting a Primary Provider.
Intercountry adoptions vary greatly from country to country. These differences can include wait times, children available, travel requirements and cost. Some countries also have requirements regarding adoptive parents which may include: age, marriage length, health, etc. It is up to each family to ensure you meet the requirements of the country from which you hope to adopt. It is strongly recommended that you go to: USCIS Country Information as well as the Department Of State Country Information link for each specific country, to review all criteria. Periodically reviewing your selected country’s requirements, for any changes, is also highly encouraged.
Catholic Charities has been Hague accredited since 2010 and has established strong relationships with other internationally-focused agencies here in the United States that allow us to work in intercountry adoption. Here are the some of the other agencies we work with*:
All God’s Children International
American World Adoptions
Child Adoption Association
Children of All Nations
Children of the World
Children’s Home Society of Minnesota
Children’s House International
Frank Adoption Center
Global Adoption Services, Inc.
Irene Steffas and Associates
Lifeline Children’s Services
Madison Adoption Associates
Nightlight Christian Adoptions
The Countries – Here are the countries we connect with through these collaborating agencies:
*This is not an exhaustive list of all countries that are open to international adoption. This is an ever-changing list. If you are interested in adoption from a country not listed, please contact us. You may also learn more about international adoption from the Department of State website.
People who are interested in possibly pursuing International adoption are those who:
- want to raise a child of a different culture
- are looking to adopt regardless of age
- who do not want contact with their child’s birth parents
- are prepared for an uncertain medical history
- who would like more predictable wait times and adoption costs
As international adoption is complicated and there are so many variables to consider, a family should follow these few basic steps to begin the process.
- Pick a country and provider – You will want to consider each country’s specific adoption laws and pick a Hague-accredited international adoption provider.
- Complete International Home Study – Just like in a domestic adoption, you must complete a home study before you are officially eligible to adopt. You will also need to prepare your dossier
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services – This will allow the country and the USCIS to evaluate and verify your eligibility. See more about documentation and Hague accreditation to learn about how to complete this.
- Child referral – Once you are cleared to adopt and a child becomes available, your specialist will inform you of the situation. You will also get information on the child, but how much can vary. After that, you will usually have about 24 hours to accept or decline the referral.
- Travel and Legalize – If you accept a referral, it’s time to travel. Depending on the country, the entire adoption could take place in the country of origin, or you may have to gain legal custody there and return home to complete the formal adoption process.