International Adoption and Re-Adoption

If you are interested in adopting a child from outside of the United States, you will need to meet both the legal requirements of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as well as those of the child’s country of origin. The majority of international adoptions are facilitated by adoption agencies.

Countries vary with regard to the characteristics of the children waiting to be adopted  (such as age, sex and health conditions) as well as the required characteristics of the adopting parents (such as age, marital status, and health status).

The United States is a signatory to the Hague Adoption Convention. This means that if you are adopting a child from another country that has signed the Convention, you must comply with Hague adoption requirements,which provide a uniform process meant to safeguard international adoptions.The Hague requires, among other things, that adoption service providers (agencies or attorneys) involved in international adoptions in Hague Convention countries be accredited or approved to provide services by the Department of State’s accrediting Entity. A list of countries that have signed the Convention can be found at http://adoption.state.gov/hague_convention/countries.php.

If you are adopting from a country not on this list, the requirements you must meet may vary significantly from those in the United States. Under recently enacted law, adoption service providers in non-Convention international adoptions involving orphan children must comply with the same accreditation standards that apply in Convention adoption cases. Therefore, before embarking on an international adoption, it is important to consult with an experienced adoption attorney who can refer you to appropriate adoption services providers for a particular country.

Re-adoption refers to an adoption in a state court of the United States of a child who has previously been adopted in his or her country of birth. In some cases, re-adoption is required, and the child will not become a citizen unless the re-adoption is completed before the child’s 18th birthday. This is the case where the child entered the United States on an IR-4 or IH-4 Visa. The child’s name may also be changed in the re-adoption proceeding.

Where re-adoption is not required (if the child entered the United States on an IR-3 visa), it is often recommended for the important benefits it confers. A re-adoption attests to the validity of the foreign adoption, assuring that it will be recognized throughout the United States. It also allows the adopting parents to easily obtain additional copies of the Judgment of Adoption if they ever need them. After a Judgment of Adoption is entered by a New Jersey state court, the adopting parents may obtain a new birth certificate for their child from the New Jersey Vital Records office.

If you live in Morristown, New Jersey, Morris County or the surrounding state and are considering international adoption, please feel free to contact my firm to help guide you through the process.