How to Adopt

Intercountry adoptions are governed by three sets of laws: U.S. federal law, the laws of the child's country of residence, and the laws of your U.S. state of residence.

The time it takes to adopt a child from another country and bring that child to the United States varies widely. Generally, the process may take anywhere from one to four years, though in some cases, it may take longer. The length of time depends on a number of factors, including the country of origin's laws and procedures, the adoption service provider's process, the U.S. immigration process, and the specific circumstances regarding the case. See our country information Sheets that provide information on the adoption processes in over 175 countries.

Adoption service providers are to disclose all expected costs associated with your adoption before you sign an adoption services contract with them. This is required of all providers for intercountry adoptions under the Intercountry Adoption Act and the Universal Accreditation Act. See Working with an Adoption Service Provider for more information.

Hague Adoption Convention

The United States is part of an important treaty on intercountry adoption called the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). The treaty governs adoptions between the United States and other Convention countries. The process of adopting a child from a Convention country (Convention process) differs in several key ways from adopting a child from a country not party to the Convention (Orphan process). See our Who May be Adopted page for more information about the Convention and Orphan adoption process.

Support for U.S. Families During the Intercountry Adoption Process

Adopting a child from abroad takes patience and determination. Not only is the intercountry adoption process complex, but unexpected complications may arise. Because the process may take years, finding emotional support during this time can be helpful. You may also find it beneficial to consult with other parents or support groups about issues and concerns associated with intercountry adoption.

Here are some good places to start your support group search:

NOTE: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

Last Updated: September 12, 2018