Intercountry Adoption

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Adoptions from the U.S.

Process Summary

An intercountry adoption case is an outgoing Convention case if it has all of the following components:

  • The child being adopted is resident in the United States;
  • The prospective adoptive parent(s) is (are) resident in a foreign Convention country, where they will move the child after adoption in the U.S. or plan to move the child for the purpose of adoption; and
  • The prospective adoptive parents initiated the adoption process by applying to the Central Authority in their country of residence on or after April 1, 2008 (the date the Convention entered into force for the United States).

Outgoing Adoption Steps

While every case outgoing adoption is different, there is a general process that the majority of intercountry adoptions from the United States follow. In part, this is because U.S. law requires that every intercountry adoption follows certain procedures. Refer to our Guide for Outgoing Cases for more information.

Most adoptions will include the steps mentioned below:

  1. Child in need of placement.
  2. Child background study. A U.S.-authorized entity prepares a child background study and obtains necessary consents.
  3. Reasonable efforts to find a timely domestic placement. The adoption service provider makes reasonable efforts pursuant to 22 CFR 96.54 to actively recruit and make a diligent search for a timely domestic placement.
  4. Prospective adoptive parent(s) wants to provide home for U.S. child in need. A prospective adoptive parent(s) who is (are) resident in another Convention country decides to provide a home for a child(ren) in need of placement who is (are) resident in the United States.
  5. Home study. The prospective adoptive parent(s) has a home study prepared that meets the requirements of 1) the receiving country in which he/she is (they are) resident, 2) the State with jurisdiction over the adoption, and 3) 22 CFR part 97 if the prospective adoptive parent(s) seeks a Hague Adoption Certificate (HAC) or Hague Custody Declaration (HCD).
  6. Prospective adoptive parent(s) applies to adopt. The prospective adoptive parent(s) files an application to adopt with a foreign authorized entity. Once the application is approved, the prospective adoptive parent(s) provides the home study, the criminal background check, and the approval to adopt to the U.S. authorized entity.
  7. Placement proposal. The U.S.-authorized entity transmits to a foreign authorized entity for approval the child background study, proof that necessary consents have been obtained, and a proposed placement, along with the reason for its determination that the proposed placement is in the child's best interests, based on the home study and child background study and giving due consideration to the child's upbringing and his or her ethnic, religious, and cultural background.
  8. Prospective adoptive parent(s) agrees to the proposed adoption.
  9. Entry authorization. Once the prospective adoptive parent(s) has accepted the match, the U.S. authorized entity must seek and obtain the authorization from the foreign authorized entity that the child will be able to enter and reside permanently in the receiving country.
  10. U.S. State adoption court proceedings. U.S. State adoption laws and court procedures vary widely. In every case, the prospective adoptive parent(s) must petition a U.S. State adoption court with jurisdiction over the case to adopt the child, and must present all supporting evidence required by State law.
    • Preliminary review: A U.S. State adoption court with jurisdiction over the adoption proceeding may, depending on State law, preliminarily review the proposed adoption to determine whether it is appropriate to grant initial guardianship to the prospective adoptive parent(s) to travel with the child to the receiving country prior to a final adoption order. If guardianship is granted, the prospective adoptive parents will return to the U.S. State adoption court for the final adoption, if required.
    • Final review: After the foreign-authorized entity provides the entry authorization, the U.S. State adoption court performs a final review of the proposed adoption.
  11. Application for a Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Declaration. Any party involved in an outgoing adoption may apply to the Department of State for a Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Declaration, including but not limited to: adoptive or prospective adoptive parent(s), birth parent(s), and the adopted child.
  12. Issuance of a Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Declaration. The Department of State will review the Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Declaration application, and either issue a Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Declaration, or request additional information. If the party applying for the certificate fails to provide the required additional information within 120 days of the request, the application may be considered abandoned.
  13. Emigration of child to receiving country. The child and parent(s) enter the receiving country. Post placement monitoring is performed, if required.


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