What Coloradoans should know about international adoption

International adoptions can be lifesaving for many children abroad, but prospective families should know the laws that govern the process.

People in Colorado and across the country are increasingly engaging in a practice known as orphan hosting. Families who are considering an international adoption get a chance to meet the child prior to starting the process. According to a report from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, hosting has increased over the past five to seven years, but international adoptions have declined.

Experts say that bureaucratic red tape has led to the downward trend in placements. It is imperative that families in Colorado exploring international adoption know what to expect.

The home study

A key requirement for international adoptions is the home study. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services notes that the parents hoping to adopt must meet certain requirements to be deemed eligible and suitable. A licensed agent will conduct the home study, which will vary depending on the type of adoption a family is pursuing.

Typically, these processes will include interviews and gathering medical, financial, criminal and other background information. The agent will visit the home where the child would reside and even, in some cases, require that the parent or parents see a physician or psychologist for a deeper evaluation.

The immigration process

The U.S. Department of State is responsible for ensuring that an internationally adopted child is able to enter the United States lawfully. The child will have to obtain an immigrant visa in order to come to the United States. There are three different types of international adoptions that will determine which type of visa the child will receive:

  • An orphan or non-Hague adoption: When a full and final adoption is completed abroad, the child will be issued an IR-3 visa. The IR-3 visa requires that the parent (if unmarried), or at least one parent (if married) physically see the child prior to or during the adoption proceedings. An IR-4 visa will be issued to a child who is coming to the United States to be adopted, who was adopted abroad by only one parent (if married), or who was not seen by the parents prior to or during the adoption abroad.
  • A Hague adoption: An IH-3 visa will be issued to a child after a full and final adoption from a Hague Convention country. An IH-4 visa will be issued to a child who is coming to the United State from a Hague Convention country to be adopted.
  • Other adoptions: An IR-2 visa will be issued to a child who is adopted by a U.S. citizen if the child immigrates to the U.S. while unmarred and under 21 years of age. In some cases, an IR-2 may be issued to an adopted person over the age of 21 years if the Child Status Protection Act applies.

As the U.S. Department of Homeland Security points out, any prospective parents should be familiar with all the laws that govern the process. U.S. federal laws and the laws of the child's home country will determine what paperwork, fees and other legalities apply.

Even after the adoption is approved and the child obtains a visa, in some cases, the family will still have to ensure that the child becomes a U.S. citizen. Colorado families may find the process is complicated. Anyone with questions about the matter should contact an attorney.