International adoptions, while increasingly less common than their domestic counterpart, do still occur worldwide.  Individuals hoping to adopt a child from a foreign country have a distinct set of requirements they must meet before and after the process is complete to ensure the child has access to the benefits of US citizenship and to prevent issues from evolving as they grow up.

Illinois Requirements for International Adoption of Children Still Residing in Birth Country

Prospective adoptive parents must follow all requirements for adoption within the country where the child resides. While requirements differ between countries, as part of the international adoption process, prospective adoptive parents generally must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be a United States citizen – if a couple is adopting, at least one parent must be a citizen
  • Consent to:
    • A home study by a licensed child welfare agency
    • A background check
    • Interviews
    • Post-placement visits
  • Participate in the Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System

Prospective adoptive parents must also be prepared to travel to the child’s country of origin and meet certain residency requirements which can vary from weeks to several months.

Home Country Adoption and Readoption in the United States

Adoptions of children from international countries may occur twice – once in the home country of the child and once in that state court where the parents reside once the child has relocated.

The first adoption is typically carried out by an agency that:

  • Organizes the adoptive parents travel to the foreign country to finalize adoption proceedings
  • Arranges the transportation of the child to the US
  • Assists in obtaining all legal documentation relating to status and travel to the US.

Many parents pursue a second adoption, also known as a re-adopt, in their home state after competition of the adoption in the child’s birth country.  While not legally necessary, a re-adopt in Illinois ensures all the necessary paperwork is compliant with state and federal regulation and protections against the destruction or misplacement of original documentation in the birth country.

Illinois Requirements for International Adoption of Children Currently Residing in the United States

For foreign-born children currently residing in the United States, the adoption process includes additional requirements, most notably compliance with the Hague Convention.  Obtaining legal status for a foreign-born child through an adoption is not automatic and varies depending on certain factors, including compliance with the Hague convention, age of the child, and/or the legal status of the adoptive parent or parent(s).  Other immigration avenues aside from adoption may be available as well, including Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.

The attorneys at Kogut & Wilson are skilled in the complexities of adoption law and are ready to answer any questions surrounding international adoptions.

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