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San Jose Family Law Attorney offers tips on the international adoption process.

San Jose Family Law Attorney offers tips on the international adoption process.

Recent celebrity adoptions have focused attention on the growing international adoption business. Many Americans choose to adopt internationally for many reasons, including the ready availability of infants. There are essentially two ways to adopt internationally.

You can adopt a foreign child through an American agency that specializes in international adoptions — or you can adopt directly. Most people use an agency, because direct adoption can be difficult. If you prefer a direct adoption, you will have to adhere not only to the adoption laws of your state, but also to U.S. immigration laws and the laws of the country of the child. It will be a complex process, so be prepared for some tangles. Do as much research as you can before you fly off to find a child; the more you know about the chosen country’s adoption system ahead of time, the better off you’ll be when you get there. For example, you may be required to stay in that country for several weeks or months before bringing the child to the United States.

U.S. immigration laws require that prospective adoptive parents be married or, if single, at least 25 years old. The adoptive parents must file an Orphan Petition (Form I-600) with the agency now known as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly called the INS), to show that the child’s parents have died, disappeared, or abandoned the child, or that one remaining parent is not able to care for the child and consents to the child’s adoption and immigration to the U.S. If there are two known parents, the child will not qualify as an orphan under any circumstances.

Along with the Orphan Petition, you will need to submit a number of other documents, including a favorable home study report. If USCIS approves the petition, and there are no disqualifying factors such as a communicable disease, the child can be issued an immigrant visa.

Much of the paperwork for an international adoption can be completed even before you have identified a specific child to adopt. Advance preparation is a valuable option because the paperwork often takes a long time to process, and may hold up the child’s arrival in the U.S. even after all foreign requirements have been met.

Finally, be sure you check your own state laws for any preadoption requirements. Some states, for instance, require you to submit the written consent of the birthmother before they approve the entry of the child into the state. Some experts recommend that parents who adopt overseas readopt the child in their own state in order to make sure that the adoption fully conforms to state law, and in order to get a birth certificate that is in English. Sometimes, readoption is a legal necessity — required either by the state in which you live, or by the country in which you adopted.

Here at Sagaria Law, we offer a full range of family law and legal services including divorce, paternity, adoption, child custody and visitation matters, child support, spousal support, alimony, juvenile dependency, domestic violence, division of property, grandparent visitation and custody, etc. We have seven Northern California locations including San Jose, San Francisco, Redwood City, Fremont, Salinas, Roseville and Sacramento. We offer a free thirty minute consultation, either in person at any of our offices, or over the phone. Call our offices today and we can connect you with an attorney immediately or we can schedule your free consultation with one of our family law attorneys : (408) 279-2288 or (800) 941-6730 or visit

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