Intercountry Adoption: Where Do I Start?
Series: Factsheets for Families|
Child Welfare Information Gateway |
|Year Published: 2009|
Finding an Adoption Services Provider
What You Should Know
The country from which you plan to adopt may help determine which adoption services provider you use. Only Hague-accredited adoption services providers may place children from Convention countries and provide other adoption services in a Convention adoption. Accredited (or "approved") adoption services providers must comply with the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 and Hague regulations, which are designed to protect everyone involved (adopted children, adoptive parents, and birth parents). For example, providers must disclose to prospective adoptive parents an itemized list of fees and estimated expenses prior to providing any adoption services.
For some non-Convention adoptions, you may work through a licensed adoption agency or you may work with an adoption lawyer or a private adoption agency as required by State regulations. The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends that families work with a reputable provider licensed by the State in which it is located and experienced in intercountry adoption. Nonagency intercountry adoptions may incur additional risks (including unethical practices, potential for an adoption to be overturned, and immigration difficulties). To help you determine whether an adoption services provider is reputable, see the tips in Information Gateway's How to Assess the Reputation of Licensed, Private Adoption Agencies (www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/twenty.cfm).
Take time to research and carefully select your adoption services provider. An experienced, reputable adoption services provider should be willing to walk you through the adoption process, help you prepare to become adoptive parents (through educational classes on parenting and adoption issues or referrals to such programs), contact USCIS about immigration regulations and forms, help you handle problems along the way, and provide support after you bring your child home. Before deciding on a provider, attend information sessions or orientations and ask questions about the services provided. Reputable adoption providers will answer your questions openly. These initial sessions are usually free. Visiting several different providers may help you find the one that best meets your needs.
Questions to ask adoption services providers:
- Is the provider accredited for Hague Convention adoptions?
- By which State is the provider licensed? Is the license in good standing?
- How long has the provider been involved in intercountry adoptions?
- In which countries does the provider have intercountry adoption programs? How long have they had programs in those countries?
- How many children has the provider placed (from the country of interest)?
- What are the provider's minimum requirements for prospective parents?
- How does the provider prepare parents for an intercountry adoption?
- Does the adoption provider have its own overseas staff or use the services of facilitators or lawyers?
- How do the provider's contacts (such as facilitators or lawyers) working in other countries identify children needing families?
- What are the fees? (Ask for a detailed list of expenses and schedule for payment.)
- What, if any, is the refund policy if an adoption does not occur?
- What services are provided after your child comes home? How long are they available?
- Does this provider offer all adoption services? Which other organizations may be involved in providing some of these services in a specific case? (For example, if your adoption provider is only helping conduct your home study, ask which other providers may be helping to identify a child for adoption, obtain the termination of the birth parents' parental rights, or monitor the case until the adoption is finalized. See the Information Gateway factsheet Intercountry Adoption From Hague Convention and Non-Hague Convention Countries for more information: www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/hague.cfm
Find more questions to ask in "What to Ask Before Choosing an Adoption Agency" from Adoptive Families magazine: www.adoptivefamilies.com/articles.php?aid=327.
Some Places to Go
The U.S. Department of State maintains a list of adoption services providers accredited or approved to provide services in Convention adoptions:
Some countries allow only organizations that are permitted by that country's government to place children internationally. The U.S. Department of State's Country-Specific Adoption Fliers provide information about whether a specific country has such a requirement: http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/learn_about_a_country.php.
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