Completing Intercountry Adoptions Not Finalized Abroad - American Samoa

Date: May 2019

Requirements for Completing the Adoption

Citation: Commonwealth Code §§ 45.0420; 45.0422

The petition for adoption shall be filed no later than 30 days after the date on which the child is first placed in the home of the adoptive applicants. The court then fixes a date for the hearing.

Every petition for adoption shall contain the following information:

  • The name, date and place of birth, race, and place of residence of each petitioner, including the unmarried name of the adopting mother, and the date of marriage, if any, of the petitioners
  • The name, date and place of birth, and place of residence, if known by the petitioner, of the child to be adopted
  • The relationship, if any, of the child to the petitioner
  • The full name by which the child will be known after adoption
  • A full description of the property, if any, of the child
  • The names of the parents of the child and the address of each living parent, if known to the petitioner
  • The names and addresses of the guardian of the person and the guardian of the estate of the child, if any have been appointed
  • The name of the agency or person to whom the custody of the child has been given by proper order of court
  • The length of time the child has been in the care and custody of the petitioner
  • The names of other children, both natural and adopted and both living and dead, of the adopting parents
  • The residence and occupation of each petitioner at or about the time of the birth of the child

A hearing on the petition for adoption will be held on the date set by the court. No later than 6 months following the date of the hearing, unless that time is extended by the court for good cause shown, the court may enter a decree setting forth its findings and grant to the petitioner a final decree of adoption if it is satisfied as to the following:

  • The availability of the child for adoption
  • The good moral character, the ability to support and educate the child, and the suitableness of the home of the person adopting the child
  • The mental and physical condition of the child as a proper subject for adoption in the home
  • The fact that the best interests of the child will be served by the adoption

Required Evidence/Documentation

Citation: District Court Rules, Rule 27

The petition for an uncontested adoption must be filed with the following:

  • A certified copy of the child's birth certificate
  • Some identification of the proposed adoptive parents, although this may be shown at the hearing on the petition
  • All orders of relinquishments for both natural parents
  • All necessary consents from guardians

The petition for adoption must conform to the statutory requirements with regard to content.

Background Studies

Citation: Commonwealth Code § 45.04114

In placements by the Department of Health or child-placing agencies there shall be filed, in addition to the written consent, a written report showing the following:

  • The physical and mental health, emotional stability, and moral integrity of the petitioner and the ability of the petitioner to promote the welfare of the child
  • The physical and mental condition of the child
  • The child's family background, including the names of parents and other identifying data regarding the parents, if obtainable
  • Reasons for the termination of parental rights in the child
  • The suitability of the adoption of this child by this petitioner and the child's own disposition toward the adoption in any case in which the child's age makes this feasible
  • The length of time the child has been in the care and custody of the petitioner

Any party to the adoption proceeding may be entitled to see the report, except that the names of parents and adoptive parents and any means of identifying either are not made available except upon order of the court.

Placement Supervision and Reporting

Citation: Commonwealth Code § 45.0421

Except for stepparent adoptions and those cases in which placement for adoption has been made by the court or by an individual in whom guardianship of the person of the child has been placed by the court or in accordance with the law of another State or territory, when a petition for the adoption of a child is not accompanied by the written consent and report of the Department of Health or a child-placing agency, the court shall order the department, a child-placing agency, or the Probation Department of the court to make an investigation and file a written report substantially in the form outlined in § 45.0414, including a recommendation as to whether the adoption should be decreed.

Effect of Adoption Decree on Parental Rights

Citation: Commonwealth Code § 45.0423

After the entry of a final decree of adoption, the petitioner and the adopted person sustain toward each other the legal relation of parent and child, including the rights of inheritance from each other, and have all the rights and be subject to all the duties of a child born in lawful wedlock to the petitioner.

The natural parents are divested of all legal rights and obligations with respect to the child, and the adopted child is free from all legal obligations of obedience and maintenance with respect to the natural parents.

Obtaining a U.S. Birth Certificate

Citation: Commonwealth Code § 45.0424

If the court enters an order of adoption, certified copies are given to the adopting parents, the person or agency consenting to the adoption, the clerk of the high court, and the Registrar of Vital Statistics.

The court or the adopting parents or their legal representative may send to the registrar an application for a birth certificate, signed by the adoptive parents. The registrar will issue a birth certificate for the child showing the adoptive parents as the natural parents of the child and that the child is legitimate. The registrar then cross-references the new records with any old records and causes any old records of birth and parenthood to be placed in a sealed file and held in the records under security. It is unlawful for the contents of the sealed file to be released without court order.

The new birth certificate is then placed in the permanent records of the Registrar of Vital Statistics and becomes the official record of birth upon which all future certified copies or other statistics are issued. The date and place of birth may not be altered and the cross-reference of the registrar to the old records are not revealed or incorporated into the issuance of any certified copies of the birth certificate based upon the new original.

If the child was born outside of American Samoa, a copy of the order of adoption and application for birth certificate is sent to the registrar (or equivalent office) of the State, territory, or nation of birth.