State Recognition of Intercountry Adoptions Finalized Abroad - West Virginia

Date: April 2018

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree

Citation: Ann. Code § 48-22-901

When an adoption occurs in a foreign country and the adopted child has immigrated to the United States with the permission of the United States, this State shall recognize the adoption. The rights and obligations of the parties as to matters within the jurisdiction of this State shall be determined as though the adoption decree was issued by a court of this State.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 48-22-902; 48-22-903

Any time after the child has immigrated to the United States, the adoptive parents may petition the court to recognize the foreign adoption decree that was issued abroad. The petition will set forth:

  • The name and address of the petitioner(s)
  • The name of the child adopted abroad
  • The name by which the child will now be known
  • The child's country of origin and date of birth, if known
  • That the child has a visa or other document authorizing entry into the United States and the date of entry
  • That a home study of the petitioner(s) was prepared
  • The date on which the adoption was decreed in the foreign country

A copy of the visa or other documentation, the home study, and the foreign adoption decree or other document(s) that evidence finalization of the adoption in the foreign country, along with an English translation, will be attached to the petition.

The petition may include requests for specific relief or findings to meet the best interests of the child that may be granted at the court's discretion, such as a revised birth date if a physician has recommended a revision of the child's birth date.

The court shall review the petition and accompanying documentation and, if the court finds the petition and documentation to be satisfactory, it shall enter an order of adoption stating that the documentation required has been submitted and is satisfactory and that the adoption must be recognized in West Virginia and shall have the same force and effect as if the decree of adoption was granted in accordance with the provisions of the West Virginia adoption act. The order must set forth the name by which the child shall be known and other pertinent findings of the court. The court shall enter the order without the necessity of a hearing unless deemed necessary or a hearing is requested. The provisions of § 48-22-702(a),(d),(e) shall apply to all orders issued hereunder and a new birth certificate shall be issued.

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16-5-16(a); 16-5-18(h)

When a court has entered an adoption order, it shall require the preparation of a certificate of adoption. The certificate of adoption shall be certified by the clerk of the court and shall provide:

  • In the case of a person who was born in a foreign country, evidence of the date and place of birth from sources determined to be reliable by the court
  • Information necessary to establish a new certificate of birth of the adopted person
  • Information sufficient to identify the order of adoption

Upon receipt of the required documentation, the State registrar shall prepare and register a certificate in this State for a person born in a foreign country who is not a citizen of the United States and who was adopted through a court of competent jurisdiction in this State. The State registrar shall establish the certificate upon receipt of:

  • A certificate of adoption from the court ordering the adoption
  • Proof of the date and place of the child's birth
  • A request from the court, the adopting parents, or the adopted person who is at least age 18 that the certificate be prepared

The certificate shall be labeled 'Certificate of Foreign Birth' and shall show the actual country of birth. The certificate shall include a statement that it is not evidence of U.S. citizenship for the person for whom it is issued.