An Immigration Attorney’s Look at the Hague Process of Adoption

When I work as an immigration attorney with client’s who are looking at intercountry adoption they are often surprised to hear that there are three separate processes in which people in the United States may engage. There are two primary types—the Hague Process and the Orphan Process (non-Hague). There is a third type that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) term Other Adoption Related Immigration. Each has its own parameters and each is intended to protect the child and all others involved in the adoption process.

Although the Hague and Orphan processes differ in some ways, they do have many similarities. Here’s a look at the Hague Process. I’ll address the Orphan Process and the process known as Other Adoption Related Immigration in future blogs.

Hague Adoption Process

Because the welfare of all involved in the international adoption process is important, the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption was created. Also known as the Hague Adoption Convention, it is charged with protecting birth parents, the children and adoptive parents throughout the entire process; it is active in countries that subscribe to it.

Importance of Central Authority

Any nation that is a signatory of the Convention is required to have an officially defined Central Authority. The Central Authority is charged with and empowered to make sure that the adoption process maintains its integrity and is safeguarded.

Accredited Adoption Service Providers (ASP)

In adopting a child from another country, you’ll be working with an adoptive service provider (ASP). All ASPs in Hague Adoption Convention countries must either be authorized by the Hague Adoption Convention or accredited. This is required for them to offer services to those seeking to engage in intercountry adoption. Prior to working with or paying an ASP, you must make sure that they are accepted under the Hague Adoption Convention.

Legal Services

In terms of legal services, prospective parents must be aware that an ASP, if they do not have a licensed attorney representing your immigration matters, is not permitted to offer either legal services or counsel. Prospective adoptive parents will need to hire their own immigration attorney and preferably one who works with intercountry adoptions.

The Hague Adoption Convention Process

1. Secure an ASP that has been approved by the Hague. This will protect all involved and is required.

2. You must undergo a home study designed to determine the feasibility of your being a parent to an adopted child. The home study is done by someone trained and licensed to do so and not by the USCIS.

3. Prior to adopting a child or accepting a placement, you must complete an application, filing it with the USCIS. They will decide if you’re an appropriate candidate to engage in the adoption of a child in a foreign country.

4. If approved by the USCIS, you will then work with the ASP to secure an adoption placement.

5. You must ensure that the child is eligible to immigrate to the United States. This is done prior to the actual adoption and involves filing a “petition” with USCIS and a subsequent filing with the respective US Embassy.

6. Once the child is deemed eligible to immigrate, you would then either adopt or gain custody of the child, adopting him/her in the United States.

8. Next you would take your child to the U.S. for admission.

Final Thoughts

The Hague Adoption Convention protects each person involved in intercountry adoption. It’s best to work with an immigration attorney who is experienced in the Hague Adoption Convention process. They will be able to help you through the various steps. Please contact the Ranchod Law Group in California, if you have any questions regarding intercountry adoption or want to start the process. To schedule a consultation you may reach us at 415-986-6186 or at
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