Intercountry Adoption Concerns: Thoughts from an Immigration Attorney

As an immigration lawyer, I work with people who are considering adopting a child from another country. Before the process ever begins, there are some concerns and questions that any adoptive parent must address.

Adoption within your home country can be a long road and going outside of the country can be even trickier, although well worth it. When discussing and considering intercountry adoption, there are various areas of concern. Here are five key categories that you should investigate.

Parental Requirements

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), those wishing to adopt must be citizens of the U.S. If it is a married couple, then there are no age restrictions, but if an unmarried citizen wishes to adopt a child, he/she must be at minimum 25 years old. In terms of the actual adoption, potential parents will be interviewed and undergo a home study to ensure that they can provide a proper home and support for an adopted child. An immigration lawyer who works with intercountry adoptions can explain this process to you.

Child’s Age and Circumstances

In order for a child to be brought to the U.S. for adoption, he/she must be under 16 years old when the papers are filed. Most children that are adopted from foreign countries are four years old or younger (84%). The breakdown splits evenly between children under 12 months (42%) and children between the ages of one and four (42%).

Along with the ago of the child, as an immigration lawyer, I’ve found that parents need to consider that they may be bringing children into their family who have experienced a range of hardships, including abandonment, death of one or both parents, poverty and illness. Children may also have been exposed to neglect, alcohol and drug abuse and child abuse. There may be emotional, psychological and physical challenges involved.

Additionally, often there will be cultural differences and issues that will need to be addressed. Older children have been exposed to more and had more experiences than younger ones. For any child but especially for older ones, there can certainly be problems in adjusting to a new home as well as a new land and culture.

Timetable and Timeframe

No adoption is immediate and in my law practice with intercountry adoption and immigration I’ve found that some adoptions happen quickly, within a year, and others can take as long as four years. Thus, adoptive parents need to not only plan ahead but project what it will be like for them and a child if the process takes longer than usual.

Think Seriously and Ask Questions

Review each of the categories discussed in this article, being sure that you are as realistic as possible when considering the possibilities.

Contact the Ranchod Law Group in Sacramento or Stockton. If you have any questions regarding the process of intercountry adoption or immigration. To schedule a consultation contact us at (916) 613-3553 or at