International adoption is the process of adopting a child from another country and becoming the legal parent or guardian of that adoptee. For many hopeful parents who are unable to have children on their own, adoption is the best alternative. When adopting, there are two big choices: do you want to adopt domestically or adopt internationally? Domestic and international adoption have comparable costs. Waiting times can be significantly less with domestic adoptions, but international (or intercountry) adoptions cases can be more rewarding emotionally. If you think you're ready to start the international adoption process, know the following before you begin.

Hague Adoption Convention

Before adoption, make sure that the country you are adopting from is part of the Hague Adoption Convention. The Hague Adoption Convention is a measure that was introduced to reduce the amount of human trafficking happening during adoptions. If a country is not part of the convention, then the origins of the adopted children could be dubious regarding legality.The United States signed into the convention in 2008. Use this link to see which countries are signatories to the Hague Convention.


  • I-800a (Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country)
  • Form I-800 (Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative)
  • I-601 (Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility)


  • Form I-800a – $775 (+$85 biometric fee for every adult in the household)
  • Form I-800 – $0 for single child and siblings
  • Form I-601 – $930

The Adoption Process

Adoption is rarely quick. Waiting for countries to provide the right children can take years and years. With the right attorneys at your side, families can learn how to work towards a quicker solution for their children.

Here are some of the accreditation services you and your spouse need to do before finalizing an adoption.

  • Pick an adoption search provider to find the right children
  • Take a home study by someone who is a qualified Hague observer
  • Fill out an I-800a and submit to USCIS before adopting a child
  • Work with the adoption search provider to get adoption placement
  • Prior to adoption, file an I-800 with the USCIS to allow the adopted child to legally immigrate to the U.S.
  • Adopt or obtain custody of the adoptee while he or she is out of the U.S.
  • Get an immigrant visa for the adoptee
  • Bring your child to the USA

Each process depends on the country of origin of the adoptee.Attorneys cannot help families in the course of an international adoption. What they can do is assist families once the adoption has been finalized and the family has their new children as part of their household.

When bringing adoptees to the U.S., the Department of State will receive one of the following:

Visa + Certificate of citizenship

  • IR-3
  • IH-3

Permanent resident card

  • IR-4
  • IH-4

Depending on the suffix at the end of their visa, they could get either a certificate of citizenship or a permanent resident card. These two conditions depend on if the adopters were given guardianship of the adoptee in the adoptee's country of origin or if the adoption was finalized in the country of origin of the adoptee. If they receive a permanent resident card, then they will have to go through the process of re-adoption to be a citizen of the U.S.

The outcome of the adoptee will depend on their country of origin.You will more than likely need an attorney if the adoption was not finalized in the adoptee's country of origin.

How to do International Adoptions in State Courts

If you are seeking to finalize. you may need to proceed with finalization in a state court of law. Finalization may also be known as re-adoption. If the re-adoption process goes to court, your attorney will submit a letter asking the presiding judge about the preferred process of adoption. The attorney may also ask for a related adoption. A related adoption is a streamlined version of the adoption process.Related adoptions waive the expenses and fees along with any investigations attached to the case. This method of adoption is preferred because several steps of the process are removed. By the time an international adoption is finished and the child is in the U.S., the adoptive family and the adoptee have been examined for several years by the federal government, the state government, the adoptee's government, and have been subjected to the Hague convention.

Related adoptions help minimize the process by hopefully preventing yet another step from being added in the process. Other courts have other rules, so related adoptions may not happen in all cases. In 2012, Corina's Law was passed, which stated that children that come into the United States with a birth certificate in hand do not have to go through the re-adoption process. If the adopted children do not have birth certificates, then they (and their families) will have to go through the re-adoption process.

The family law attorneys at Salmon Haas can help with domestic adoptions in the state courts in Texas.

Have more questions about adoption?

If you live in the San Antonio area and you want more information about how to adopt children, contact the immigration lawyers at Salmón-Haas. Our team has information on how to work towards loving children that need families today. Stop waiting and use our services to learn more.

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