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First, determine if you (and your spouse) are eligible to adopt a child. Then, determine if the child you wish to adopt is eligible to immigrate to the U.S. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office determines this eligibility and you may want to hire a lawyer before continuing with your adoption process.

U.S. federal law, the laws of the child's country of birth, and the laws of where you reside all govern the inter-country adoption process.  Furthermore, you will be required to have a home study, which determines whether you are eligible and suitable to adopt a child. A home study is conducted by a licensed professional who must abide by Department of Homeland Security regulations.  If you plan on adopting a child with special needs, the home study process will involve discussions of your ability to provide specific conditions for that child.

There are two different processes that apply to children adopted by U.S. citizens.  The first is the Hague Adoption Process and the second is the Non-Convention Adoption Process.

There are about 75 countries that participate in the Hague Adoption Process, which involves six primary steps.  You must complete these in the following order to meet all the legal requirements for the Hague Adoption Process:
  1. Choose an accredited adoption service provider
  2. Apply to be eligible to adopt
  3. Be referred for a child
  4. Apply for the child to immigrate to the U.S.
  5. Adopt the child
  6. Get an immigrant visa for the child
The Non-Convention Adoption Process has some differences from the Hague Adoption Process.  You must complete the following in order to meet all the legal requirements for theNon Convention Adoption Process:
  1. Choose a licensed adoption service provider
  2. Apply to be eligible to adopt
  3. Get referred for a child
  4. Adopt that child
  5. Apply for the child to immigrate to the U.S.
  6. Get an immigrant visa for that child
Before getting too far along in the process, make sure to check if you are eligible to adopt. And remember that there will be steps to take once your child has arrived in the U.S.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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