Arbor Offers Affordable Adoption Legal Services for Northern Virginia Families
International Adoption

International adoption is the placement of children from foreign countries with adoptive families in the United States. While international adoption can be more expensive than other forms of adoption, parents who are otherwise eligible have a higher likelihood of finding a baby or toddler, as typically more infants and young children are available internationally than domestically.

Many foreign children are seeking families abroad.
For any parent investigating international adoption, the U.S. State Department has a website with an excellent overview of the process, information on resources and requirements, and many publications designed to assist parents in America with their search for a foreign child. One of the most important features of the site is a country-by-country analysis of adoption regulations abroad, including updates and notices about the current status of certain countries.

There are a host of international adoption agencies that work within the United States, either in conjunction with a domestic agency or through a locally-licensed arm of the international agency. All international agencies must be licensed by the U.S. Department of State to place children in the United States, and the Department’s website provides an up-to-date list of qualified agencies. If you have already identified a locally licensed adoption agency, and do not find it on the list of authorized international organizations in Virginia, please check with the agency to find out what agreements they may have in place with agencies that are otherwise federally authorized.

When adopting internationally, parents are advised to use an agency with experience in the desired home country, as each country open for adoptions to foreign citizens has separate requirements, federal and state agencies, and adoption procedures. Parents must follow all guidelines and regulations set
Over the past 10 years, international adoption in Virginia has increased dramatically.
out by Virginia and by the U.S. State Department, as well as the requirements of the foreign country, including the filing of paperwork in foreign courts. While the overall process may seem daunting, a good agency will help parents manage the steps and necessary documentation, and upon the family’s return to Virginia, an adoption lawyer can assist with the filing of final Petitions for Adoption in local courts to domesticate a foreign adoption or guardianship. Whether you are investigating international adoption as an option for building your family, or have already returned with your new child, Arbor can answer common questions about the process, and can assist with filing paperwork in Northern Virginia area Circuit Courts.

What is “Re-Adoption”?
The placement of children from foreign countries with citizens or residents of the United States can be accomplished through a full adoption proceeding in the courts and agencies of the originating country. In these foreign placements, the child has fully-recognized adoptive status with the new adoptive parents; however, parents often choose to “re-adopt” the child through the local circuit court for a variety of reasons. Re-adoption provides domestic paperwork and court orders proving the child’s status, written in English, and additionally can formalize or clarify a name change. While re-adoption is not required in Virginia (See Virginia Code Section 63.2-1200.1), the process results in domestic paperwork that can always be located if the originals are lost or destroyed.

After the Virginia adoption statutes were revised in July of 2011, Parents of children who have been the subject of a full, finalized adoption proceeding in a foreign country, and who have entered the United States under an IR-3 or IH-3 visa, may submit paperwork directly to the Virginia Registrar of Vital Statistics to obtain a Virginia Certificate of Foreign Birth. This document is the equivalent to a Virginia birth certificate. See sub-section (B) of Virginia Code Section
63.2-1200.1.

What is the Difference Between a Foreign Adoption and a Foreign Guardianship?
While the majority of international adoptions occur through foreign adoption, certain countries, such as India and South Korea, issue guardianship documents (rather than formal adoption papers) for parents and their new children prior to their departure to the United States. Children who are subjects of a foreign guardianship placement typically enter the United States on an IR-4 visa, and are not granted automatic U.S. citizenship upon entry. After returning home from the placing country with the child, the adoptive parents must then complete the additional adoption requirements of the originating country, as well as file a Petition for Adoption domestically in a local circuit court in order to finalize the process.

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The Arbor Law Firm recognizes the many expenses already faced by adoptive families, and offers affordable rates and suggestions for reducing legal costs to assist families to take the final steps in securing a foreign adoption domestically. In Northern Virginia, please contact Arbor for additional information on attorney services for international adoption filings, including re-adoption and obtaining a Virginia birth certificate for foreign-born children.