How to Complete an International Adoption in Florida
When you’re a hopeful adoptive parent considering international adoption, the process, requirements and laws can quickly become overwhelming. Having the right information and support is important to making the process go as smoothly as possible and eliminating any confusion.
International adoption agencies in Florida are here to help, ease your concerns and guide you through this complex but incredible journey.
Continue reading to learn more about the international adoption process and the services international adoption agencies in Florida provide that help make your adoption dreams comes true.
Deciding Which Country You Want to Adopt From
An international adoption in Florida is the adoption of a child from a country other than the United States. This type of adoption is also commonly referred to as intercountry adoption.
For hopeful adoptive parents, determining which country they would like to adopt from and which agency they would like to work with are important decisions. Given the life-changing impact of these choices, it is essential to be well-educated on the process, rules and regulations involved.
The majority of the intercountry adoption process is determined by the country you are adopting from.
International adoption laws and trends change often. Each country has its own adoption laws, restrictions and political influences. Researching your options for international adoption in Florida and determining which country best matches your adoption goals is very important.
There may be differences in adoption costs and adoptive parent requirements for each country. Some countries even require the prospective birth parents and adoptive parents to meet prior to the latter being approved to adopt from that country, which can add to the overall cost and length of the adoption.
These are just some of the deciding factors for which country you want to adopt from, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons thoroughly.
Although it is not a requirement, adoptive parents should consider adopting from a Hague-compliant country. The Hague adoption convention is an international treaty enforced to protect children adopted internationally. This treaty helps prevent child trafficking and provides better access to medical records and adoption custody certificates for adoptive parents.
International Adoption Agencies in FL
Once you have determined the country you would like to adopt from, the next step is determining which of the international adoption agencies in Florida would be the best to work with during this journey.
Intercountry adoptions require the use of a licensed adoption service provider; they cannot be completed independently. The agency you work with will be involved throughout the entire process and impact your overall experience, so choosing the right provider is very important.
Adoptive parents should only work with an agency that is licensed and experienced in the country they have decided to adopt from. Even when adopting from a country that is not Hague-compliant, it is recommended you work with a Hague-accredited agency.
We suggest contacting any of these international adoption agencies in FL, for more information:
- ACF Adoptions
- Adoption by Shepherd Care
- Adopt International
- Adoption STAR
- All God’s Children
- America World Adoption
- Holt International
International Adoption Home Study
An international adoption home study evaluates your readiness to adopt and parent a child. The home study requires documentation of health records, financial records, background checks, reference letters, written statements of your intent to adopt and home visits.
You must complete your adoption home study prior to filing your eligibility paperwork for an international adoption in Florida. This process is lengthy and can sometimes take months to complete, so the sooner you are able to begin this step, the better.
Although American Adoptions of Florida specializes in domestic infant adoption, we also have the ability to complete the international adoption home study for the majority of international adoptions in Florida. If you decide to work with us, or another home study professional that is not associated with your international adoption agency, you will need to get approval from your agency prior to beginning the home study.
Here are the home study agencies in Florida available to you:
- American Adoptions of Florida
- Connecting Hearts Adoption Services
- Sunshine State Adoption and Home Study Services
Eligibility for International Adoption in Florida
Once hopeful adoptive parents have completed their international home study, the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services will confirm their eligibility to adopt. The completed home study, as well as several other forms and documents, will be submitted by your intercountry adoption agency for USCIS to reach its decision.
After receiving confirmation eligibility, the approval is valid for 15 months when adopting from a Hague Convention country and 18 months for a non-Hague Convention country.
Upon approval to adopt from the United States, your international adoption agency in Florida will send all completed forms and your adoption dossier to the adoption authorities of the country you have chosen. A very similar process will need to be completed for your child, as well, to verify their eligibility for adoption and immigration.
Because of the involvement of multiple departments and international agencies, this process can take several weeks, if not months to complete.
Returning Home With Your Child
When adoptive parents and their child have been approved for adoption by both the United States and the country from which the child was born, the international adoption agency in Florida will file for travel visas. This will ensure everyone is able to legally travel back to Florida after the adoption.
After receiving approval from both countries, the adoptive parents will travel to the child’s home country to meet their child. Prior to the finalization of the adoption, there will generally be an exit interview to confirm all international adoption requirements have been met. Once confirmed, the country will then grant the necessary visa for your child to return home.
In some situations, this visa will complete the adoption. However, no matter which visa is received, there are still legal requirements your international adoption agency in Florida must complete in order to finalize your adoption.
International Adoption Finalization and Re-Adoption
Adoption finalization is just that — the last step of the adoption process. Finalization makes your child a legal and permanent member of your family.
In many cases, your adoption is considered finalized after receiving approval and being granted a visa to return home from your child’s country. However, if the adoption was finalized overseas, international adoption agencies in Florida strongly recommend that parents complete the formal re-adoption process.
Completing your international adoption in Florida with a finalization or re-adoption legally protects your child’s permanent rights as a United States citizen. This process will also allow you to apply for an amended birth certificate and U.S social security card for your child.
Failure to complete finalization or a successful re-adoption can increase the chances of legal difficulties or incomplete citizenship after placement.
Begin Your International Adoption Journey
The decision to adopt internationally is an amazing choice. Although it can seem complicated, rest assured that you are in good hands working with one of the many great international adoption agencies in Florida. Take your time, research thoroughly and, when you are ready, contact an agency. They will be more than happy to discuss your options.
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