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International vs. Domestic Adoption

Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, a foreign-born child automatically becomes a U.S. citizen upon finalization of the adoption. However, in order for the adoption to be considered final in the U.S., you may need to register it here, even though it was finalized and completed in the child's birth country. Be sure you know the immigration requirements before you bring your child home.

Many children who are adopted from foreign countries have been living in poverty which may have stunted their growth or development, or they may have been neglected, abused or isolated in an orphanage, or witnessed the brutality of war or other conflict which has left them emotionally scarred. Although many countries provide a complete medical evaluation of your child, medical practices and training in these countries may be substandard and they may be incapable of identifying or treating certain conditions. Therefore, it's important that you have your child thoroughly examined by a doctor upon arrival in the U.S. and ensure that he or she receives the medical and psychiatric care necessary. International adoptions may be completed more quickly than domestic adoptions, or they may take longer due to the amount of paperwork and negotiations between countries. It may take you more than two months to complete the preliminary paperwork and the length of time it takes to finalize the adoption of a child once your dossier has been submitted depends on how long it takes to match you with a child and for you to travel to the child's birth country. This can vary from a couple of months up to a year.

International adoptions can also be more costly than a domestic adoption, due to travel expenses, immigration processing, and court costs. Expect to spend between $10,000 and $30,000.

For more information about the adoption process in various countries, visit the Website for the Office of Children's Issues at the U.S. Department of State. You can also visit the Website for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service and part of the Department of Homeland Security) to find local field offices and obtain a copy of brochure M-249Y which outlines INS requirements for foreign-born, adopted children.

For more information on all types of adoption, visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway Website.

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