The Popularity of international adoptions increased dramatically. International adoptions present their own unique challenges and may require legal proceedings both in the child’s country of origin and your state (a re-adoption).
We want to adopt a child, but have had no luck finding a child available in the United States. Can we adopt a child born in another country?
Yes. In America the number of international adoptions (children born outside of the United States and coming to the States) peaked in 2004 at nearly 24,000. The overall figures as of 2015 show approximately 6,000 children were adopted from abroad, down significantly from its peak.
Why have international adoptions become so popular?
Several reasons, such as the decrease in the number of children, particularly healthy infants, born in America who are available for adoption. At the same time, other countries have made more children available for adoption to American families.
Many prospective adoptive parents tire of the wait often associated with domestic agency adoptions. Some prospective adoptive parents also fear the birth parents of an American child will try to make post-adoption contact or have the court vacate the adoption. In these cases international adoption may offer better and more opportunities to adopt.
What are currently some of the popular countries where American citizens are adopting children?
Popular countries include China, Ethiopia and the Ukraine. Russia had been one of the most popular countries but in 2015, there were no adoptions from Russia. Former Eastern Bloc countries such as Poland and Romania are popular. Adopting children born in China also is popular.
What costs and time frames are involved with adopting a child born in another country?
It is impossible to pinpoint accurately how much time and money will be spent by American families wanting to adopt a child born in another country. Factors affecting the costs and timing include how quickly a child can be found, the child’s state of health, the United States diplomatic relations with the child’s country of birth, travel expenses, and the unofficial customary fees and gratuities.
What rules apply to American citizens who live in Illinois and want to adopt a child born in another country?
There are both United States Immigration and Naturalization and Illinois Department of Children and Family Services rules concerning international adoptions.
United States Immigration and Naturalization Service Rules
The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has significant rules, prerequisites, and other requirements that prospective adoptive parents must follow even before they can go to another country and return with a child they adopted in that country. The requirements include applications, background checks, and extensive home study investigations.
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Rules
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) also has rules regarding international adoption, including that no person, agency or organization except a licensed child care institution or child welfare agency can receive a foreign-born child in Illinois without prior notice to and approval of DCFS.
How do we start looking for children born in other countries who are available for adoption?
Because INS and DCFS must approve the child coming into the United States, The Gitlin Law Firm recommends prospective adoptive parents of foreign-born children contact a reputable adoption agency experienced in international adoptions and dealing with INS and DCFS.
Re-adoption is not required, but it is highly practical because this is how you may obtain an American birth certificate for the child. Without an American birth certificate, difficulties with school registration, driver’s license and other applications, and countless other bureaucratic matters may regularly occur.
After entry of a re-adoption decree, the adoptive parents can obtain an Illinois “Record of Foreign Birth,” which is similar to a new birth certificate.
How do I start the Illinois Re-adoption court proceedings?
The initial step in Illinois re-adoption court proceedings, after returning to the United States with the child adopted in the foreign country, is to file a court petition for entry of an Illinois adoption decree.
If all rules involved with adopting the child in the foreign country and bringing the child to the United States are followed, and the adoptive parents file for re-adoption soon after returning to the United States with the child, the adoptive parents should be able to avoid another home study investigation during re-adoption court proceedings.
How long should the Illinois re-adoption court proceedings take?
The re-adoption court proceedings should be considered similar to a related adoption, but some Illinois courts treat re-adoption as if the parents were adopting an unrelated child. In the latter cases, the re-adoption court proceedings will take longer.
What the the costs of a re-adoption court proceeding?
For re-adoption, the petitioners must pay:
- The Clerk of the Circuit Court’s filing fee ($65.00 in McHenry County).
- The fee to serve the child with summons and the petition ($37.65 if done by window service through the McHenry County Sheriff Civil Process Division).
- $250 to $500 for fees of a guardian ad litem, who is an attorney for the child.
- $5 to State Registrar of Vital Records to obtain the child’s Record of Foreign Birth.
- If the child’s birth parents did not consent to the adoption or did not have their parental rights terminated in the foreign country, the re-adoption petitioners also will have to publish notice in a newspaper, which costs $75 to $150 depending on the newspaper.
What do attorneys normally charge to represent adoptive parents in re-adoption cases?
Some attorneys may charge a set, or flat, fee. Many attorneys charge their customary hourly rates for re-adoption representation.