Although allegations of fraud and abuse have caused a decline in international adoptions worldwide, they remain popular for prospective adopters in the United States. While some countries have taken steps to prevent fraud and have seen the number of international adoptions decrease, other countries have apparently risen in popularity because they present fewer restrictions. This can lead, in some cases, to corruption and fraud, and the risk that a false statement made by someone filing paperwork abroad could eventually hurt the adopted child in some future immigration application or petition.
The United States became subject to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the “Hague Convention”) in 2008. It establishes transparency procedures and safeguards to protect children in adoptions between countries. The U.S. State Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) deal with petitions for international adoptions. In addition to the family court procedures in a prospective adopter’s state of residence, USCIS requires a series of steps in order to obtain approval for an international adoption. It has one procedure for adoptions conducted under the Hague Convention, and another for non-Hague “orphan” adoptions. The State Department handles petitions for visas, filed at an embassy or consulate abroad, to legally bring the child to the U.S. Once the child has a visa and arrives in the U.S., the adoptive parents may adjust the child’s status to permanent residence, and the child may eventually be eligible for citizenship.