Due to the complexity of international adoptions, the laws of different countries, and Hague Convention standards, a number of organizations will play a large role in your adoption journey. As you begin your research into international adoption, the names of all these entities can quickly become confusing.
Please use the following as a quick guide to the many organizations that will play roles in your international adoption.
The Hague Adoption Convention requires involved countries to have a Central Adoption Authority, usually a government entity, which oversees international adoptions. In the United States, the authority is the Department of State.
The role of the Central Adoption Authority is to ensure that the adoption process is carried out appropriately. In Hague Convention countries, these authorities work to protect the wellbeing of children by upholding all of the Convention guidelines.
If you are adopting from a Hague Convention country, the Department of State and the Central Authority of that country will be important figures in your adoption. When you apply for your child’s visa, you will send your application to the authority of the child’s birth country, and you will also have a visa interview with them.
Council on Accreditation
The Department of State manages accrediting entities, which give adoption professionals approval to complete Hague-compliant adoptions. Currently, the accrediting entity in the United States is the Council on Accreditation.
While you will most likely not interact with the Council on Accreditation, it is important for you to understand their role when you search for an adoption professional. When you see that adoption professionals are Hague-accredited, you will know that they were approved by this organization.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
With offices all across the world, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is devoted to facilitating the immigration process and promoting a wider understanding of immigration and citizenship.
USCIS oversees all immigrations to the United States, and that includes your adopted child’s immigration. You will have two separate exchanges with USCIS: first to determine if you are eligible to adopt, and then to determine if your child is eligible to immigrate to the United States.
To become eligible to adopt, you will have to file a Form I-800A or I-600A with USCIS. Later, when you apply for your child to be eligible for adoption, you will send them the Form I-800 or I-600.
Hague-Accredited Adoption Service Provider
The organization that you will have the most contact with during your journey is your adoption service provider (ASP). Your adoption professional should provide the following services:
- Guidance and/or counseling through the adoption
- Assistance with compiling your dossier
- Communication with the country where you adopt
- Home study services or referrals
- Post-adoption services
Your ASP will be the one that facilitates communications with all other authorities and organizations involved in your adoption. Although your professional will be there to guide you through the process, it is still beneficial to know the names and purposes of the main international adoption entities.