Kevin Qualls Family Law
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In an international adoption, can the child gain residency?

There are many personal reasons why a couple in California would choose to adopt a child. Maybe the couple cannot have biological children, maybe a stepparent wants to formally adopt his or her stepchild or maybe the couple simply wants to provide a loving home for a child in need. Some parents want to adopt a child from another country. What is needed for the child in an intercountry adoption to become part of a family in the United States?

California has program in which certain adoption agencies that are private and licensed can help residents of the state adopt an orphaned child born in another country through the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. The program is called the Intercountry Adoption Program. The potential parents must file a certain form with the BCIS prior to identifying which child they would like to adopt. Once the child the potential parents want to adopt is identified, there is a different form to fill out and submit. In addition, per the Child Citizenship Act, starting in September 2000 most children who were born in another country and then enter the country as a legal permanent resident do not need to apply for citizenship under certain circumstances promulgated by the BCIS.

Per the BCIS, there are certain requirements that must be met for this to happen. First of all, either one or both of the potential parents must be a citizen of the United States. In addition, the child must be 18 years old or younger. Also, the adoption process must be completely finalized. Moreover, the child must be a legal permanent resident of the United States. Finally, the child, must be permanently living in the country and a potential parent must be a U.S. citizen who has physical custody and legal custody of the child.

The U.S. government provides a means for children from another country to become permanent residents, and eventually citizens, of the United States. Keep in mind that while this post may be informative, it cannot serve as legal advice. That being said, adoption can be emotionally rewarding for the parents and the child. By meeting all the necessary requirements, adoption can create a new and loving family.

Source: California Department of Social Services, "Adoption FAQs," accessed on March 23, 2016

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