What is the first step in an international adoption?
There are actually two answers to this question. Some people choose an agency first, and then apply for approval from the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) which involves getting a home study done as well as gathering other documents. Other people get their home study done and apply to the Homeland Security office, and then chose an agency. Either way is acceptable. However, there are advantages to choosing your agency first.
By choosing your agency first, the agency can provide you a list of documents needed for your country of choice. This set of documents is called the dossier. Since some of these documents will be needed for your home study agency, USCIS and your dossier (therefore you would need three of some, but not all, documents), you can order the appropriate needed number of the same document at the same time if you know ahead of time what will be needed for each step. This will save time in the gathering of your dossier for your country of choice. The agency cannot provide the dossier list until you become a client of the agency due to legalities.
How long does a total adoption take, from start to finish?
Before you can begin an adoption, you must have USCIS approval and have your dossier ready. It takes some people 3 weeks to gather and authenticate their dossier, and others, it can take many months. The actual length of the adoption varies depending on the country. In Ethiopia, the adoption process can take 4-9 months from the time your paperwork is in the country and you have accepted a referral. In Ukraine, one must await an invitation to travel then most people return home with a child about 3 weeks after arriving in country. In Haiti, the process can take 12-24 months after the acceptance of referral. (These are rough estimates which change frequently.)
What is the purpose of “immigration clearance”?
Immigration clearance is required in order to bring an internationally adopted child into the United States. USCIS gives you pre-approval to adopt a child from another country.
What is a home study?
A home study is compiled by a qualified adoption worker according to the guidelines of your state. It will include information about your family members and their backgrounds, your finances and your motivation to adopt. We can work with your social worker to inform them of the particular country requirements for your home study.
VERY IMPORTANT: CCI is licensed by the State of Florida. Therefore, all home studies of CCI clients must include all aspects required by the State of Florida. In addition, all home studies must comply with Hague-related regulations. We can provide you with a list of Florida and Hague requirements prior to your home study so that no amendments are needed after your home study is complete
Note: The home study can be completed before you have contracted with an agency or selected a country, but if you do this you will need to have the home study updated to meet the requirements of Florida, Hague, and the country from which you are adopting.
What is a dossier?
A dossier is the set of documents required by foreign governments for adoptions. We will supply you with a list of documents required by the country you have selected, as well as instructions of how to prepare each document.
Can I work with CCI if I live outside the state of Florida?
Absolutely! We have clients all over America….and in other parts of the world! U.S. citizens who reside outside of the United States can adopt through CCI.
What if my spouse is not a U.S. citizen?
USCIS regulations permit international adoptions provided that at least one parent is a U.S. citizen.
Are singles permitted to adopt?
Yes, singles may adopt. There are, however, varying requirements and restrictions from country to country. CCI is licensed by the State of Florida, which does not allow homosexuals to adopt, and therefore CCI cannot work with any homosexuals regardless of the client’s state of residence. In addition, some countries do not allow homosexuals to adopt.
At what point in the process are children assigned?
This varies, depending on the country you choose to adopt from.
How do I go about accepting a referral?
Again, this varies depending on the country.
Can more than one child be adopted at one time?
Yes. Many clients who know they would like to adopt more than one child opt to do the adoptions simultaneously. It is advisable in this situation to prepare a dossier for each child so that the cases can proceed independently through the court system. There is a possibility for reduced fees when more than one child is adopted through the same foreign attorney or if the children are in an orphanage. In China, you may only adopt one child at a time.
Is travel required for an international adoption?
This varies from country to country. Some countries require one or both parents to travel. For example, China requires only one parent to travel, and Ukraine requires both parents to travel. Some countries do not require the adoptive parents to travel to that country as the adoptions are done by power of attorney. In such countries, if desired, an “escort” can be arranged to bring the child/children to the U.S.
Is financial assistance available for international adoption?
We can help you explore possibilities for tax credits, grants, loans, etc. There is some grant money available from foundations, however, you cannot count on this. Also, keep in mind that the costs of the adoption are not all due at once. Depending on the country you adopt from, you will normally pay about ½ of the total cost of your adoption over the first 4 months of the process, as you are preparing your home study, obtaining USCIS approval, and preparing your dossier documents. The other ½ of your expenses is generally due towards the end, just before your complete your adoption.