The Role of the State Department:
The State Department CAN:
-- Provide information about international adoption in foreign countries -- Provide general information about U.S. visa requirements for international adoption
-- Make inquiries of the U.S. consular section abroad regarding the status of a specific adoption case and clarify documentation or other requirements
-- Ensure that U.S. citizens are not discriminated against by foreign authorities or courts
The State Department CANNOT:
-- Locate a child or children available for adoption
-- Become directly involved in the adoption process in another country
-- Act as an attorney or represent adoptive parents in court
-- Order that an adoption take place or that a visa be issued
Other Sources of Information:
The Office of Children's Issues frequently receives requests for general information about international adoption. Questions range from how to begin the adoption process to how to find an agency, or what countries to consider. The public library and local telephone yellow pages (see "Adoption Services") are good sources of general information, including adoption agencies and attorneys who specialize in adoption, support groups and books and magazines related to adoption (See Appendices A and B). Additionally, a number of umbrella organizations provide extensive general information which can be very helpful both before and after the adoption. Several of these organizations publish articles and lists of adoption agencies. For specific information about agencies operating in your area, call your state social services agency or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) office.
Adoption opportunities, regulations, and even the social climate may change at any time, making it impossible to categorically state in which countries adoptions will proceed smoothly. For example, social and religious restrictions in Africa and the Middle East make adoption difficult in those regions. However, the Department of State does maintain statistics indicating the number of visas (IR-3 and IR-4) for adoption issued yearly by country. The list in Appendix C, Section III (page 19) gives the top 25 countries for fiscal year 1995. Since countries do change their adoption regulations, it is necessary for you to thoroughly investigate a country before initiating an adoption.
II. Guidelines on International Adoption
To complete an international adoption and bring a child to the United States, prospective adoptive parent(s) must fulfill the requirements set by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the foreign country in which the child resides and sometimes the state of residence of the adoptive parent(s). Although procedures and documentary requirements may seem repetitive, obtaining several copies of the same document is advisable to meet documentary requirements. The process is designed to protect the child, the adoptive parent(s) and the birth parent(s).
The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is the U.S. immigration law regarding the issuance of visas to nationals of other countries, including children adopted abroad or coming to the United States for adoption. The basic statutory provision concerning adopted children is in INA Section 101(b)(1)(E), which provides immigrant classification for "a child adopted while under the age of sixteen years if the child has been in the legal custody of, and has resided with, the adopting parent or parents for at least two years." This so-called "two-year provision" is for individuals who are temporarily residing abroad and wish to adopt a child in accordance with the laws of the foreign state where they reside. Most adoptive parents, however, are not able to spend two years abroad living with the child. Therefore, they seek benefits under another provision of the INA, Section 101(b)(1)(F), which grants immigrant classification to orphans who have been adopted or will be adopted by U.S. citizens. Under this section of the law, both the child and the adoptive parents must satisfy a number of requirements established by the INA and the related regulations, but the two-year residency requirement is eliminated. Only after it is demonstrated that both the parents and the child qualify, can the child be issued a visa to travel to the United States.
For specific information about INS requirements, see the U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, brochure M-249Y, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children. The INS also has a toll-free information number, from which you can obtain form M-249 booklets and the telephone numbers of local INS offices in the United States. The toll-free number is 1-800-755-0777.
Your adoption agency or attorney will require specific documents, as will your state of residence. These requirements may appear daunting. The chart, in Appendix C, Section IV, serves as a checklist for many of the documents that you will be expected to provide. In general, all agencies, whether state or private, require proof of citizenship, marriage (if a married couple), health, financial stability and information about arrests or certification of a clean criminal record. In addition, the home study (a report on the family prepared by a licensed social worker or other person licensed to perform home studies) normally is required by both the foreign government and the INS. Additional documents may be requested by the local government of the country from which you wish to adopt, your chosen adoption agency, or attorney.
Immigration and Naturalization Service Approval
Adoptive and prospective adoptive parent(s) must comply with U.S. immigration procedures, initiated through the INS in the United States in order to bring an adoptive child to the U.S. Simply locating a child in a foreign country and going to the U.S. embassy to obtain a visa for the child will not meet these requirements. An orphan cannot be brought to the United States without a visa, which is based upon an INS approved petition (form I-600). To facilitate the process, we suggest that you contact the INS office which has jurisdiction over your place of residence in the United States for information early in the pre-adoption process.
The Orphan Petition form has two parts: I-600 and I-600A. The I-600 is used when a specific child has been identified by the adoptive parents. The I-600 is filed with the appropriate office of the INS in the United States. The INS adjudicates all aspects of the I-600 petition - including the suitability of the adoptive parent(s), compliance with any state pre-adoption requirements (if the child is to be adopted after entry into the United States), and the qualifications of the child as an orphan within the meaning of section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (See INS brochure M-249Y). The INS notifies the U.S. embassy or consulate which processes visas for the country where the child is located when the petition has been approved. At the same time, the approved I-600 petition and supporting documents are sent to the National Visa Center in New Hampshire, where the petition is assigned a computer tracking code and then mailed to the appropriate U.S. consular office abroad.
The I-600A form should be filed if the prospective adoptive parent(s) have not yet identified a child or intend to go abroad to locate a child for adoption. Like the I-600, this application is filed at the local INS office in the United States with jurisdiction over the place of residence of the adoptive parent(s). INS evaluates the suitability of the prospective adoptive parent(s). When the application is approved, notification is sent to the adoptive parents and sent to the appropriate U.S. consular officer or overseas INS office if one or both of the prospective adoptive parent(s) will be traveling overseas and wish to file the orphan petition abroad. The adoptive parents may then file the I-600 petition with the local INS office in the United States, or overseas with the INS, or with the U.S. consular office abroad. Although only one parent must be present to file the I-600 petition overseas, that parent must be a U.S. citizen. In addition, if only one of the two parents travels, the petition must nevertheless be properly executed (signed) by both parents. This second signature cannot be done by power of attorney. The petition also must be completely filled out before either parent signs. Parents can, however, use express mail service to obtain the other signature.
The Foreign Adoption Process
Although adoption procedures vary from country to country, most countries require that prior to any court action, a child placed for adoption be legally recognized as an orphan or, in the case where a parent is living, be legally and irrevocably released for adoption in a manner provided for under local foreign law. In addition, the adoption laws in most countries require the full adoption of the child in the foreign court after the child has been declared an orphan or released by the living parent to an appropriate foreign authority. Some countries do allow simple adoption, which means that the adopting parent(s) are granted guardianship of the child by the foreign court. This will permit the child to leave the foreign country to be adopted in the country of the adopting parent(s). A few countries do allow adoptive parents to adopt through a third party without actually traveling to that country. It is important to note that a foreign country's determination that the child is an orphan does not guarantee that the child will be considered an orphan under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, since the foreign country may use different standards. Questions which involve interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to a foreign attorney operating in the country where the adoption will take place.
Some countries accept the properly authenticated home study of the prospective adoptive parent(s) at face value, while other countries also require a personal appearance by the adoptive parent(s) before the foreign court. Sometimes, countries require a period of residence by one or both adoptive parents. In these cases, prospective adoptive parents may find it necessary to spend an extended period of time in the foreign country awaiting the completion of the foreign adoption documents. Additionally, several countries require a post-adoption follow-up conducted by the adoption agency or the foreign country's consul in the United States.
III. Immigrant Visas
When the foreign adoption (or guardianship process in those countries which allow guardianship) is completed, the adoptive parent(s) can apply for an immigrant visa
(IR-3 for a child adopted abroad or IR-4 for a child to be adopted in the United States) at the appropriate U.S. consular office abroad. In addition to the notification of the approved I-600 or I-600A petition from the INS, the consular officer also requires specific documentation to conduct a visa interview and to approve visa issuance. Some of these requirements are discussed below. However, we strongly suggest that adoptive parents contact the consular section conducting the visa interview prior to the actual scheduling of the interview. Remember, a visa is not permission to enter the United States. Final authority to enter the U.S. rests with the INS at the port of entry.
Meeting with the consular officer prior to the interview allows parents to obtain a list of the visa requirements and necessary forms and provides an opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns. In addition, if time permits, an early meeting may allow the consular officer to see the child for whom the visa is necessary. "Visual inspection" of the child is a requirement. It may be more convenient for all parties involved for the prospective adoptive parents not to be distracted with the child(ren) during the final visa interview. Some consular sections schedule special times to handle orphan petitions, facilitating the work flow and insuring availability of consular staff and facilities for the adoptive parents and children.
Another visa requirement is the medical examination of the child by a designated physician. The physician conducting the examination must be approved by the U.S. embassy or consulate. The medical examination focuses primarily on detecting certain serious contagious diseases or disabilities that may be a basis for visa ineligibility. If the child is found to have any of these illnesses or disabilities, the child may still be issued a visa after the illness has been treated and is no longer contagious, or after a waiver of the visa eligibility is approved by the INS. If the physician or the consular official notes that the child has a serious disease or disability, the parents will be notified and asked if they wish to proceed with the child's immigration. Prospective adoptive parents should not rely on this medical examination to detect all possible disabilities or illnesses. You may wish to arrange an additional private medical examination if they have concerns about the child's health.
The fee for an immigrant visa is $200, which must be paid either in local currency or U.S. dollars in cash, money order, cashier's check or certified check. Neither personal checks nor credit cards are accepted.
The Visa Interview
The consular section will schedule the final visa interview once all the required documents have been provided and the file is complete.
This documentation includes:
- notification by the INS of the I-600 or I-600A approval
- final adoption decree or proof of custody from the foreign government
- the child's birth certificate
- the child's passport (from the country of the child's nationality)
- the completed and signed medical examination report
- necessary photographs of the child
- the visa application (Form OF 230)
- completed I-600 petition (if it was not previously approved by INS)
Although the final visa interview appears to involve a single action which may be completed quickly, the consular officer must perform several different steps required by law and regulation. The officer must review the I-600 petition, verify the child's status as an orphan, establish that the prospective parent(s) have legal custody, survey the child's medical condition and confirm that the child has the required travel documentation.
Questions concerning legal custody or proper documentation for the child must be resolved in accordance with the law of the country of the child's nationality or residence. Since requirements vary from country to country, the consular section can be helpful in explaining requirements in their local area. Nevertheless, the adoptive parent(s) or the adoption agent is responsible for meeting these requirements. As explained earlier, the child's ability to qualify for an immigrant visa as an orphan is determined by U.S. law. An adoption by a court decree or comparable order by a competent authority does not automatically qualify a child for an immigrant visa for entry into the United States.
The Orphan Definition
The consular officer is particularly concerned with 1) the identity of the child, 2) the child's status as an "orphan" as defined by the INA and 3) that the release by the sole surviving parent, if necessary, is "irrevocable and in writing." The documentation must satisfy these requirements. Information which casts doubt upon the child's eligibility as an orphan requires return of the petition to the approving INS office for reconsideration. If the adopting parent(s) submitted the I-600A to the INS in the United States and the approval notice was forwarded to the U.S. embassy or consulate, the consular officer must adjudicate the I-600 Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative. The consular officer has the authority, delegated by the INS, to adjudicate the I-600, relying upon the approved I-600A as demonstration of the suitability of the prospective adoptive parent(s) and their compliance with any applicable state pre-adoption requirements.
U.S. law distinguishes between children adopted overseas and children coming to the United States for adoption. Children fully adopted overseas receive IR-3 visas. To qualify for an IR-3, the child must have been seen by both parents prior to or during the adoption proceedings and the parents must meet all pre-adoption requirements of their state. Other orphan children, who are eligible for immigration, receive IR-4 visas and must be re-adopted after they enter the United States, in accordance with applicable state laws. Thus, before an IR-4 visa can be issued, the consular officer must be sure that pre-adoption requirements by the child's future state of residence have been met.
The Medical Examination
While the physician conducts the medical examination, the consular officer must complete the I-604 Report on Overseas Orphan Investigation. This report consists of a review of the facts and documents to verify that the child qualifies as an orphan. In addition, the consular officer ensures that the adoptive parents are aware of any medical problems which the medical examination may have uncovered. Only when this report is completed, can the consular officer finally approve the I-600 petition in those cases where the I-600 has not already been approved by INS. (Note: the I-600 petition can be filed overseas if at least one of the U.S. citizen adoptive parents is physically present and if INS has already approved an I-600A application).
Cases Referred to INS
In the majority of cases, the consular officer confirms the documentation and proceeds with the final visa processing. Usually, the final immigrant visa can be issued within 24 hours, although some consular sections have special visa issuance times. Occasionally, the I-604 Report does not confirm that the child is an orphan as defined by the INA. If this issue remains in question, the consular officer will provide the adoptive parents or their agent with an opportunity to submit additional information. If the outstanding questions can be answered, the case can be completed. If an issue cannot be resolved, however, the consular officer cannot approve the petition and must refer the petition to the appropriate INS office for adjudication.
When a petition has been referred to INS, questions about the status of the case must be addressed to the appropriate office of that agency. Since different INS offices can have jurisdiction, it is important to understand to which INS office the petition has been referred. If INS approves or reaffirms the petition, the consular officer can resume processing the case. If the petition is referred to INS because it was determined to be a case "not clearly approvable" by the U.S. embassy or consulate, several scenarios may occur:
1 ) INS can review the documentation, and reaffirm approval of the petition.
2 ) INS can review the documents and request that the consular officer conduct a field investigation to insure that no fraud or illegal activity was involved. The embassy or consulate reports its findings to the INS for a final decision.
3 ) INS can deny the petition.
If INS denies the petition, the adoptive parents can appeal the denial to the INS Associate Commissioner for Examinations, Administrative Appeals Office for a legal ruling. Alternatively, adoptive parents can discuss other options with the INS office having jurisdiction over their case.*
*In rare and exceptional circumstances, children deemed ineligible for admission to the United States may qualify for "humanitarian parole" and gain entry. Only INS has the authority to grant humanitarian parole.
IV. Prevention of Adoption Fraud
International adoptions have become a lucrative business because of the huge demand for adoptable children. The combination of people motivated by personal gain and parents desperate to adopt a child under any circumstances, creates the potential for fraudulent adoptions. Take care to avoid these adoption scams.
You can avoid the heartache of losing a potentially adoptable child by using only reputable agencies, attorneys, and facilitators. If the answers to your questions appear to be contradictory, vague, or unrealistic, be wary. The consular section in the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country of planned adoption can provide accurate information concerning local legal practices. If you have problems with agencies or intermediaries in the United States you should report these concerns immediately to the appropriate state authorities, i.e., your state social services office, District Attorney, Better Business Bureau, or state Attorney General's office. The INS should be notified of these concerns as well.
The lack of state regulatory requirements for international adoption agencies in some states has permitted some individuals, inexperienced in the area of foreign adoptions, to set up businesses. Some prospective adoptive parents are charged exorbitant fees. Two common abuses are 1) knowingly offering a supposedly healthy child for adoption who is later found to be seriously ill, and 2) obtaining prepayment for adoption of a nonexistent or ineligible child. In some countries, it is advisable to have the child examined by a physician before completing adoption procedures. This examination is not to be confused with the routine medical examination required after completion of the adoption for visa purposes. Some states have moved to revoke licenses or prosecute the individuals connected with these fraudulent activities after receiving complaints. However, it should be noted that most adoption practitioners in the United States are legitimate professionals with experience in domestic and international adoptions.
In the international area, the Department of State consistently takes a strong stand against fraudulent adoption procedures. This policy flows from our general obligation to respect host country laws, to discourage any illegal activities and to avoid the possibility that a country may prohibit international adoptions entirely. The Department of State has unfailingly expressed its support for measures taken by foreign states to reduce adoption abuses.
V. Validity of Foreign Adoptions in the United States
In most cases, the formal adoption of a child in a foreign court is legally acceptable in the United States. However, in the United States, a state court is not required to automatically recognize a foreign adoption decree. This does not suggest that the United States does not respect foreign procedures or recognize the authority of the foreign country in relation to the child. The status of the involved child can always be subject to challenge in state court unless an adoption decree is entered in a state in the United States. Many adoption practitioners recommend that the child adopted abroad be re-adopted in a court of his/her state of residence in the United States as a precautionary measure. Following a re-adoption in the state court, parents can request that a state birth certificate be issued. This should be recognized in all other U.S. states.
In some instances, re-adoption of the child in the United States is required. This often occurs if the adoptive parent(s) did not see the child prior to or during the full adoption proceedings abroad. In the case of a married couple, both parents must see the child before the U.S. visa can be issued if the child is to be considered "adopted abroad." Otherwise, the parent(s) must meet the pre-adoption requirements of their state of residence in order for the child to qualify for a U.S. visa to come to the U.S. for adoption under the appropriate state laws. This is true even if a full final adoption decree has been issued in the foreign country. Adoptive parent(s) should determine in advance the requirements of their own particular state of residence. This information is available through the state social services agency or your adoption practitioner.
VI. Naturalization of an Adopted Child
Who can apply?
Specific steps in the naturalization process must be taken for a child to become a U.S. citizen. U.S. laws make it possible for a child adopted abroad to be quickly naturalized as a U.S. citizen. On March 1, 1995, Section 322 of the INA was amended to make the application process for an alien child's citizenship certificate easier for adoptive parents.
How to Apply for Naturalization
The administrative process requires that the adoptive parent(s) file INS Form N-643, Application for Certificate of Citizenship on behalf of an Adopted Child, with the INS before the child is 18 years of age. The child does not become a U.S. citizen until Form N-643 is approved and the Certificate of Citizenship is issued. The application is filed at the INS office having jurisdiction over the applicant's place of residence.
VII. Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Where do I obtain information on adopting abroad ?
A: The Office of Children's Issues maintains a file of country-specific adoption information sheets. In addition, adoption agencies, parent support groups, adoption magazines and newsletters can provide a wealth of information. Talking with families who have adopted children and specialists in adoption issues can be a helpful measure to prepare for the issues involved with an international adoption.
Q: How can I check the credentials of an adoption provider?
A: There are several ways to investigate the credentials of an adoption provider before engaging its services. It is helpful to talk with other families or individuals in your adoptive support group who have had prior experience with the agency, attorney or individual you are planning to select. The Better Business Bureau may be able to advise you if there has been a negative report about a business but would not necessarily have information concerning individuals claiming to be adoption experts. The adoption section of the state social services office and the state Attorney General's office can usually be of assistance. Finally, ask for references and check them thoroughly.
Q: How should I prepare to travel abroad?
A: What you should take when traveling abroad will depend on the country (climate and season), the length of your stay, and the particulars of the child you will adopt (age, health, etc.). In countries with limited resources, it is advisable to bring supplies from the United States. In most countries disposable diapers and disposable bottles are unavailable or very expensive. A good travel agent should be able to provide information about the availability of products and services in a country. Alternatively, you might request information from the foreign embassy or consulate of the country to which you plan to travel. The foreign country's holidays can also affect court dates, office workdays, and the country's embassy or consulate can also provide you with this information.
Q: Is it safe to travel to . . . ?
A: The U.S. Department of State, Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management (ACS) issues Public Announcements and Travel Warnings for particular countries and Consular Information Sheets for all countries. (See Appendix C, Section I) For assistance from ACS, call 202-647-5225. You may also wish to register with the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign country where you plan to adopt.
Q: How should I approach the adoption process abroad?
A: Adoption can be an emotionally stressful process, particularly while facing the additional challenges of adjusting to another culture. Gathering information on the culture of the country prior to travel and even setting aside time for sight-seeing can reduce stress and make the experience more positive. It will also provide invaluable information and experiences to relate to your child in later years. If you become ill, the U.S. embassy or consulate can provide you with a list of local attorneys and hospitals to assist if necessary.
Q: How should I obtain multiple copies of foreign documents?
A: Before you depart the country with your child you should be sure to obtain several duplicate certified/authenticated copies of your child's foreign birth certificate, adoption decree and any other relevant documents. Often these documents are necessary at home and it can be difficult to obtain copies from the foreign government later.
Q: How can I obtain information concerning attorneys, interpreters or translators in a foreign country?
A: U.S. embassies and consulates maintain lists of English-speaking foreign attorneys and have information about interpreters and translators and can refer you to other sources. Copies of lists of attorneys are also available from the U.S. Department of State's Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management.
National Adoption Organizations and Parent Support Groups
*National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC)
P.O. Box 1182
Washington, DC 20013-1182
Tel: 703-352-3488 / 888-251-0075
Internet address: http://www.calib.com/naic
Internet e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
*This organization was established by Congress to provide the general public with easily accessible information on all aspects of adoption. NAIC publishes a variety of fact sheets on adoption issues, directories of adoption-related services, and a catalog of audiovisual materials on adoptions. NAIC does not place children for adoption or provide counseling. It does, however, make referrals for such services.
Adoptive Families of America
3333 Highway 100 North
Minneapolis, MN 55422
Committee for Single Adoptive Parents, Inc.
P.O. Box 15084
Chevy Chase, MD 20825
FACE (Families Adopting Children Everywhere)
P.O. Box 28058
Baltimore, MD 21239
Tel: 410-488-2656 (Help-line)
International Concerns Committee for Children
911 Cypress Drive
Boulder, CO 80303
Joint Council on International Children's Services
P.O. Box 5636
Washington, D.C. 20016
*North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC)
970 Raymond Avenue, Suite 106
St. Paul, MN 55114
*This organization can provide a list of parent support groups in a specific region of the United States.
National Council for Adoption
1930 17th Street N.W.
Washington D.C. 20009
Adoptive Families (formerly OURS magazine)
Complimentary copy available by calling the above number
Open Door Society of Massachusetts
Single Parents With Adopted Kids
4108 Washington Rd. #101
Kenosha, WI 53144
Adamec, Christine and Pierce, William L. The Encyclopedia of Adoption. Facts on
File, Inc.: June 1991.
Adamec, Christine. There Are Babies To Adopt. Windsor Publishing
Alexander-Roberts, Colleen. The Essential Adoption Handbook. Taylor Publishing
Erichsen, Heino and Nelson-Erichsen, Jean. How To Adopt Internationally:
A Guide for Agency-Directed & Independent Adoption. Los Ninos
International Adoption & Information Center: 1993.
Gilman, Lois. The Adoption Resource Book: All the Things You Need to Know & Ought to Know about Creating an Adoptive Family. Harper Collins
Publishers, Inc.: 1987.
Independent Adoption Manual. Advocate Press: June 1993.
Knoll, Jean and Murphy, Mary-Kate. International Adoption: Sensitive Advice
for Prospective Parents. Chicago Review Press: 1994.
Hicks, Randall B. ADOPTING IN AMERICA: How to Adopt Within One Year (revised
1996-97 edition). WordSlinger Press: 1995.
Hicks, Randall B. Adoption Stories for Young Children. WordSlinger Press: 1995.
Wirth, Eileen and Worden, Joan. How to Adopt a Child from Another Country.
Abingdon Press: 1993.
Adoption of Older Children
Jewett, Claudia. Adopting the Older Child. Harvard Common Press: 1978.
Kadushin, Alfred. Adopting Older Children. Columbia University Press: 1970.
Mansfield, Gianforte and Waldmann. Don't Touch My Heart - Healing the Pain
of an Unattached Child. Pinon Press: 1994.
Bloom, Suzanne. A Family for Jamie: An Adoption Story. Crown Books for
Young Readers: 1991.
Krementz, Jill. How It Feels to Be Adopted. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.: 1988.
Cultural and Racial Differences
Erichsen, Heino R. and Nelson, Erichsen, Jean. Butterflies in the Wind:
Spanish-Indian Children with White Parents. Los Ninos International
Adoption & Information Center: 1992.
Single Parent Adoption
Marindin, Hope, ed. Handbook for Single Adoptive Parents. Committee for
Single Adoptive Parents: 1992.
Parenting and Adjustment
Bartels-Rabb, Lisa and Van Gulden, Holly. Real Parents, Real Children:
Parenting The Adopted Child. Crossroad Publishing Co.: 1993.
Brodzinsky, David; Schechter, Marshall; and Henig, Robin. Being Adopted:
The Lifelong Search for Self. Doubleday & Company, Inc.: 1993.
Register, Cheri. Are Those Kids Yours?: American Families with Children
Adopted from Other Countries. Free Press: 1990.
Additional Information on Adoptions and Foreign Travel
Section 1: Government Information
Automated Fax Service
A number of Office of Children's Issues adoption flyers are available by automated fax for anyone with a fax machine equipped with a telephone handset. The telephone number for all information through the autofax is 202-647-3000. Callers should follow the prompts to select the information that they wish to receive. All Travel Warnings, Public Announcements and Consular Information Sheets are also available through this service.
General information on international adoption and specific information on adoption in a number of foreign countries and on foreign travel is also available via Internet. The Internet address for the Bureau of Consular Affairs is http://travel.state.gov.
Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB)
If you have a personal computer, modem and communications software, you can access the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board or CABB. The service will also provide information about foreign travel and is free of charge.
Modem Number: 202-647-9225
Modem Speed: Will accommodate 300, 1200, 2400, 9600 or 14400 bps
Terminal Communications Program: Set to N-8-1 (No parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit)
Mail In Requests
All of the flyers available on the automated fax service are also available in printed form. The order form, section two of Appendix C, can be used to obtain these flyers. Simply circle the flyer(s) that you wish and send the order form to: Office of Children's Issues, Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington D.C. 20520-4818. Please enclose a large stamped, self-addressed envelope. For printed copies of Travel Warnings, Public Announcements, Consular Information Sheets and other general travel-related information, send a 8 1/2 X 11 inch self-addressed envelope with $3 in stamps attached to the Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management, Room 4811A, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818.
Section II: Country-Specific Adoption Information Flyers
To order by mail, simply circle the flyer(s) that you wish and send the order form with your name and address to The Office of Children's Issues, Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington D.C. 20520-4818. Please enclose an 8 1/2 X 11 inch stamped, self-addressed envelope.
Section III: TWENTY-FIVE SOURCE COUNTRIES
Russia 3,816*Statistics compiled from U.S. Department of State Report of Immediate Relative Visas Issued, period from October 1, 1996 to September 30, 1997 (Fiscal Year 1997).
S. Korea 1,654
Section IV: Document Checklist
Some or all of the following items may be required by the adoption agency, attorney, U.S. embassy, INS or the state.
- Birth Certificate
- Child Abuse Clearance
- Divorce/Death Certificate
- Financial Statement
- Foreign Adoption/Custody Decree
- Foreign Birth Certificate for the Child
- Foreign Passport for the Child
- Home Study
- Letters of Recommendation
- "Orphan" Status Document
- Photographs of the Family
- Photographs of the Child
- Physician's Report
- Physician's Report of the Child
- Police Certificate
- Power of Attorney
- Verification of Employment
- 1040- Front Two Pages
Some countries require legalization of documents. This process is called authentication. Generally, U.S. civil records, such as birth, death, and marriage certificates must bear the seal of the issuing office, state capitol, then by the U.S. Department of State Authentications Office. The U.S. Department of State Authentications Office is located at 518 23rd Street,, N.W., State Annex 1, Washington, D.C. 20520, tel: 202-647-5002. Walk-in service is available 8 a.m. to 12 noon, Monday-Friday, except holidays. The Department charges $4.00 per document for this service, payable in the form of a check drawn on a U.S. bank or money order made payable to the Department of State.