Adoption is a wonderful way to connect prospective parents and orphans in order to start a new family. Children can be adopted from another country or from another state. This adds another layer of complexity to an already complicated area of law. As a result, if you are thinking of adopting a child from outside Texas, you should consult with a qualified family law attorney with experience in international and interstate adoptions.
Texas fully recognizes overseas adoptions, subject to U.S. and international law. International law mainly references the Hague Convention with regard to international adoptions. The Hague Convention is a multilateral international agreement involving the safeguarding of international adoptions. Countries that did not execute and ratify the Hague Convention operate under their own rules regarding adoptions between foreign states. Therefore, prospective parents should first determine what adoption rules apply to a prospective adoption.
Which Legal Framework Governs Prospective Adoptive Parents in The U.S.?
Prospective adoptive parents who wish to adopt a child residing in a nation that is a signatory to the Hague Convention (including the U.S.) must adhere to the Convention’s rules and procedures governing international adoptions. In contrast, prospective adoptive parents want to adopt a child residing in a nation that isn’t party to the Hague will need to follow the adoption rules of the child’s country of residence.
Signatory states to the Hague Convention must recognize special immigration categories available for internationally adopted children, including:
- IH-3 visas: Children adopted from a Hague Convention country may enter the U.S. with an IH-3 visa providing automatic U.S. citizenship without delay.
- IH-4 visas: Children arriving in the U.S. as an orphan for adoption by U.S. citizen parents are given an IH-4 visa. It also applies to finalized adoptions from non-Hague Convention nations. An adopted child with an IH-4 visa receives a green card after admission to the U.S. without automatically qualifying for a certificate of citizenship.
An adoption order from one of the 50 states is valid in any of the other states. Texas law recognizes the validity of foreign adoption orders. Under the Texas Family Code, Section 162.023, an adoption order rendered to a Texas resident by a foreign country “shall be accorded full faith and credit by the courts of this state and enforced as if the order were rendered by a court in this state ….”
Deciding Between Domestic Adoption & International Adoption
International adoption and domestic/interstate adoption each have their own pros and cons. This could vary from parent to parent depending on their personal values and preferences.
Among the factors parents should evaluate when adopting are:
- Cost: A domestic adoption can cost anywhere between $30,000 to $50,000, while an international adoption can cost between $32,000 and $66,000.
- Turn-around times: Most domestic adoptions take about a year or less for processing. In international adoption situations, the wait time can vary wildly between countries. Parents should look into the potential time constraints that may apply in the country from which they wish to adopt.
- The prospective child’s age: Domestic adoptions allow couples to adopt newborn children. Conversely, international adoptions for newborn infants are less common.
- Legal requirements: Although adoption requirements among U.S. states can slightly vary (e.g. minimum age to adopt), is essentially uniform across the country. However, international adoption procedures and requirements can vary wildly between different countries.
- Travel requirements: Interstate and international adoptions tend to involve some amount of travel for the child and the prospective parents. Regarding domestic adoptions, parents usually travel to the state where the child resides. It’s becoming more common for adoptive parents to personally witness their adoptive child’s birth.
Ultimately, the choice between international and domestic adoption is within the prospective parents’ discretion. It is a good idea for adoptive parents to familiarize themselves with the details and requirements of their situations. Luckily, at Walters Gilbreath, PLLC we have valuable experience working with adoption cases for Houston residents.
For more information please call (844) 451-1220 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation with us today.