International Adoption Programs for California Families
Around the world, millions of children are waiting for a permanent family. Children of all ages, infants and up, are waiting to be adopted in countries such as China, Hong Kong, South Korea, India, Ethiopia, and others throughout South America, Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa. Unlike in the United States, most of these children are growing up in orphanages. As a result, families who feel called to orphan adoption often choose to adopt internationally.
Read on to learn more about overseas adoption and the services FCCA provides to families adopting from around the world.
How to Adopt a Child from Another Country
International adoption is the adventure of a lifetime — but while this is an exciting process, it is also a complex one. Hopeful parents must coordinate not only with the one or two U.S. adoption agencies and the U.S. government, but also with the government of another country.
The international adoption process will vary based on the country where you choose to adopt. However, the following provides a general outline of how to adopt a child internationally.
1. Choose a country from which to adopt.
There are many countries to adopt from, and the first step in the international adoption process is choosing the one that is right for your family. You may make your decision based on a number of factors, including:
- The eligibility requirements to adopt from a country
- Program costs and travel expenses
- The country’s culture — you will want to incorporate this culture and traditions into your home and family for the child’s benefit.
2. Choose a child-placing program.
Once you have selected a country from which to adopt, you can begin searching for international adoption agencies that have programs in that country. For example, if you are interested in adopting from China, you will search for a child-placing agency that has a Chinese adoption program.
FCCA has a direct placement program in Hong Kong for special needs children. If you are interested in Hong Kong adoption, FCCA will serve as your child-placing professional.
With a few exceptions for relative adoptions, FCCA families who want to adopt from any country besides Hong Kong must select another child-placing agency to provide you with a child referral, assist with travel arrangements and coordinate the finalization of the adoption in the foreign country, if applicable. However, FCCA will still provide the home study, post-placement and re-adoption services you need to complete your adoption.
Learn more below about adopting a child from Hong Kong through our program or adopting a child from China through other international adoption agencies.
FCCA’s Hong Kong Adoption Program
FCCA works in partnership with Mother’s Choice to assist families interested in adopting orphans from Hong Kong. The children range in age from 2-8 years old, and many have Down syndrome.
As your child-placing agency, FCCA will provide all of the services you need during the Hong Kong adoption process, including:
- Pre-adoption education and training
- Home study services
- Child referral
- Assistance with travel arrangements or coordination of an escort to travel to Hong Kong on your behalf
- Post-placement services and finalization
- And more
To be eligible for this adoption program, Hong Kong requires that the parents must have been married for at least two years. Age and family size limits are flexible, with preference for smaller families.
Other International Child-Placing Programs
Families should select a reputable, licensed, and preferably Hague-accredited agency to assist them with the child referral and placement process.
Each child-placing agency and country has its own requirements for adoptive applicants regarding age, marital status, family size, income and more. FCCA does not set these requirements, so adoptive applicants should research carefully to determine whether they meet the criteria for the country and agency they select.
The following child-placing agencies are commonly used by FCCA families:
- Americans for International Aid and Adoptions
- Children’s Home Society and Family Services
- Chinese Children Adopt International
- Dillon International, Inc.
- Families Thru International Adoption
- Gladney Center for Adoption
- Great Wall of China Adoption
- Nightlight Christian Adoptions
- Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children
- Wide Horizons for Children
- World Association for Children and Parents
This is not an exhaustive list, but it includes the agencies with whom FCCA already has a written cooperative agreement. Families may select an agency that is not on this list, provided that the agency and FCCA can enter into a written working agreement as required by law.
3. Complete the home study.
Once you have selected a country and a child-placing agency, FCCA will provide you with pre-adoption education, a home study assessment, and directions for completion of the necessary U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adoption paperwork. FCCA can provide home study services for any country as long as your child-placing agency is Hague-accredited.
In addition, FCCA will assist you with the preparation of your “adoption dossier,” which is a large packet that includes your home study, identification documents and other items required by the country from which you are adopting. Your child-placing agency will send you an adoption dossier checklist to assist in this process. The dossier paperwork will be sent to the California Secretary of State’s office for apostilling and authentication, then to your child-placing agency and onto the child’s country for approval.
4. Wait for a child referral.
After you have completed the USCIS process for adoption approval and have met the requirements of your child’s birth country, you are ready to be matched to an adoption opportunity. Different child-placing agencies have different matching processes; however, when you receive a referral, it will usually include the following information:
- The child’s name, date of birth and picture
- Any available medical information
- Psychological and social information
- Reasons the child has been matched to you
You will be able to accept or refuse the referral based on whether you feel you can meet the child’s needs. When you choose to move forward with an adoption opportunity, you will need to complete additional paperwork to have the child approved to adopt and apply for his or her visa.
5. Travel to adopt your child.
Your child-placing agency will coordinate your travel dates and experience in the child’s country of origin. In some cases, you may be able to send a representative on your behalf to escort your child to the United States. For example, if you adopt through our Hong Kong program, you may choose to have an FCCA staff member travel to Hong Kong for you.
During your stay in your child’s birth country (typically 1-4 weeks), you will be able to get to know your child, begin the legal adoption process and meet with the country’s adoption authorities before returning home. You may or may not finalize the adoption in that country, depending on their adoption process.
6. Finalize the adoption.
After returning home, you will either need to finalize the adoption (if your child received an IH-4 or IR-4 visa) or complete a recommended re-adoption (if your child received an IH-3 or IR-3 visa).
Re-adoption is important for several reasons. First, it is required in some cases for the child to become a U.S. citizen. Second, even when it is not required, the re-adoption process results in a new California birth certificate (in English) naming you as the parents of your child.
In most cases, three to six post-placement visits over a period of six months to several years will be required to finalize your adoption or to satisfy the requirements of the child’s sending country. After you complete all the required visits and FCCA submits the reports to the placing agency and sending country, FCCA will assist California families with finalizing the adoption or re-adoption in court.
Even after the entire international adoption process has been completed, FCCA is committed to supporting your family. Whether you need referrals for specific services, want to talk about bonding issues, or want to share an exciting milestone, we are here for you. We hope you will stay connected to us for a long time!
How Much Does International Adoption Cost?
Your total international adoption cost will be determined by a number of factors, including the country from which you adopt, your placing agency’s program fees and variable travel expenses. However, families using FCCA’s foreign adoption services can expect to pay the following directly to FCCA:
- FCCA home study fee: $2,200
- FCCA post-placement services: $600 for the first visit, and $200 for each additional visit.
- Additional costs for mileage, fingerprinting and medical exams
In addition to the above costs, the fees for our Hong Kong adoption program include:
- Program fee with FCCA home study: $4,000
- Program fee with a non-FCCA home study: $6,000
- USCIS adoption fees: about $1,200
- Miscellaneous expenses: about $800
- Travel expenses: variable – includes the child’s travel expenses and your own travel costs, or the cost for an FCCA escort from Hong Kong to San Francisco, California.
Because of the many professionals, services and travel expenses required in intercountry adoption, overall international adoption costs can be significant. However, many international adoption grants and other financing options are available to families who are adopting internationally.
There are many factors to consider before beginning the international adoption process. FCCA provides extensive pre-adoption training to help you learn about all of your options, as well as the challenges and rewards of adopting overseas.