International Adoption

Loel Coleman - International AdoptionAs a result of the United Nations Hague Convention on Inter-Country adoptions, international adoptions have been all but halted. In a few non – Hague signatory countries, adoption is possible but lengthy waiting periods are required. For more on the current situation please go to this link –

One exception seems to be Ethiopia which has an adoption procedure that is fairly quick and standard.

We can still complete an inter-country adoption, but the problems created by the UN Hague Convention must be taken into account by those undertaking one.

Here is the basic process:


We compile your dossier, submit it to the U.S. State Department and get your pre-approved for your adoption.

All international adoptions include at a minimum two phases. The first is gaining approval as an adoptive parent by the U.S. Department of State. This basically involves compiling your “dossier.”

This file contains all kinds of personal data upon which the State Department can asses your fitness as a parent. Your dossier will contain many documents.

One of the most important is the Home Study. It is done by a licensed social worker who comes to your home, interviews you and does some background research on your circumstances.

They then prepare a report and recommendation which is the home study. Other documents in the dossier will include your birth certificate, marriage certificates, divorce decrees for any prior marriages, health letter, vaccination information for other children in the household, proof of income, and witness statements.

These are the basic documents included in the dossier. The State Department may ask for additional documents and/ or supplemental information. Most of the documents must be certified by the governmental office issuing them.

If a married couple is seeking approval, then documents relating each one are required It takes an average of 90 days to obtain pre approval once submitted to the State Department.

NOTE – The National Adoption Council of Guatemala is once again accepting applications for adoption from U.S. citizens. The dossier can be compiled in anticipation of a reopening of adoptions from Guatemala in 2009.


We oversee the foreign adoption process from start to finish and insure that all additional requirements of the U.S. State Department are met to get your adopted child safely home.

The second phase of an international adoption includes all of the things that must be done to complete the adoption in the foreign country. The first order of business is getting a referral of a child you wish to adopt. This can be done while awaiting preapproval from the State Department.

Also, during this phase, the documents compiled for your dossier are being translated for submission to the foreign authorities for approval of the adoption in that country. Any other documents requested or required for the process in foreign country are also submitted at this time.

We locate and investigate qualified, ethical attorneys in foreign country with whom to work in completing the adoption process in that country. Traditionally there have been two routes an adoption could take in Latin American countries. One is through the Court System. The other is done outside the courts under a Notorial System.

The importance of this is in the time required to get through each. To go through the courts can often take up to two years The notorial system usually can be completed in a year or less. Suffice it to say, the notorial system is the preferred path to take.

Once the adoption is approved in the foreign country, a new birth certificate must be obtained for the child. With this a passport is obtained. Then these documents along with all other documents created during the adoption process must be translated and all goes back to the State Department for review and approval of the adoption and issuance of a visa for the adopted child.

This is a simplified description of what is involved but it gives the basics in what the process entails. Other requirements include two separate DNA tests in situations where the birth mother is relinquishing her rights, interviews with the birth mother to insure that it is her wish to give the child for adoption, medical exams, various fingerprint sessions, interviews with adopting parents and sometimes other things that the State Department may request.