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Procedure for a child (non-Hague, non orphan)

I adopted a child from non-Hague country. We completed the adoption process in the daughter’s country. She is now legally my child in her country. The problem is, she was not an orphan. So, it seems that we have to wait for 2 years (2 year custody) before she becomes a US citizen. What does this mean? It is a very strange law. Can we not go back to the US for 2 years, unless we leave her in her country? Or does one of the parents have to stay in the child country for 2 years, which make a family separated? 

The second question is, how can we establish the parents-child relationship in the US (how can I proof that the child is mine)? Do we have to re-adopt a child in the US?

The last question is, how can my daughter get a SSN before she becomes a US citizen?


very few children adopted domestically or internationally are orphans. I have no idea re US custody/immigration rules. Is there a reason you didn’t use a Hague approved country/agency? Those rules were meant to protect children.

Are you back in USA? How did you get the child into the country?

Posted by Regina on Apr 24, 2018 at 10:56pm

I’m out of my zone here—as a former foster youth I usually just comment on foster posts—but for what it’s worth, you probably need to contact the US immigration service to find out your specific situation:

In addition, once you get approved and bring the child to the US, don’t assume they are automatically a citizen—you will probably have to go through another immigration process. Many, many international adoptees who are now adults are being deported because they never became US Citizens.
Your best bet is probably to contact the US Embassy or Consulate where you are living.

Posted by NoraT on Apr 29, 2018 at 10:12pm

Thank you for your replies. I call the US Embassy and also went there. They just told me to hire a lawyer. I was hoping someone who was in the same situation before could share her story or give me some suggestions…

Posted by SunnyDay on May 02, 2018 at 1:52am
Posted by SunnyDay on May 02, 2018 at 1:52am
Posted by sak9645 on May 03, 2018 at 8:30pm
Posted by sak9645 on May 03, 2018 at 8:30pm

unfortunately, there are only three ways to bring an adopted child to the U.S.  One applies only to adoptions from Hague countries.  The other applies only to non-Hague countries where the parent has followed the I-600A/I-600 process and the child qualifies as an “eligible orphan”.  So you are left with only the third option, which is called the “immediate relative” process.

Before I discuss that process, let me quickly remind you that the term “orphan” is used in a special way in the US Immigration and Nationality Act.  Some children that might not be considered orphans the way most people define the term are orphans according to the law, so I want to be sure that your child did not qualify. 

To be considered an orphan under immigration law, the child cannot have been living with two parents at the time of adoption.  The child must be either:

1.  A child living with a single parent who cannot support him/her at a level considered normal in the foreign country (not the U.S.); or,
2.  The child of two deceased parents.  Death certificates must be available; or,
3.  A child who has been abandoned, and whose parents cannot be located.
4.  A child who has been removed from his parents, who have had their parental rights terminated by a court for reasons such as abuse or neglect.
5.  A child who has been legally relinquished by his parents, who have not had contact with him/her for a significant period of time (usually at least a year).

As you have already learned, an adopted child can be brought to the U.S. as an immediate relative ONLY if you have had physical and legal custody of him/her for at least two years.  At that point, you can file the I-130 with the USCIS, with all necessary documentation.  You can download that form and the instructions for it from the USCIS website.

Basically, the U.S. wants all adoption cases to follow the I-600 or I—800 process to ensure that the adoption has been legal and ethical, and has not been conducted in a way that is designed to skirt other U.S. immigration laws.  The immediate relative process, while not ideal, is basically a “last resort” option for people who adopt children who do not qualify as orphans, are over age 16, or have been adopted without following the I-600 or I-800 process.  It is not going to be easy or convenient.

As a result, unless you are willing to live with the child overseas for two years, you will have to overturn your adoption and return the child.  You can check with the USCIS to determine exactly how “living with the child” will be interpreted.  As an example, you will need to find out whether you can occasionally visit the U.S. (without the child, who will not qualify for any sort of visa), whether one parent can live overseas while the other returns home, etc.

Be aware that, even if you do choose to live overseas with the child for two years, the child will not qualify for automatic citizenship.  The child will enter the U.S. on an IR-2 visa, and you will then need to naturalize him/her.

As far as proving that the child is yours, once you reach the U.S., you will have the foreign birth certificate, foreign adoption decree, and foreign passport, with their translations, which will be needed to secure the child’s visa and to apply for the child’s citizenship.  Those documents are, theoretically, sufficient, but most people aren’t altogether comfortable with them.

Most people who adopt a foreign-born child do a readoption or a recognition of the foreign adoption in their home state.  Each state has its own process for readoption and/or recognition.  In some states that offer recognition, the process is very simple and a lawyer is not needed; you go to a state office, fill out a form, supply a variety of documents, and then go home; a recognition statement will be sent to you.  On the other hand, in some states that offer readoption, the process is almost like a domestic adoption.  You need a series of post-placement visits by a social worker, lots of paperwork, and so on, and using an attorney may be advisable, even if not mandatory.  In most cases, however, the process is somewhere between these two extremes.

Once you are in the U.S. with your child, you can get a SSN for him/her before he/she is naturalized, as long as you can prove that he/she is in the U.S. as a legal immigrant.  Consult the Social Security Administration with regard to the documentation you need to provide.

Although an attorney is not necessary, if you plan to follow the immediate relative process, you may feel more comfortable if you use one, especially given your concerns about living overseas with the child for two years.  Be very sure to use a competent immigration attorney with adoption experience.  I would be happy to refer you to someone, if you wish.  I have no professional or personal connection with her, but she is one of the best in the U.S.

If you plan to adopt again, I do hope that you will use the I-600 or i-800 process, which will make your life so much easier.

Best wishes to you.


Posted by sak9645 on May 03, 2018 at 8:30pm

good info sak9645

Posted by Regina on May 03, 2018 at 11:02pm

Hi Sharon, thank you very very much for your detailed info. It seems what I had read on the website is the same as what you wrote…. Very strange law. We are a family, but the law make a family apart.

One question:
My understanding about I-600 and I-800 are for immigration of an orphan. I was wondering if I can readopt the child in the US before completing the 2 years requirements, and if it helps for getting the SSN and immigration. She can visit the US using the B2 visa (visiting relative visa) or visa waiver program (I confirmed this with the US embassy). So, I was wondering if I could readopt her while she is visiting the US….

Can you refer me the attorney you mentioned about?

Thank you very much.

Posted by SunnyDay on May 04, 2018 at 12:13am

The law was passed to protect children (many were kidnapped to adoption) birth parents (often lied to. being told child was going to school and would be returned, and children who were sometimes conceived to be sold. I could go one with the many abuses)
and adoptive parents who were also often lied to (like being told birth parents were dead when they were not)

So countries got together to try to standardize rules. Many countries closed (Russia, Guatemala, Ethiopia) because of these abuses which makes it less likely children will get a home.

So that is why the laws were passed not to keep you from your child.

Posted by Regina on May 04, 2018 at 2:34pm

Unfortunately, you will not be able to do a readoption until you are home with your child permanently. There are many reasons.  For one thing, readoptions will require proof of lawful admission of the child to the U.S. as a permanent resident, which you won’t have until you get your child’s immigrant visa and bring your child through Immigration in the U.S. airport where you land..  Many readoptions will require a certain number of post-placement visits by a social worker in your home state to see how well the child is adjusting. A few will require an updated homestudy.  And so on.

I must say that whoever told you that getting a visitor’s visa or visa waiver for your child is possible, is most likely wrong.  The USCIS is extremely careful in granting such visas, because of the risk that the child will overstay the visa and disappear into the underground US economy. Especially under the current Administration in Washington, the rules for all sorts of temporary and immigrant visas are tightening.  Knowing that you adopted a child who does not qualify for an immigrant visa until you have lived abroad together for two years, it is almost certain that the USCIS will suspect that you are trying to circumvent the visa requirements by applying for a visitor’s visa for your child.

This is not wild guessing.  Already, for example, there is a woman in my neighborhood, who attempted to get a student visa for her goddaughter from a Latin American country.  She met all the financial and other requirements for sponsorship, the school program was willing to accept the girl and was qualified to accept foreign students, and the girl appeared to meet all the requirements. Unfortunately, the application was denied because the child did not own property in her home country or have other strong ties there, and there were fears that the woman would try to keep her in the U.S. permanently.

As far as Social Security, it will require proof of legal IMMIGRANT status in order to issue a SSN.  Once you are home with your child, you will simply go down to your local Social Security office with the child’s foreign birth certificate, foreign adoption decree, foreign passport with the “A-Number” in it, and some ID for yourself.  There may be some additional documentation required because you did not follow the I-600 or I-800 process. 

You don’t have to readopt before you get your child’s SSN.  The only thing that will be an issue is that the card may be issued in the child’s foreign name, unless the American name is on some of the child’s foreign paperwork.  But that’s not really a big problem.  For filing taxes or adding the child to your health insurance, you can just list the foreign name with the American one in parentheses, or vice versa.  When you readopt, you can have the judge add to the decree a sentence that changes the child’s legal name.  At that point, you can go back to Social Security and fill out a name correction form, presenting the judge’s order.

As your child will not be an automatic citizen, you will need to go through the naturalization process.  You can read about it on the USCIS website.  Once your child is naturalized, you can then go to Social Security and do a status change, so that your child will be eligible for the few benefits that require U.S. citizenship, such as a survivor benefit if you or your spouse should pass away.

As I’ve indicated before, I am not an attorney, just an old adoptive Mom, a former head of an adoption-related organization, and, more recently, involved in trying to help a family member obtain a green card.

If you decide to go with an adoption/immigration attorney, the best one I know is Irene Steffas.  Here is her contact information:

Steffas & Associates, P.C.
4343 Shallowford Rd, Building H-1
Marietta, GA 30062
Office Telephone: (770) 642-6075
Fax: (770) 642-9162
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Irene is an expert on the Hague Convention on international adoption and has advised the U.S. government and various foreign governments on the implementation of Hague-compliant procedures.  She has also spoken on the subject at conferences of legal, medical, and adoption professionals.  She is one of the few attorneys in the U.S. who is approved to conduct Hague adoptions.

However, Irene’s practice is not limited to Hague adoptions.  Her practice involves people who are completing their families through domestic adoption, both Hague and non-Hague international adoption, assisted reproduction, and surrogacy.  She, herself, is an adoptive Mom.  She handles visa applications and appeals, and works with families on citizenship issues.  She handles some non-adoption issues as well, such as fiancée visas and permanent resident applications for undocumented minors. 

If Irene, herself, or a member of her staff cannot help you, I am sure that she can refer you to someone else, perhaps someone in your state.  If you will let me know your state of residence, perhaps I can think of someone, also.

Please keep in touch as your situation evolves.  If you wish to talk with me in a more private forum, send me a PM or email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Posted by sak9645 on May 09, 2018 at 1:47am

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