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"Professional and caring orphan advocates and highly dedicated to facilitating adoptions in the Caucasus region."
—George S. Yacoubian, Jr., Ph.D., LL.M. President and Founder of Society for Orphan Armenian Relief




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Adoption Terminology

"A" Number: Alien Registration Number found in your child's passport. The A-number is written into the child's passport when you or your escort goes through immigration on entry into the US.

Abandoned or Foundling: A child that has been abandoned or relinquished by the birth parent(s) to the country's social services/adoption authorities.

Accredited Agency: An accredited agency is an adoption service provider who has been accredited by either the Council on Accreditation (COA) or the Colorado Department of Human Services (CO) to provide adoption services in the United States for cases subject to the regulations set forth by the Hague Adoption Convention. An accredited agency does not include a temporarily accredited agency. There are more than 200 accredited adoption service providers in the U.S.

Accredited Body: An accredited body is an adoption agency which has been through a process of accreditation including meeting criteria for accreditation imposed by the accrediting country, and can perform certain functions of the Convention in the place of, or in conjunction with, the U.S. Central Authority.

Accrediting Entity: The Council on Accreditation (COA) and the Colorado Department of Human Services (CO) are the two organizations that have been designated by the U.S. Secretary of State to accredit adoption service providers in the United States for cases subject to the Hague Adoption Convention.

Adoption: “Adoption is a legal process which creates the relationship of parent and child between individuals who are not each other's biological parent and child. Upon issuance of a judicial decree of adoption, the legal relationship of the adopted child and its biological parents and other members of its original family is completely severed. Adopted children become, for all legal purposes, the children of the adoptive parents." Joan H. Hollinger, 'Introduction to Adoption Law and Practice,' Adoption Law and Practice ed. Joan H. Hollinger (New York: Matthew Bender, 1989), 1-1.

Adoption Agency:  A public or private entity authorized to assume legal guardianship and to facilitate the adoptive placement of children. Licensing of adoption agencies is through state mandate. Hence, qualification requirements and other guidelines vary according to jurisdictional standards.

Adoption Court: There are several key legal entities involved in the intercountry adoption process. State courts play dual roles-also as an adoption court-holding legal jurisdiction over the adoption or the grant of custody for the purpose of adoption.

Adoption Decree: The document issued by the court when an adoption is finalized. The adoption decree states that that the adoptee is the legal child of the adoptive parents.

Adoption Record: In an adoption case, an adoption record is considered to be any information, supporting documents, or items related to a specific Convention adoption of a child including, but not limited to, photographs, videos, correspondence, personal effects, medical and social information, and any other information about the child. These records are received or maintained by an agency, person, or public domestic authority. We all recognize the importance of keeping accurate and up-to-date records.

Adoption Service(s): There are six major services provided by adoption service providers: (1) Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption; (2) Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption; (3) Performing a background study on a child or a home study on a prospective adoptive parent(s), and reporting on such a study; (4) Making non-judicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for the child; (5) Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption; or (6) When necessary because of a disruption before final adoption, assuming custody and providing (including facilitating the provision of) child care or any other social service pending an alternative placement.

Affidavit: A legal document in which the party who makes it swears that the information contained in the document is true, and correct to the best of their knowledge.

Affidavit of Support: An I-864 Form, which is basically a statement verifying that you have sufficient financial means to provide for a child.

Article 16 Report: (1) If the Central Authority of the State of origin is satisfied that the child is adoptable, it shall - a) prepare a report including information about his or her identity, adoptability, background, social environment, family history, medical history including that of the child's family, and any special needs of the child; b) give due consideration to the child's upbringing and to his or her ethnic, religious and cultural background; c) ensure that consents have been obtained in accordance with Article 4; and d) determine, on the basis in particular of the reports relating to the child and the prospective adoptive parents, whether the envisaged placement is in the best interests of the child. (2) It shall transmit to the Central Authority of the receiving State its report on the child, proof that the necessary consents have been obtained and the reasons for its determination on the placement, taking care not to reveal the identity of the mother and the father if, in the State of origin, these identities may not be disclosed.

Apostille: An authenticating seal placed on a document by the state Secretary of State where the document was issued. Certain countries only accept this type of authentication on documents.

Approved Home Study: An approved home study is a comprehensive review of the home environment of the child's prospective adoptive parents that has been: (1) Completed by an accredited adoption service provider; (2) Approved by an accredited adoption service provider. One of the most critical elements of the intercountry adoption process is the approved home study.

Attachment & Bonding: A child's formation of stable emotional connections with primary care givers and significant people in his/her life. If a child does not establish these connections he/she may later have difficulties with social relationships.

Authentications: A generic name for getting the proper seals and or certifications from specific authorities for international adoption purposes (Dossier). This could include includes certifications, notaries, and/or apostilles depending on country requirements.

Adoption Service Provider (ASP): any entity providing adoption services.

Background Check: There are several kinds of background checks & clearances that may be required. Most states require a state criminal and child abuse clearance for people wishing to adopt. This is usually done by submitting fingerprint cards/getting electronically fingerprinted. In addition, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducts their own criminal clearance checks through the FBI. In addition to any state required fingerprinting, you will be fingerprinted at the USCIS regional/sub office closest to your home.

Case Registry: In compliance with the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000, the U.S. Secretary of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security jointly established the Case Registry, an adoption records system. Also referred to as the Adoption Tracking System (ATS).

Central Authority: The designated authority within the sending country that administrates and oversees the adoption process or the Department of State for the USA.

Central Authority Function: Knowing the U.S. Department of State is the Central Authority for the United States, Central Authority function is any duty required under the Convention to be carried out, directly or indirectly, by a Central Authority.

Certificate of US Citizenship: In the past, adoptive parents had to apply for naturalization for their foreign-born children and children did not acquire US citizenship until the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved the application. Under current laws your child's US citizenship status is no longer dependent on USCIS approving a naturalization application. If you completed a full and final adoption abroad, your child is automatically a US citizen on the day he/she is admitted to the US as an immigrant. If you complete the adoption/re-adopt your child after your child has been admitted to the US as an immigrant (such as when an escort is used), your child automatically becomes a citizen on the day the full and final adoption is completed in the US. USCIS does not automatically provide adoptive parents with documentation of their child's citizenship. If you want proof of your child's U.S. citizenship, you may obtain a Certificate of Citizenship from USCIS and/or a U.S. passport from the Department of State. (You do not need a USCIS Certificate of Citizenship issued by to obtain a US passport for your child.) If you want a Certificate of Citizenship for your child, file USCIS Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship in Behalf of an Adopted Child, along with the required filing fee and paperwork.

Competent Authority: Just as the U.S. court system has legal jurisdiction here in the States, a competent authority is a court or governmental authority of a foreign country that has jurisdiction and authority to make decisions in matters of child welfare, including adoption in its own country.

Complaint Registry: As a source of accountability, the U.S. Secretary of State created the Complaint Registry as a tool to receive, distribute, and monitor complaints relevant to the accreditation or approval status of adoption service providers.

Contract Social Workers or Supervised Providers: Social workers employed on a part-time basis by adoption agencies to provide specific services (e.g. home studies and post-placement services), but who are not members of the agency's staff.

Convention: Whenever the "Convention" is mentioned on this website, we are referring to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption signed at The Hague, Netherlands on May 29, 1993. The Hague Adoption Convention is the important treaty that governs adoptions among the United States and nearly 75 other countries.

Convention Adoption: A Convention adoption occurs whenever a child who is a resident of a Convention country is adopted by a U.S. citizen. Another instance of a Convention adoption occurs when a child that is a U.S. resident, is adopted by an individual or individuals residing in a Convention country, when, in connection with the adoption, the child has moved or will move between the United States and the Convention country.

Convention Country: A Convention Country is one of 75 nations that has ratified, entered into force, and are party to (members of) the Hague Adoption Convention along with the United States.

Country of Origin: The country of origin is considered to be the country in which a child is a legal resident and will be emigrating from in conjunction with an adoption case.

Court Hearing / Court Date: Foreign courts generally require prospective adoptive parents to submit evidence of the child's orphan status/availability for adoption or guardianship, the child's identity, the acceptability of the prospective adoptive parents, and the clearance to adopt from the government of the prospective adoptive parents. A court hearing is a hearing within your child's country in which your documents and case requesting adoption of a specific child are reviewed and approved. Countries have various requirements regarding requirements for one or both parents to attend the hearing, acceptability of Power of Attorney representation, and waiting periods in which the outcome of the hearing may be contested or before documents will be signed.

DHS - Department of Homeland Security: DHS is the acronym for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. agency responsible for facilitating immigration cases, including those related to intercountry adoption.

Direct and Interagency Adoptions: Direct placements involve a single agency. Interagency adoptions refer to cooperative efforts between several agencies. This latter form is particularly common in inter-country adoptions.

Disruption: A disruption is very much like it sounds. It occurs when there is an interruption of the intercountry adoption process during the post-placement period, but before the adoption is completely finalized.

Dissolution: Dissolution is the termination of the adoptive parents' parental rights, after the adoption has occurred.

Dossier: A collection of documents prepared for adoption authorities abroad. This information, which may vary from county to county, describes your background and represents you to adoption authorities abroad. These documents will require some kind of authentication (e.g. apostilles or certifications/notaries depending on specific country requirements) and will be translated.

Embassy/Consulate: The United States has an Embassy or Consulate in countries where it currently maintains diplomatic relations. An Embassy can fulfill all exit requirements/visas for an adopted child. A Consulate can handle most of the exit requirements and the adoptive family may need to travel to the country's US Embassy later to complete exit requirements. See Exit Visa/Process below and within your program travel guide.

Escort: Some countries do not require parents to travel to receive their child. These countries allow adoptive parents to exercise the option of using an escort to bring their child home. An escort is an individual who supervises the transit of children from sending to receiving countries.

Exempted Provider: A social work professional or organization that only performs a home study or a child background study in the United States in connection with a Convention adoption, and does not provide any of the other adoption services in the case is known as an exempted provider, and does not have to be accredited. However, the home study performed must subsequently be approved by an accredited adoption service provider.

Exit Visa/Process: The process/paperwork required for a child who has been adopted and now needs travel and immigration documents from the source country and the US Embassy before leaving the country (passport) and entering the US (immigrant visa). As a part of the immigrant visa application/exit process the child will be examined by a US-approved foreign physician to ensure that the child does not have a medical condition that the adoptive parents are uninformed about. Also see Visa, below

Facilitators and Foreign Providers: In contrast to domestic adoptions, where these terms are used synonymously, these terms take on different meanings in the field of inter-country adoptions. Facilitators are individuals or groups working in the United States who assist in arranging inter-country adoptions. Facilitators are not licensed by state authorities, but they often make their services available to licensed agencies. Foreign Providers are individuals or groups working in overseas nations who assist in arranging inter-country adoptions. They are frequently attorneys. In recent years the roles of facilitator and Foreign Providers are sometimes combined by individuals or groups working this country and in overseas nations.

Foreign Authorized Entity: Outside the U.S., a foreign authorized entity can be a foreign Central Authority or an accredited body or entity that has been authorized by that particular country to perform Central Authority functions in a Hague Adoption Convention case.

Great Seal: An authenticating seal placed on a document by the state Secretary of State where the document was issued. Certain countries only accept this type of authentication on documents which then requires further authentication at the State Department level and usually legalization from the sending country’s US located embassy.

Green Card (also called Permanent Resident Card or Form I-551): Your child will enter the US on one of two types of immigrant visas. An immigrant visa gives permission to enter the US and apply for permanent residence. The proof of permanent residence (the right to live and work in the US permanently) is called a Green Card. This should process for your child, without your intervention, upon entry into the US through airport immigration. The Green Card should arrive within 2 month's of your child's arrival in the US. USCIS form G-731 may be used if you need to check the status of your child's Green Card. You may need your child's the Green Card for various other legal purposes such as readopting, obtaining a social security card, obtaining certificate of US citizenship.

Hague Adoption Certificate: When a child emigrates from the United States (outgoing adoption case) to another Convention country, the U.S. Secretary of State issues a Hague Custody Declaration and a Hague Adoption Certificate. The Hague Adoption Certificate officially states that the child has been adopted in the United States, in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000. Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The Hague Adoption Convention is the landmark treaty on intercountry adoption that governs adoptions between the United States and nearly 75 other nations.

Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption: A multinational agreement developed at the beginning of this decade designed to promote the development of institutional structures for the supervision of adoption and to open lines of communication between sending and receiving countries. The United States has now ratified this convention and has implemented it on April 1, 2008. Only Hague Accredited adoption agencies can send or receive children with other Hague Signatory countries. If the sending country is not a Hague Signatory country, a non-Hague Accredited agency may still operate in that country.

Home Study: Families who wish to adopt a child must first be approved by a social worker approved to conduct adoption home studies in your state of residence. This may or may not be the agency facilitating your international adoption (your Adoption Service Provider). The social worker will gather documents from you, interview you, come into your home once or twice, and counsel you concerning adoption. A home study shows that you can provide the stability and home environment that a child needs. Documents you may be required to provide include information about yourself, references, health statements from your physician, child abuse clearances, criminal records clearance, and a statement of finances. The home study process may vary somewhat by state. Your social worker will assist you with the specific requirements for your state of residence.

I-171H or I-797C Letter: A form letter from the USCIS stating that they have processed and approved your Application to Advance Process Orphan Approval (I-600A or I-800A form) and that the National Visa Center has cabled the US Embassy abroad as indicated on your I-600A/I-800A. Approvals are primarily determined based on favorable FBI fingerprint clearances and home study content.

I-600A Form, "Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition": For most people, this is the initial USCIS application submitted to the National Benefits Center (NBC). The I-600A can speed up the adoption process in the US by allowing the USCIS to begin the part of the immigration approval regarding your ability to provide a proper home environment and your suitability as a parent. You do not need to have identified a child in order to submit the I600A. You do, however, need to have a completed Home Study and chosen which country you wish to adopt from at the time of submission in order for USCIS to know which country's embassy to cable the approval to once the I600A is complete. You will be required to submit photocopies of birth, marriage (current) and divorce decrees, plus the USCIS fee. The specific requirements are outlined on the form. Note that there is an additional fee that you will need to include with your filing fee to allow USCIS to fingerprint all adults residing in home over age of 17. Fingerprinting starts the FBI background checks required by the USCIS for all adults in your household.

I-600 Form: "Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative": This form is required for all international adoptions. It is utilized by the US Embassy/USCIS when you are in country/going through the exit process/interview after your completed court hearing. The form is very similar to the advanced processing form (I-600A) form most people initially submit; with the exception that it is blue in color and states you have now identified your child. This form is used by the USCIS to determine whether the child the prospective parent(s) wants to adopt, meets the USCIS definition of an "orphan." If an I-600A was not previously filed, the prospective parent(s) will also be required to submit the documentation that would normally have been submitted with the I-600A.

I-604: I-604 Orphan Investigation. The purpose is: (1) to verify the orphan status of the child and (2) to ensure that the child does have a medical condition that the adoptive parents don't know about. As a part of the immigrant visa application process and I-604 Orphan Investigation, your child will be examined by a US-approved foreign physician. Once a favorable determination is made the child may be granted an IR-3/HR-3 or IR-4/HR-4 visa to enter the US. 

I-800A Form: The purpose of this form is to adjudicate the eligibility and suitability of the applicant(s) to adopt a child who habitually resides in a Hague Adoption Convention country. A prospective adoptive applicant should file Form I-800A with the NBC office, but may not do so until a Hague Accredited agency, acting as your Primary Provider, has approved, signed off on and released your home study back to you.  This form is filed with the NBC.

I-800 Form:  The purpose of this form is to determine the child's eligibility for classification as a Convention adoptee. The petition is filed by the U.S. Citizen Prospective Adoptive Parent (PAP) to finalize the immigration process of a child who habitually resides in a Hague Convention Country. The petitioner must have an approved, valid Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country (Article 16), in order to file the Form I-800. This form is filed with the NBC.

I-864 Form: See "Affidavit of Support" above

IAA - Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000: IAA is the acronym for the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000, the Public Law that provides for the implementation of the Hague Adoption Convention.

Illegal Adoption: Abuses in the adoption process occur every day, and the Hague Adoption Convention was established to help prevent such abuses. An illegal adoption is an adoption resulting from abuses such as: abduction, the sale of, traffic in, and other illegal or illicit activities against children.

Immigration and Naturalization Service: See Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration above

Immigrant Visa: See Visa below

Independent Adoption: Adoption cases where the prospective adoptive parents are approved as eligible and suited to adopt by their Central Authority or accredited body and subsequently travel independently to a foreign country to find a child to adopt, is considered an independent adoption. Independent adoptions take place without the assistance of a Central Authority or accredited body in their State of origin.

Legal Custody: Having legal custody means that an individual has responsibility for a child under the order of a court of law, a public domestic authority, competent authority, public foreign authority, or by operation of law.

Legal Services: Legal services are interpreted as any assistance that relates to legal advice, information, and to the drafting of legal instruments, such as: drawing up contracts; powers of attorney; and providing advice and counsel to accredited agencies, temporarily accredited agencies, approved persons, and/or prospective adoptive parent(s) on how to comply with the Hague Adoption Convention and the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000.

Moratorium: When a foreign country temporarily closes its international adoption program for reasons such as in order to restructure their programs.

N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document: (See Certificate of US Citizenship)

N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship in Behalf of an Adopted Child: (See Certificate of US Citizenship)

National Benefits Center (NBC): A division of USCIS where all requests for I-600A, I-600, I-800A and I-800 are adjudicated.

Naturalization: When a child not born in the US becomes a US citizen. (See also Certificate of US citizenship, N-643).

Notary: Authentication of a signature on a legal document. When the signature on a document has been witnessed by a licensed notary of the state it is said to be notarized. The notary will attach a document/stamped notation and seal to the document which verifies that they are a licensed notary and witnessed the signature. For some countries, this is just the first step in authenticating documents that will still need further authentication by county, state, US, and/or foreign authorities.

Orphan: A child may be considered an orphan for any of several reasons, including the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents; if a surviving parent or unwed mother is unable to properly care for the child, among other reasons as specified by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The term "orphan" is also used in non-Hague adoption cases.

Passport: Passports are the identification documents/booklets, issued by the US State Department, which you will need to have with you in order to travel to a foreign country. Your passport must be current if you plan to travel to your child's country. Passport applications can be obtained and processed through specific post offices, federal buildings, and USCIS facilities. Your child will be issued a passport before exiting the foreign country, allowing him or her to begin the exit process at the US Embassy and subsequently leave the country/enter the United States. Your child's passport will be issued later by his/her native country.

Police Clearance: A criminal clearance issued by your local Police or Sheriff's Dept. This clearance may be required for your home study and/or included in your Dossier. This check/clearance will be in addition to the state clearances/background checks and the USCIS background check through the FBI.

Post-Adoption: Post-adoption is the period of time after an adoption in a Convention country and is followed by a re-adoption in the United States.

Post-Adoption Reporting: After a child has been adopted, some countries of origin have post-adoption reporting requirements. Adoption service providers must comply with the state laws of the jurisdiction where you live regarding the number of post-adoption home visits that are required as well. The adoption service provider includes a requirement for such reports in the adoption services contract.

Post-Placement: Post-placement is the period of time before an adoption, but after a grant of legal custody, or guardianship of the child to the prospective adoptive parents, or to a custodian for the purpose of escorting the child to the identified prospective adoptive parents.

Power of Attorney: Your written, notarized permission for someone other than yourself to represent you. A Power of Attorney is sometimes used to allow someone in your child's country to represent you at your child's adoption hearing/court date.

Prospective Adoptive Parent (PAP):  Simply put, the parent that is making application or petitioning to adopt.

Primary Service Provider (PSP): A primary provider is responsible to develop and implement all six adoption services required by the Hague for Convention country adoptions. Those six adoption services include:

  1. identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption

  2. securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption

  3. performing a background study on a child or a home study on prospective adoptive parents and reporting on such a study

  4. making non-judicial determinations of the best interest of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement of the child

  5. monitoring a case after a child has been placed with the prospective adoptive parents until finalization of the adoption

  6. when necessary because of a disruption before finalization of the adoption, assuming custody and providing facilitation of child care or any other special service pending an alternative placement.

*When choosing an adoption service provider for a Hague Convention country adoption, prospective adoptive parents should know that only an accredited primary service provider, like Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc., can provide you with these services for your adoption.

Private Adoption: A private adoption occurs when arrangements for adoption have been made directly between a biological parent in one Contracting State and prospective adopters in another Contracting State.

Public Domestic Authority: A Public Domestic Authority is an official entity operated by a State, local, or tribal government within the United States.

Public Foreign Authority: Much like a Public Domestic Authority, a Public Foreign Authority is an official entity operated by a national or sub-national government of a Convention country.

Re-adopt: When a family re-adopts or adopts a child again once back in the US. Although the foreign birth certificate of your child is legal and binding within the US , and although it is not generally required (unless both parents did not travel to see the child or unless a full and final adoption was not completed in country), re-adoption will result in a birth certificate (or delayed registration of birth) from the child's state of residence. Re-adoption will take place in the jurisdiction of the county court in which you live and may prevent problems getting copies of birth certificates later.

Receiving Country: The country into which a foreign born and adopted child will take citizenship and residence.

Referral: Your adoption agency will send you information about a specific child so you can decide if the child is right for your family. This is a referral. A referral usually consists of the name and birth date of the child, a photo, and some medical information. The quantity/quality of information varies from just a few vital statistics to a full battery of laboratory test results. Sometimes a video of the child is provided in addition to the photo and medical information. The prospective parents have a specific amount of time after a referral is made to decide whether to accept or decline the referral.

Relinquishment: The giving-up of custodial and legal rights to a child by a birthparent. This is a legally binding, permanent procedure involving the signing of legal documents and court action.

Revocation of Consent Agreements: Birth parents or legal guardians are permitted to revoke their consent to adoptive placements prior to the finalization of petitions to adopt. The period of revocation varies and could extend from a matter of hours to the finalization decree.

Secretary: Whenever we mention the Secretary, we are referring to the U.S. Secretary of State, the Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, or any other U.S. Department of State official exercising the Secretary of State's authority under the Hague Adoption Convention and/or the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000.

Sending Country: The country where your adopted child resided prior to joining your family.

Special Needs Adoptions: In inter-country adoptions, the phrase special need is limited almost entirely to physical disabilities, correctable and non-correctable. Termination of Parental Rights (TPR): This phrase denotes the final and irrevocable termination of parental rights and responsibilities. The judicial procedure can be either voluntary or involuntary.

Supervised Provider: A Supervised Provider is any agency, person, or other non-governmental entity, including any foreign entity, regardless of whether it is called a facilitator, agent, attorney, or by any other name, that is providing one or more adoption services in a Convention case under the supervision and responsibility of an accredited agency, temporarily accredited agency, or approved person that is acting as the primary provider in the case.

Tax Credit (Adoption): A tax credit for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child. The adoption credit is an amount subtracted from the adoptive parents’ tax liability. IRS Information page

Temporarily Accredited Agency: A Temporarily Accredited Agency is an agency that has been accredited on a temporary basis by an accrediting entity to provide adoption services in the United States in cases subject to the Convention.

Termination of Parental Rights (TPR): This phrase denotes the final and irrevocable termination of parental rights and responsibilities. The judicial procedure can be either voluntary or involuntary.

USCIS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services: On March 1, 2003, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its functions were divided into various bureaus of that department. The people you will deal with throughout your international adoption are in the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Because you will technically be bringing a citizen from another country into the US when you adopt, that child is considered an immigrant and therefore subject to all immigration requirements of the USCIS. You will work through your regional USCIS office/sub office at various points in your adoption process for fingerprinting. You will deal with the US State Dept. (US Embassy) who acts as USCIS representatives abroad and handles various requirements while you're in-country. You will deal with USCIS again when you return home and if you want to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship.

U.S. Authorized Entity: An U.S. Authorized Entity is an agency or person that is accredited or temporarily accredited or approved by an accrediting entity, or a supervised provider acting under the supervision and responsibility of an accredited agency or temporarily accredited agency or approved person.

Visa: A document issued by the country (for a fee) allowing a person to enter it's borders for a specific time and reason. In order to enter the US, your child will require an immigrant visa. This may be a piece of paper or a stamp in the child's passport by the Embassy. Prior to issuing an immigrant visa for your child, a Department of State Consular Officer must conduct an investigation, called "I-604 Orphan Investigation. The purpose is: (1) to verify the orphan status of the child and (2) to ensure that the child does have a medical condition that the adoptive parents don't know about. As a part of the immigrant visa application process and I-604 Orphan Investigation, your child will be examined by a US-approved foreign physician.

Your child will enter the US on one of two kinds of IR ("Immediate Relative") Immigrant Visas:

* IR-3: the child was adopted overseas and (1) the adoptive parent (if single parent) or both parents (if married couple) saw/observed the child prior to the adoption and (2) the foreign adoption grants both adoptive parents and child the same rights, responsibilities, & privileges as would an adoption in the US. Children issued IR/HR-3 immigrant visas do not require re-adoption in the US under federal laws.

* IR-4: the child is coming to the United States for adoption. An IR/HR-4 is issued to a child when (1) the foreign country's laws only permit the adoptive parents to obtain guardianship of the child rather than to fully adopt the child in that country and/or (2) the prospective adoptive parent(s) did not see/observe the child prior to the foreign adoption. Children issued IR/HR-4 immigrant visas must be adopted or readopted after they enter the US. (Also see Re-Adopt, above).


*IH-3 and IH-4 visas: The visas are similar to the respective function of the IR-3 and IR-4 visa noted above.  However, the “IH” is a classification of immediate relative under section 201(b) to a child who has been adopted in a foreign state, or a child who is emigrating from a foreign state to be adopted in t he United States, when the foreign state is a party to the Convention.

*Some glossary terms have been sourced from the US Department of State website on Intercountry Adoption.

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