How to Adopt

Last Updated: June 2013

Intercountry adoptions are governed by three sets of laws:  U.S. federal law, the laws of the child's country of residence, and the laws of your U.S. state of residence.

The time it takes to adopt a child from another country and bring that child to the United States varies widely.  Generally, it takes one to four years, though it can take longer.  The length of time depends on a number of factors, including the country of origin's procedures, the adoption service provider's process, the U.S. immigration process, and the specific circumstances of the adoption.  See our Country Information on the adoption process in over 175 countries.

Adoption service providers are to disclose all expected costs associated with your adoption before you sign an adoption services contract.  This is required of providers for adoptions under the Hague Convention.  This requirement will extend to all intercountry adoption service providers in July, 2014.  See Working with an Adoption Service Provider for more information.

Hague Adoption Convention
The United States is part of an important treaty on intercountry adoption called the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention).  The treaty governs adoptions between the United States and approximately 90 other countries.  The process of adopting a child from a Convention country differs in several key ways from adopting a child from a country not party to the Convention.  See Who Can be Adopted for more information about the Convention and Orphan adoption process.

Support During the Process
Adopting a child from abroad takes patience and determination.  Not only is the intercountry adoption process complex, but unexpected complications may arise.  Because the process can take so long, finding emotional support during this time can be helpful.  You may also find it beneficial to consult with other parents or support groups about issues and concerns associated with adoption.

Here are some good places to start your support group search:

NOTE: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.