Adopting a Relative
If you wish to adopt a child relative of yours, it is important to understand that all U.S. adoption procedures still apply. Some U.S. laws may prevent your relative from being able to enter and live in the United States. We recommend that you contact an adoption service provider in the U.S. or a qualified adoption attorney before attempting to proceed with adopting a relative who is not a U.S. citizen.
The Hague Adoption Convention allows for relatives adoptions. The adoption must proceed under U.S. law in the same way that other adoptions from Convention countries proceed. Prospective adoptive parents must still file Form I-800A with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), followed at the appropriate time with Form I-800. See our web page on the Hague adoption process for more information.
NOTE: Under most circumstances, prospective adoptive parents are not permitted to identify a child in a Convention country for adoption - the foreign country refers prospective adoptive parents to a child (sometimes also called "matching"). Contact between prospective adoptive parents and a child's parents or legal guardian is generally not permitted in Convention adoptions. However, the Convention provides an exception to these rules for adoption within families.
Non-Convention country Adoptions
Children being adopted from non-Convention countries must meet the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) definition of a "child" or an "orphan" before being considered for United States permanent residence and eventual citizenship. If an adopted child does not meet one of these legal definitions, the child cannot immigrate to the United States - even if the child is related to you. The United States also requires that the petition for an adopted orphan be filed before the orphan turns 16 (or 18 for older siblings).
To adopt a relative from a country non-Convention country, prospective adoptive parents generally must still file Forms I-600A and I-600. Refer to our web page about the non-Hague adoption process for more information.
Note: In some cases, if the adoption took place before the child turned 16 and the child has resided with the United States citizen in legal and physical custody for at least two years, then the U.S. citizen may file an immigrant visa petition (Form I-130) for the child.
- Is it possible for me to adopt a family member?
Yes, depending on your and the child's situation. Prospective adoptive parents wishing to adopt relatives from overseas should be aware of U.S. Government laws and regulations that may prevent such relatives from being able to enter the United States.
- What are those laws/regulations?
The U.S. requires that all children involved in intercountry adoption from non-Convention countries meet the definition of a child or an orphan as defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) before they can be considered for United States permanent residence/citizenship. If an adopted child does not meet one of these legal definitions, the child cannot immigrate to the United States. Similarly, all children being involved in intercountry adoption from Convention countries must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee to be adopted and immigrate to the United States.
- The child I would like to adopt does not fit into these categories. Is there another way I can petition for this child to immigrate into the United States? If the adoption took place before the child turned 16, and if the child has resided with the United States citizen in legal custody for at least two years, then the U.S. citizen may file an immigrant visa petition for the child.