FranceLast Updated: January 2012
Hague Adoption Convention Country?YES
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- Hague Convention Information
France is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption ( Hague Adoption Convention ). Therefore all adoptions between France and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.
France is not considered a country of origin in intercountry adoption. There are few children eligible for adoption in France, with a long waiting list of French prospective adoptive parents. Most intercountry adoptions in France are by legal residents of France who adopt in third countries.
While legally possible, intercountry adoption of a French orphan by foreigners is unlikely. No French orphans have received U.S. immigrant visas in the past five fiscal years. The information provided is intended primarily to assist in rare adoption cases from France, including adoptions of French children by relatives in the United States, as well as adoptions from third countries by Americans living in France.
- Who Can Adopt
Adoption between the United States and France is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from France, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read more on Who Can Adopt.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, France also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
- RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: A foreigner who resides outside of France, and wishes to complete an intercountry adoption of a child residing in France, does not need to establish residency in France. A foreigner who wishes to adopt a child, whether in France or elsewhere, for the purpose of residing in France with the child, must be a permanent resident of France.
- AGE AND MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: For domestic and intercountry adoptions, a couple must be married for a minimum of two years or, if married less than two years, both spouses must be at least 28 years old. A single person can adopt provided he/she is at least 28 years old; however, in practice, it is very difficult to get approval. There is no age limit if one of the spouses wishes to adopt the other spouse's child. There is no age maximum. Adopting parents must be at least 15 years older than the child they want to adopt (10 years in the case of the other spouse's child).
- INCOME REQUIREMENTS:Prospective parents must prove that they can provide for the child but there is no minimum income requirement.
- OTHER REQUIREMENTS: None.
- Who Can Be Adopted
Because France is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from France must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that France attempt to place a child with a family in France before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to France's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.
- How To Adopt
WARNING: France is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in France before a U.S. consular officer issues an "Article 5 Letter." Read on for more information.
France's Central Authority
Since January 2009, the Central Authority for adoptions in France is the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.
Because France is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from France must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.
NOTE: The information provided is intended primarily to assist in rare adoption cases from France, including adoptions of French children by relatives in the United States, as well as adoptions from third countries by Americans living in France.
- Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be Matched with a Child
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
- Adopt the Child in France
- Bring your Child Home
- Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:
The first step in adopting a child from France is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and France. We provide a list of Accredited Adoption Service Providers on our website.
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:
After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Eligibility Requirements.
Once the U.S. government determines that you are "eligible" and "suitable" to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in France. France's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under France's law.
- Be Matched with a Child:
If both the United States and France determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in France may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States.
After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities.
If the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he or she will send a letter (an "Article 5 Letter") to the French Central Authority. Do not adopt or obtain custody of a child in France before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter.
Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
- Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in France:
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in France, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in France.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in France generally includes the following:
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: American citizens interested in or considering adopting a child in France should consult the website of the Agence Française de l'Adoption, provided in the section under "Contact Information."
- ROLE OF THE COURT: Prospective parents must file for adoption at the Tribunal de Grande Instance having jurisdiction over their place of residence. Although it is not mandatory, it is advisable to retain a lawyer. The court has six months to determine if the conditions for adoption have been respected and if the adoption is in the best interest of the child. Once adoption is granted, the prosecutor asks the city hall of the adoptee's place of birth to record the adoption. There is no indication of the biological parents.
- ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: In cases of domestic adoption, prospective parents deal directly with social services. Other adoption agencies specialize in international adoption.
- TIME FRAME: Intercountry adoption in France is a lengthy process, sometimes taking several years. The domestic adoption process takes about a year on average.
- ADOPTION APPLICATION: Necessary documents are generally prepared by an attorney.
- ADOPTION FEES: There are no "adoption fees" in France but adopting parents often hire an attorney to assist them with the administrative and legal proceedings.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: American citizens interested in or considering adopting a child in France or bringing a child to be adopted elsewhere to reside with them in France should consult the French government internet site provide above under Adoption Authority in France for information concerning documentary requirements.
IMPORTANT VISA REQUIREMENTS IN ADOPTIONS FROM THIRD COUNTRIES: Americans who are legally resident in France but are considering adopting a child from a different country should first consult the country-specific information on adoption for that country. It is critical to remember, however, that in addition to meeting U.S. legal requirements, such children adopted from a third country must also have a French visa to enter and reside in France. Adopted children of a number of Americans have been denied entry into France because they did not have the appropriate French visas. Once in France, they will need to obtain a U.S. visa, if they choose to bring their child to the United States at a later time.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Read more on Traveling Abroad to learn about Authenticating U.S. Documents.
- Bring Your Child Home
Once your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
The city hall of the adoptee's place of birth will issue a birth certificate with the names of the adoptive parents.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from France. You can request a passport for your child at the city hall in Paris (Mairies d'Arrondissement) or at the prefectures and sous-préfectures outside Paris.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for a U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child. Read more about the Medical Examination.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as a lawful permanent resident.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
- Traveling Abroad
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave France. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print-all in one place.
Obtaining Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign France that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for France, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in France, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
- After Adoption
What does France require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
France has no requirements of the adoptive parents after the adoption.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some good places to start your support group search:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway
- North American Council on Adoptable Children
- Adoption Services Support Groups for Adopting Persons
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents. .
- Contact Information
U.S. Embassy in France
2, avenue Gabriel
75382 Paris Cedex 08
Switchboard: +33 1 43 12 22 22
Fax: +33 1 42 66 97 83
The French Central Authority
Service de l'Adoption Internationale (SAI), Autorité Centrale (International Adoption Service, Central Authority)
Ministère des Affaires Etrangères et Européennes (Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs)
244 boulevard Saint-Germain
75303 PARIS 07 SP
Telephone number: +33 (1) 4317 9118
Fax number: +33 (1) 4317 9344
websites: diplomatie.gouv.fr / www.adoption.gouv.fr
Embassy of France
4101 Reservoir Road, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Telephone: (202) 944-6000
Fax: (202) 944-6166
France has Consulates General in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York and San Francisco.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about intercountry adoption and related immigration procedures, call the USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC)