ItalyLast Updated: April 2013
Hague Adoption Convention Country?YES
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- Hague Convention Information
Italy is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Hague countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations, as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Italy.
Italy is not generally considered a country of origin in intercountry adoption. The information provided is intended primarily to assist in rare adoption cases from Italy, including adoptions of Italian children by relatives in the United States, as well as adoptions from third countries by U.S. citizens living in Italy.
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Italy, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.
Additionally, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. law in order to immigrate to the United States on an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.
- Who Can Adopt
In addition to the U.S. requirements, Italy requires prospective adoptive parents to meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Italy:
- Residency: Prospective adoptive parents must legally reside in Italy.
- Age of Adopting Parents: Adoptive parents must be at least eighteen years old and no more than forty-five years over the age of the adoptee.
- Marriage: Only married couples may adopt. The couple must have been married for at least three years (without separation during the three-year period prior to the adoption) and must reside in Italy. Single persons can only adopt in very limited circumstances. Same-sex couples cannot adopt in Italy.
- Who Can Be Adopted
Because Italy is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Italy must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Italy have determined that placement of the child within Italy has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to Italy’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee to be eligible for an immigrant visa that will allow you to bring him or her to the United States.
- Relinquishment: The judge can terminate the parental custody when the parent violates or neglects his/her parental duties or abuses his/her powers, with serious prejudice to the child. For serious reasons, the judge can order the removal of either the child or the parent, who mistreats or abuses the minor, from the family’s residence.
- Abandonment: In order to be declared “adoptable,” the child must be in a state of abandonment, meaning that the child is unable to live with his or her own family.
The minor who is deprived of moral and material assistance by the parents or relatives, who are considered responsible for his or her support, is considered abandoned.
- Age of Adoptive Child: Children age 14 and older can only be adopted if they personally consent to the adoption.
- Sibling Adoptions: Prospective adoptive parents are allowed to apply for adoption of more than one child, including siblings.
Under Italian law and procedures, it is considered preferential criteria for the adoption if prospective adoptive parents have already adopted a sibling or if they apply for the adoption of siblings at the same time.
- Special Needs or Medical Conditions: There are no specific legal requirements. The ability of the prospective parents to provide for a particular child’s needs is assessed during the adoption process.
- Waiting Period: Up to three years
- Foster Care: There is a fostering period of one year which can be extended to two years. During that period, the local Juvenile Court monitors and provides support to the prospective adoptive parents. At the end of the fostering period, the Juvenile Court either confirms or denies the adoption. Prospective adoptive parent(s) generally should plan to remain in Italy for the fostering period.
In certain circumstances a child may be placed by the Italian authorities with relatives who live abroad under a fostering arrangement prior to possible adoption. In these cases, if the child’s legal custodians wish to travel to the United States with the child then they may apply at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, or one of the U.S. Consulates General in Italy, for a B-2 non-immigrant visa for the child to travel to the United States during the pre-adoptive care period.
Note: U.S. immigration law applies to the issuance of non-immigrant visas. There is no guarantee that the child will qualify for a non-immigrant visa, nor is it advisable for the child to travel under the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) during the pre-adoptive care period. In order to be eligible for a non-immigrant B-2 visa or travel under the Visa Waiver Program, the child must have a residence abroad that he or she has no intention of abandoning and cannot be an intending immigrant who is coming to live permanently in the United States.
- How To Adopt
WARNING: Italy isparty to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Italy before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.
Italy’s Adoption Authority
Commissione per le Adozioni Internazionali (Commission for Intercountry Adoption)
Note: City Juvenile Courts oversee the handling of adoption cases. For a complete listing of these courts, prospective adoptive parents should visit the following website: http://www.commissioneadozioni.it/Contents/tribunaliminorenni.aspx
Because Italy is party to The Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Italy 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. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.
Note: The following information refers to the process of adopting from Italy as country of origin. It would be used only in rare intercountry adoption cases from Italy to the United States.
For residents of Italy who wish to adopt a child and remain in Italy, the process is different. Persons wishing to adopt a child while living in Italy should contact the adoption authority for more specific information about that process.
- Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
- Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
- Be matched with a child by authorities in Italy
- Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
- Adopt (or Gain Legal Custody of child in Italy).
- Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
The recommended first step in adopting a child from Italy is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may provide adoption services between the United States and Italy. The U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider will act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with The Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt
After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Eligibility Requirements.
Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Italy as part of your adoption dossier. Italy’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Italian law.
3. Be Matched with a Child in Italy
If both the United States and Italy determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the central authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the central authority for Convention adoptions in Italy may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Italy. The adoption authority in Italy will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the adoption authority in Italy. Learn more about this critical decision.
4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.
After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Naples, Italy, that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Italy. A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.
WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the Italian Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Italy where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Italian Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.
Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Italy before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.
Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
5. Adopt or Gain Legal Custody of Child in Italy
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Italy, 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 Italy.
The process for finalizing the adoption or gaining legal custody in Italy generally includes the following:
- Role of Adoption Authority:
a) to collect, preserve and exchange information about the situation of the child and the prospective adoptive parents, so far as is necessary to complete the adoption;
b) to facilitate, follow and expedite proceedings with a view to obtaining the adoption;
c) promote the development of adoption counseling and post-adoption services in their States;
d) to provide each other with general evaluation reports about experience with intercountry adoption;
e) to reply, in so far as is permitted by the law of their State, to justified requests from other Central Authorities or public authorities for information about a particular adoption situation.
- Role of the Court: City Juvenile Courts oversee the handling of adoption cases. For a complete listing of these courts, prospective adoptive parents should visit the following website: http://www.commissioneadozioni.it/Contents/tribunaliminorenni.aspx
Prospective adoptive parents start the adoption procedure by submitting a request called “Dicharazione alla Disponabilità per l’Adozione” (Declaration of Willingness to Adopt) to the Juvenile Court in the city of their choice. Prospective adoption parents can submit more than one request to Juvenile Courts in various cities as long as all of the Juvenile Courts are aware of all of the requests made.
Based on the information provided by the prospective adoptive parents, the Juvenile Court selects the child that better matches the prospective adoptive parents. There are no further details on how the child is selected by the Juvenile Court.
As noted above, there is a fostering period of one year which can be extended to two years. During that period, the local Juvenile Court monitors and provides support to the prospective adoptive parents. At the end of the fostering period, the Juvenile Court either confirms or revokes the adoption.
The Court will request the intervention of the local social services agency to assist and evaluate the couple, prepare a home study, and report the findings to the Court. The Juvenile Court can also appoint a judge and/or a team of specialists, who will hold meetings with the prospective adoptive parents in order to evaluate them and/or to provide additional information.
- Role of Adoption Agencies: The appointed local social services agency will then conduct a study on the prospective adoptive parents in order to evaluate their capacity to bring up the minor, their personal economic situation, their personal health conditions, the family environment, and the motivation of their request.
- Adoption Application: See discussion of request called “Dicharazione alla Disponabilità per l’Adozione” (Declaration of Willingness to Adopt) in “ROLE OF THE COURT” above.
- Time Frame: An adoption in Italy can take up to three years from the time the application is filed with the juvenile court until the child is in the new family’s home and the adoption is finalized.
- Adoption Fees: In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
In Italy, national adoption services are free of charge.
- Documents Required:
The Declaration of Willingness to Adopt should be accompanied by the following documents:
- Birth Certificates of the prospective adoptive parents;
- Registry Office certificate (“Stato di Famiglia”);
- Declaration of consent to adopt by the prospective adoptive parents’ parents, given in the form of an affidavit or, should they be deceased, death certificate(s) of adoptive parents’ parents;
- Medical certificate issued by family doctor;
- Evidence of economic means (i.e. tax returns; pay stubs);
- Criminal record of adoptive parents;
- Notarial act, or equivalent declaration, attesting that there is neither legal nor de facto separation between the adoptive couple.
No documentation about the child/ren is required.
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
- Authentication of Documents: The United States and Italy are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents may be authenticated with Apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority.
6. Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:
If you have finalized the adoption in Italy, you will firstneed to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.
After the pre-adoptive custody period, the Juvenile Court can either confirm or revoke the adoption. If the adoption is confirmed, the Juvenile Court issues the final adoption decree and notifies the vital records office of the local City Hall. At that point, the child’s birth certificate is changed and will reflect the new family name. Adoptive parents can apply for the child’s birth certificate at the local City Hall.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Italy.
Once the birth certificate reports the new family name, the adoptive parents can apply for a passport on behalf of the adopted child. Adoptive parents can submit their child’s application at the local police station. An Italian passport valid for the U.S. will be issued to the minor. Information and forms are available at poliziadistato.it/articolo/1087-Passaporto.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Consulate General in Naples, Italy. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Consulate General for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, final approval of Form I-800, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. 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 if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.
*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
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. 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 a Visa to Travel to Italy
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 country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Italy, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. 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 enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Italy, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
- After Adoption
Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Italy has no requirements for the adoptive parents after the adoption is finalized.
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some 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. Consulate General Naples
Piazza della Repubblica - 80122 NAPOLI
Tel: (switchboard): (+39) 081.583.8111
The United States also has Consulates General in: Florence and Milan
Italy’s Adoption Authority
Commissione per le Adozioni Internazionali
(Commission for Intercountry Adoption)
Largo Chigi, 19
Tel: +39 (06) 6779 2060 / 66 / 68
Fax: +39 (06) 6779 2165
Note: City Juvenile Courts oversee the handling of adoption cases. For a complete listing of these courts, prospective adoptive parents should visit the following website: commissioneadozioni.it/en/the-institutional-actors/the-juvenile-courts.aspx
Embassy of Italy
Address: 3000 Whitehaven Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 612-4400
Fax: (202) 518-2151
Italy also has consulates in: Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
For questions about filing a Form I-800A or I-800 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)