ItalyLast Updated: September 2009
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 ). Therefore all adoptions between Italy and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.
Adoptions from Italy are rare. Only two Italian orphans have received U.S. immigrant visas in the past five fiscal years. The information provided is intended primarily to assist in these rare cases, including adoptions of Italian children by relatives in the United States, as well as adoptions from third countries by Americans living in Italy.
- Who Can Adopt
Adoption between the United States and Italy is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Italy, 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). Learn more.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Italy also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
- RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adoptive parents must legally reside in Italy.
- AGE REQUIREMENTS: Adoptive parents must be at least eighteen years old and no more than forty-five years over the age of the adoptee.
- MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: 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.
- OTHER REQUIREMENTS: Same-sex couples cannot adopt in Italy.
- RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adoptive parents must legally reside 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 Convention requires that Italy attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Italy's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.
Relinquishment Requirements: The judge can terminate the parental custody when the parent violates or neglects his/her parental duties or abuses of his/her powers, with serious prejudice to the child. Therefore, due to 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 Requirements: In order to be declared "adoptable," the child must be in a state of abandonment, meaning that the child cannot live in 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/her support, is considered abandoned.
- AGE REQUIREMENTS: Children age 14 and older can only be adopted if they personally consent to the adoption.
Sibling Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are allowed to apply for more adoptions.
If prospective adoptive parents have already adopted a sibling or if they apply for the adoption of siblings at the same time, this is considered preferential criteria for the adoption.
- Waiting Period: Up to three years
- How To Adopt
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
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.
NOTE: If you filed your I-600a with Italy before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more .
- 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 Italy
- Bringing your Child Home
- Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:
The first step in adopting a child from Italy 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 Italy. Learn more.
- 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). Learn how.
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 Italy. Italy's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Italy's law.
- Be Matched with a Child:
If both the United States and Italy determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Italy 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. Learn how.
After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application for to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities. If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify the Italy's adoption authority (Article 5 letter). For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place.
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-country:
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 THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY:
The role of the adoption authority is established by Chapter Three of the Hague Convention. The Adoption authority in Italy has the following roles:
- 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;
- facilitate, follow and expedite proceedings with a view to obtaining the adoption;
- promote the development of adoption counseling and post-adoption services in their States;
- provide each other with general evaluation reports about experience with intercountry adoption;
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 APPLICATION: (see discussion of request called "Dicharazione alla Disponabilità per l'Adozione" (Declaration of Willingness to Adopt) in "ROLE OF THE COURT" above).
- 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. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how .
- Bringing Your Child Home:
Now that 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.
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 http://www.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 apply for an 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 if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY:
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 lawful permanent residents.
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.
Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.
- Traveling Abroad
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Italy. 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 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 attached 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'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 Italy, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
- After Adoption
What does Italy require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
Italy has no requirements for the adoptive parents after the adoption requirements
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:
NOTE: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
- Contact Information
U.S. Embassy in Italy
Address: Via Vittorio Veneto 121 - 00187 ROMA
Tel: (switchboard): (+39) 06.46741
Fax: (+39) 06.4674.2244
The United States also has Consulates General in Florence, Milan and Naples.
See http://italy.usembassy.gov/acs/addresses.asp for contact information.
Italy's Adoption Authority
Commissione per le Adozioni Internazionali
(Commission for Intercountry Adoption)
Largo Chigi, 19
Telephone numbers: +39 (06) 6779 2060 / 66 / 68
Fax number: +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
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, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)