Thailand

Last Updated: February 2014

Hague Adoption Convention Country?

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Hague Convention Information

Thailand 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 Thailand.

A domestic adoption of a Thai child cannot be processed under Thailand’s laws and procedures implementing the Hague Adoption Convention.  A domestic adoption will not render a child eligible under U.S. law as a beneficiary of a Form I-800 petition or an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.  In certain circumstances, such an adopted child may be eligible for U.S. immigration benefits through approval of a Form I-130 petition, after two years of physical and legal custody.  For more information on this process, please visit the website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Note:  Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008.  Read about Transition Cases.


U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Thailand, 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 BE ADOPTED

Because Thailand is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Thailand 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 Thailand have determined that placement of the child within Thailand has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests.  In addition to Thailand’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.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

  • Relinquishment:  One or both biological parents must relinquish parental rights of the child in writing. 
  • Abandonment:  The DSDW must attempt to locate the biological parent(s) and must report on their attempts and the result.
  • Age of Adoptive Child:  Children must be at least 15 years younger than the PAPs.  The DSDW advises that it is rare that a child under the age of one is available for intercountry adoption.
  • Sibling Adoptions:  There are no specific requirements or exceptions when adopting siblings.  It is possible to adopt siblings together or separately.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions:  None specified.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care:  If PAPs seek to adopt from one of the four non-governmental organizations that Thailand has licensed to work with the Thai central adoption authority, the Child Adoption Center within the DSDW, the PAPs may be required to complete a six (6) month pre-adoptive placement.  This pre-adoptive placement may be completed in Thailand or in the country of residence.  The DSDW may waive this requirement when adopting a relative child. 
  • Other:  It is not possible to apply to adopt more than one Thai child at a time, unless the children are siblings or step-siblings.
Who Can Adopt

In addition to the U.S. requirements, Thailand obliges prospective adoptive parents to meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Thailand:

  • Residency:  Prospective adoption parents (PAPs) must generally work with the central or competent authorities of their country of residence if they have been living in that country for at least six months prior to submitting their dossier to DSDW and will remain in that country until they finalize the adoption.
  • Age of Adopting Parents:  PAPs must be at least 25 years old and 15 years older than the child to be adopted.  These requirements also apply when adopting relative children.
  • Marriage:  A PAP may be single or married.  Married PAPs must have been married for at least two years.  The marriage must be legally recognized.  Thai law does not recognize same-sex marriage.
  •  Income:  While there are no formal income requirements, PAPs must provide proof of income (e.g. tax returns, letters from employers stating income, bank statements, etc.) with their request (dossier) to the DSDW to adopt.

Other:  PAPs must be legally qualified under U.S. law to adopt a child.

 
How To Adopt

WARNING:  Thailand is party to the Hague Adoption Convention.  Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Thailand before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case.  Read on for more information.

Thailand’s Adoption Authority
Child Adoption Center (CAC), Department of Social Development and Welfare (DSDW)

In addition, four non-governmental organizations are licensed to work with the CAC in cases where a child is to be placed abroad.  Contact information for each organization is available in the “Contact Information” section.

  • Friends for All Children
  • Holt Sahathai Foundation
  • Thai Red Cross Foundation
  • The Pattaya Orphanage

Note:  If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying Thailand as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or, 3) the adoption was completed.  Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions.  For more information, read about Transition Cases

The Process

Because Thailand is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Thailand 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 not confer immigration benefits on the adopted child (i.e. it is possible the child would not qualify for an immigrant visa if adopted out of order).

  1. Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
  2. Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child by authorities in Thailand
  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
  5. Adopt or gain legal custody of child in Thailand
  6. 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 first step in adopting a child from Thailand 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 Thailand.  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 Thailand as part of your adoption dossier.  Thailand’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Thai law. 

3.  Be Matched with a Child in Thailand

If both the United States and Thailand determine that you are eligible to adopt and the DSDW has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the DSDW in Thailand 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 Thailand.  The DSDW 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 DSDW in Thailand.  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. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Thailand.  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 Thai Central Authority (DSDW) in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Thailand 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 Thai 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 Thailand 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 Thailand

Remember:  Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Thailand, 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 Thailand. 

The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Thailand generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority:  The DSDW matches the child with the PAPs.  Once DSDW is notified of their acceptance of the match, it forwards the application to the Child Adoption Board (CAB), part of the CAC.  After receiving official authorization from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, which oversees the DSDW, the DSDW schedules an interview between the PAPs and CAB.  (Note: If married, both PAPs must attend this interview.)  DSDW also issues the documents necessary for the child’s travel. 
  • Role of the Court:  There is no Thai court component.  Instead, PAPs may either sign a Memorandum of Agreement agreeing to fulfill the CAB’s and DSDW’s requirements to work with the accredited ASP to complete the six-month pre-adoption period, provide three required reports, and seek CAB’s approval prior to adopting the child in the country of residence or they may complete the six-month pre-adoption and reporting period in Thailand and, upon successful completion of that period, register the child with the appropriate local Thai District Office.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies:  The ASP assembles the application forms and supporting documents for submission to DSDW.
  • Time Frame:  Recent reports indicate that waiting periods range from approximately 24 to 30 months from the time the U.S. ASP submits the PAPs’ paperwork to the DSDW to the time the child is placed with the PAPs for the six month pre-adoption placement period.
  • Adoption Application:  PAPs and their ASPs must submit an adoption application to the DSDW.
  • 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.
  • Documents Required:  The following is a list of documents that the ASP must submit to DSDW on behalf of the PAPs, along with the adoption application:
    • Home Study – The home study must be conducted or endorsed by one of the DSDW approved agencies.  Any home study done by a non-DSDW approved agency must obtain an endorsement from a DSDW approved agency.  The non-DSDW approved agency must agree to supervise the six-month pre-adoption (or post-placement) period.  (To satisfy U.S. law, the home study must also be performed or supervised by a U.S. Hague accredited ASP.)
    • Confirmation Statement – The format of this document varies somewhat, but generally includes the ASP’s confirmation to supervise post-placement requirements.
    • Formal Commitment Statement – If the PAPs reside in Thailand, a DSDW social worker will supervise the pre-adoptive (or post-placement) period and conduct the three bi-monthly home visits.  Once DSDW is satisfied with the pre-adoptive placement, DSDW will report its findings to the CAB, who will approve the child for adoption registration.  PAPs must sign a Formal Commitment Statement acknowledging that they understand this process

      If the PAPs do not reside in Thailand, the ASP must formally commit to supervising a pre-adoptive placement in the country of residence for at least six months, conducting at least three bi-monthly progress reports, and providing those reports to the DSDW.

      In cases in which the adoption will be finalized outside of Thailand, the DSDW will issue a Memoranda of Agreement, which the PAPs sign. When adoptions are finalized in Thailand, DSDW issues a shorter version of this memorandum, not signed by the parents.

      • Medical Certificate – The certificate verifies the PAPs’ good physical health, mental stability, and infertility (if applicable).
      • Birth Certificates
      • Marriage Certificate (if applicable)
      • Proof of Termination of Previous Marriages – Death Certificate of spouse or Divorce Decree.
      • Proof of Occupation and Income – For example, tax returns, letters from employers, and/or bank statements
      • Complete Financial Statement – The statement should indicate all assets and liabilities and may include tax returns, bank statements, and/or an explanatory letter from the PAPs.
      • Recommendations from Two Responsible Persons
      • Proof of ASP’s U.S. Hague Accreditation
      • Photographs of PAPs – Four (4.5 cm x 6 cm) photographs from each prospective adoptive parent and their children. 

Note:  Additional documents may be requested.

  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications office may be able to assist.  Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents

6.  Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Now that you have adopted or 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:

Birth Certificate
If a Thai child does not already have a birth certificate when s/he is taken to live at an orphanage, officials at the orphanage will arrange for the issuance of a birth certificate with the local District Registration Office, either in the jurisdiction where the child was born, if known, or in the jurisdiction where the orphanage is located.

Thai Passport
An adopted child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so s/he will need a travel document (passport) in order to travel from Thailand.  The orphanage will arrange for the issuance of this travel document with the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and present it to the adoptive family before the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok.

The passport costs 35 USD and processing takes two business days if picking up in person or five business days for delivery.  Obtaining the passport is part of the overall services provided by the ASP.

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. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.  After and adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy in Bangkok 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.

[POST-ADOPTION/POST-PLACEMENT REPORTING REQUIREMENTS]

Adoptive parents are required to register their adoption with the nearest Thai Embassy or Consulate in their home country.

If prospective adoptive parents did not complete the six-month pre-adoption (post-placement) period in Thailand, then the U.S. Hague accredited ASP must submit to DSDW three bi-monthly reports detailing the child’s progress in adjusting to his or her new family and environment and his or her general welfare before the PAPs can finalize the adoption in U.S. state court. 

We strongly urge you to comply with Thai post-adoption requirements in a timely manner.  Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process.  Your cooperation will contribute to that country’s history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen parents.

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
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 Thailand
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 Thailand, 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 Thailand, 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).

POST-ADOPTION RESOURCES

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:

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

 
Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Thailand
Consular Section
95 Wireless Road
Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel:  (66-2) 205-4000
Fax:  (66-2) 253-6250
Email:  visasbkk@state.gov
Internet:  bangkok.usembassy.gov 

U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai, Thailand
387 Wichayanond Road
Chiang Mai 50300, Thailand
Tel:  001-800-13-202-2457 (outside the U.S.), 1-800-202-2457 (inside the U.S.)
Fax:  (66-53) 252-633
Email:  conschiangmai@state.gov
Internet:  chiangmai.usconsulate.gov

Note:  The U.S. Consulate General Chiang Mai does not handle adoptions.  All adoption cases are handled by the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok.

Thai Adoption Authority
Child Adoption Center (CAC)
Department of Social Development and Welfare (DSDW)
255 Rajvithi Road
Bangkok 10400, Thailand
Tel:  (66-2) 354-7500 ext. 412-419
Email:  adoption@loxinfo.co.th

In addition, four non-governmental organizations are licensed to work with DSDW's Child Adoption Center in cases where a child is to be placed abroad:

Friends for All Children
104/8 Soi Ronnachai 2, Setsiri Road
Bangkok 10400, Thailand
Tel:  (66-2) 279-1059
Fax:  (66-2) 617-1995
E-mail:  ffac_thailand@hotmail.com

Holt Sahathai Foundation
850/33 Soi Sukhumvit 71                   Mailing Address
Sukhumvit Road, Wattana                 P.O. Box Nana Nua 1478
Bangkok 10110, Thailand                   Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Tel:  (66-2) 381-8834-6
Fax:  (66-2) 381-8837
E-mail:  sahathai@asiaaccess.net.th

Thai Red Cross Foundation
Vajiralongkorn Building
King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital
Henri Dunant Road, Pathumwan
Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel:  (66-2) 256-4178, (66-2) 256-4207 ext. 201
Fax:  (66-2) 256-4277
E-mail:  trcch@redcross.or.th
Internet:  redcross.or.th/trcch

The Pattaya Orphanage
P.O. Box 300
Pattaya Post Office, Pattaya City
Chonburi 20260, Thailand
Tel:  (66-38) 423-468, (66-38) 416-426
Fax:  (66-38) 416-425, (66-38) 716-204
Internet:  thepattayaorphanage.org

Embassy of Thailand
The Royal Thai Embassy
1024 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Tel:  (202) 944-3600
Internet:  thaiembdc.org

Thailand also has consulates in: Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.

Office of Children’s Issues

U.S. Department of State
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel:  1-888-407-4747
Email:  AdoptionUSCA@state.gov     
Internet:  adoption.state.gov

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)
Internet: uscis.gov

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)
Email:  NBC.Adoptions@DHS.gov