When you adopt a child internationally, it can be a long and exhausting process. But it may not be completely over when you arrive back in the United States.
One of the most important processes of your international adoption is finalizing it in the United States and ensuring your adopted child’s American citizenship. How your adoption is completed in a foreign country will determine whether or not you need to take the additional step of domesticating your international adoption, so we highly recommend contacting a South Carolina lawyer to make sure your international adoption is truly complete.
At the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson, we can handle the domestication of that foreign adoption decree — a step we highly recommend to protect your child’s rights as a U.S. citizen.
Please call us at 864-573-5533 today to discuss your individual case.
In the meantime, here’s what you should know about international adoption in South Carolina:
Why You Need to Domesticate Your Foreign Adoption
International adoptions can be complicated, as your process will need to conform to both the regulations of your child’s country of origin and the United States. Because foreign countries have different adoption processes, your child’s U.S. citizenship may not be ensured upon arrival to the United States. Without ensuring your child’s adoption is completely finalized upon arrival, you could expose yourself and your family to legal challenges later on in life.
You can also determine which steps are necessary based on the kind of visa your child used to enter the U.S.
IR-4 and IH-4 Visas: Why You’ll Need to Finalize an International Adoption
If your child received an IR-4 visa (or an IV-4 visa from a country of the Hague Convention) to enter the U.S., the adoption was likely not finalized in their country of birth. These visas are typically given when a child was not seen by both the parents prior to or during the adoption.
An IH-4 visa only gives your child a permanent resident card, or green card. They do not receive automatic U.S. citizenship upon entry and will only receive citizenship if you finalize their adoption in the United States. To complete your child’s adoption and protect their citizenship rights, you will need to finalize their adoption in South Carolina with an experienced international adoption lawyer. An attorney can help you collect the necessary paperwork for international adoption finalization, prepare you for a finalization hearing in court and obtain a new state-issued birth certificate and social security number for your child.
Keep in mind: Just because a foreign country frees a child for adoption does not mean that the adoption decree has been granted. This is commonly the case when a child enters the U.S. on an IR-4 visa. It’s important that you contact an experienced lawyer to review your visa and adoption paperwork to make sure an adoption has been completed correctly.
IR-3 Visa: Why You Should Complete a Domestication of Foreign Adoption
If your child arrives in the United States with an IR-3 visa, it is likely that they acquired U.S. citizenship, as long as they are younger than 18 years old. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will send a Certificate of Citizenship to you without requiring any extra forms or fees.
However, even if your child already has U.S. citizenship, it’s highly recommended that you obtain a domestication of foreign adoption to secure your child’s rights. This process involves a review by a South Carolina court to ensure your adoption meets state standards and will give you an order stating your adoption is legally recognized in the state of South Carolina.
A domestication of foreign adoption is a fairly simple process that results in several benefits for you, especially being issued a new U.S. birth certificate for your child. In South Carolina, this document is entitled “Certificate of Foreign Birth.” It is much easier to obtain a copy of a U.S. birth certificate than a foreign birth certificate, and it will also make everyday tasks (like applying for a driver’s license or enrolling in school) much easier for your child.
Attorney Jim Thompson can help you complete your domestication of foreign adoption. He’ll determine what steps you need to take and help you gather necessary documentation, including:
- A petition seeking domestication of your foreign adoption
- A post-placement study completed after you have settled back into the U.S. with your adopted child
- Naturalization papers
- And any other documents the court may request
Remember, completing a domestication of foreign adoption is a cost-effective process that is highly recommended for all families who complete an international adoption. With an experienced attorney like Jim Thompson, it can be completed quickly and efficiently to protect your child’s status as a citizen and give you peace of mind as they grow up.
Get Started Today
If you’re not sure about what kind of visa your child received when you adopted them in another country, the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson can help you learn more about what process you’ll need to complete. Please call us today at 864-573-5533 or contact us online to discuss your international adoption.