Q and A regarding Hague Convention Adoptions
Part One – Agencies, Attorneys and Adoption Service Providers…oh, my!
Q. I need a Home Study. What questions should I be asking?
A. Usually, it is more efficient and more economical, if you use the services of a Hague Accredited Agency. If not, it will be necessary for an accredited agency to certify your Home Study. You will pay one agency to conduct the Home Study and then pay an additional fee to an accredited agency to certify your Home Study – two fees. If you use an accredited agency, you only have one fee to pay.
Q. I want to adopt a child from Colombia and I have found an accredited agency with such a program. However this agency is in another state. They advised me to use another accredited agency for my Home Study. Why do I need two different Hague accredited agencies?
A. Each agency has different functions. One agency is responsible for your Home Study and the other will be your primary provider. You need both and there is no duplication of work or fees.
Q. What is a Primary Provider?
A. A Primary Provider is an accredited entity that takes full responsibility of your case, from beginning to end. A Primary Provider can only be one of the following:
Accredited Agency is a licensed agency that is not-for-profit
Approved Person is a licensed attorney or a for profit adoption agency
Q. I keep hearing the term Accredited. What is that all about?
A. The Council on Accreditation, COA accredits agencies, attorneys and social workers. It is a huge undertaking to go through the accreditation process. The requirements include having written policies and procedures for all of the steps required to complete a Hague Convention Adoption.
All accredited agencies can perform a Home Study. However, every accredited agency is not authorized to work in all of the Hague Convention Countries. Some countries limit and certify a finite number of accredited agencies that are permitted to work in their countries. China, Columbia, India, Mexico, the Philippines are just a few of countries that limit the number of agencies.
Q. Can my home study agency be my primary provider?
A. Yes, but make sure to ask them if they will act as your primary provider. If an agency does not have a program in a specific country, they may not be interested in learning the terrain of another country.
Q. Why must a Hague accredited agency conductor certify my Home Study?
A. Regulations mandate USCIS to only accept a Home Study that is prepared or certified by an accredited agency.
Q. I was told that I should find a primary provider that is located in my state. Is that true?
A. Your Home Study should be prepared by an agency that is licensed as adoption agency in the state where you reside.
Q. I have an experienced immigration attorney, who has even appeared before the US Supreme Court. Can he be my primary provider and represent me in a Hague Adoption?
A. No. The procedure of Hague adoptions is steeped in procedure. The sending country will only communicate with an accredited entity. Additionally, USCIS will only accept I-800 from an accredited agency that has received Article 16 from the proper government authorities.
Information about Steffas & Associates, P.C.
Steffas & Associates, P.C. is a law firm with many years of experience in immigration law and domestic adoptions.
The Council on Accreditation accredited the firm in 2009 and renewed accreditation in 2011. Our current continues through September 2019. As an accredited entity, our official title is Approved Person or Approved Lady.
Because we are not an agency, we do not conduct Home Studies. We do not find babies or children for families to adopt. We have no programs working with orphanages or programs in any countries.
Our Hague adoption practices focuses on Relative Adoptions. Our office believes that families take care of their families. When children are in need and their relatives in the US want to parent them, we assist uniting the family.
Are adoptions of relatives exempt from all the Hague regulations?
Almost all adoptions must comply with the Hague regulations.
Which adoptions are outside of the scope of the Hague Convention?
Stepparent adoptions are not governed by the Hague convention or the Intercountry Adoption Act. If a stepparent marries the child’s mother or father before the child’s 18th birthday, then another immigration remedy exists for the child to come to the US and become a legal permanent resident.
Is it true that once I adopt a child, he automatically becomes a US citizen?
No. First USCIS must grant the child an immigrant visa to become a legal permanent resident. If an adopted child is granted legal permanent residence before his 18th birthday, he automatically becomes a US citizen by operation of law, under the Child Citizenship Act.
Why does an adopted child need a Certificate of Citizenship?
When an adopted child immigrates to the United States he or she is given an alien registration number. When a family applies for a child’s Certificate of Citizenship, the US government completes the child’s file. Once a child is a US citizen, he cannot lose it.