The UAA has been in effect for over a year. It requires families seeking a relative adoption or arranging for the adoption on their own to have the services of a primary provider. In establishing this requirement, what the UAA has done is to give a blueprint, a way to approach and successfully complete these unique adoptions.
Having a procedure for these adoptions will be a great benefit. Some families came to us the first year of the UAA, with the wrong home study, or the wrong grant of custody from the court, bad paperwork, a pending Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent of Deny. Some of the children should have been able to be approved, but sadly, vital steps in the adoption had been incorrectly done. Families should not have been expected to navigate the complexities of international adoption on their own. Now, they do not have to.
New Beginnings has seen our first year of services under the UAA, here are some Do’s and Don’ts for our families and clients interested in UAA adoptions:
- Do remember that it is an ‘adoption process.’ The steps in the process are important. The adoption process should begin with a Hague home study done by or under the supervision of a Primary Provider. Then you file the I-600A to USCIS for approved. Along with this, the Primary Provider will design a Service Plan for the adoption process here and abroad. Going out of sequence increase the chance that the surrender or court order is not done correctly or can not be used.
- Don’t just get anyone to do your home study. The home study must be done or supervised by a Hague authorized agency. Too often a family has a home study done by a private social worker only to have their case declined by USCIS for not having a Hague home study. If it is not a Hague home study, it will not be useable for international adoption. Don’t waste your time and money.
- Do get a Sample Contract and a Fee Disclosure. You will need a primary provider; there is no way around it. There is a wide range in the complexity in UAA adoptions making fees harder to predict, but agencies will provide a sample contract and fees upon request. As a starting point, you are welcome to see our fees for Primary Provider Services.
- Don’t identify a child that you want to adopt on your own. Families that have found a child they want to adopt, and then begin the process, will have much more difficulty, with a high risk that the adoption will be denied by USCIS. Moreover, adoption services must be done with a primary provider, not on your own. So, do not go to the orphanage and identify a child then start the home study. And, if you receive information about your friend’s friend who is too poor to take care of her child, unless you are going to move to that country, the child is probably not adoptable. Of course, relative adoptions are an exception. The identity of the child is given, but still do not do the adoption abroad first. Begin the home study, and then complete the adoption in country.
- Do adopt an orphan. International adoption is also an immigration issue. For USCIS to grant a Visa for an adopted child to immigrate, the child must be a legal orphan. For immigration purposes, an orphan is a foreign born child who: does not have any parents because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents; or has a sole or surviving parent who is unable to care for the child, consistent with the local standards of the foreign sending country, and who has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption. One other role of the Primary Provider is to make sure the evidence is gathered to verify orphan status.
The UAA has provided a guideline for how to do any international adoption. It won’t assure that all adopted children will be granted a visa, but there is a process, that, if followed, will greatly increase the likelihood that your adoption will be a success.