A first step is to file an application with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Your application will consist of a USCIS form, a home study, an application fee, and other supporting documents. The form you use depends on the foreign country from which you would like to adopt. To know which form to file, you will need to know if your adoption is subject to the Hague Adoption Convention (view list). For a Convention country, file Form I-800A. (A Convention country is a party to the Hague Adoption Convention.) For a country not party to the Hague Adoption Convention, use Form I-600A.
Forms I-800A and I-600A allow prospective adoptive parents to demonstrate that they are eligible to adopt and capable of providing proper care to a child. They ask for relevant information about you and, if you are married, your spouse. They request supporting documentation, such as proof of citizenship and proof of marital status (if applicable). If there are any additional adult members residing in your household other than you and your spouse, you will also be required to submit a supplemental form about those individuals.
For Hague Convention Adoptions
If you wish to adopt a child from a Hague Adoption Convention country, you must begin the adoption process by filing Form I-800A. Do not accept any adoption placement before USCIS has approved Form I-800A. During this time, you must also refrain from any contact with parents, legal custodians, or other individual or entity responsible for the care of the child who may be eligible for adoption.
For Non-Hague Convention Adoptions
If you wish to adopt a child from a country not party to the Hague Adoption Convention, you may choose to file the Form I-600A before identifying a child for adoption. You may also file the Form I-600 with USCIS in cases where the child is known and you are traveling to the country where the child is located. Either way, the child must remain in the foreign country where he or she is located until processing is complete.
It is very important to fill out your Form I-800A or I-600A (or I-600) properly and completely. If you do not complete the form, or file it without required supporting documentation, USCIS may deny your petition. USCIS provides detailed instructions:
Where to File
USCIS charges a filing fee of $670 USD. An additional fingerprint fee of $80 USD must be paid for each person residing in your household who is 18 years of age or older. The latest fee information is posted on the USCIS website.
Form I-800A – File with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox facility at the following address:
P.O. Box 805695
Chicago, IL 60680-4118
131 South Dearborn – 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5510
Form I-600A or I-600 – File at local USCIS office in the United States with jurisdiction over your place of residence. See their Field Office Locator. Under certain circumstances, Form I-600 may also be filed overseas.
USCIS evaluates your suitability and eligibility to be adoptive parents. If the application is approved, USCIS will send you written notification.
For Form I-800A, the period of approval is 15 months from the date that USCIS was notified of your fingerprint record check results. You are entitled to request one extension of this approval with no additional fee and second extension of the approval with a fee.
Form I-600A approval lasts 18 months. For more information on extending the validity of an I-600A, see the USCIS website.
USCIS requires prospective adoptive parents to be fingerprinted for the purpose of conducting FBI criminal background checks. To better ensure both the quality and integrity of the process, you must be fingerprinted at an authorized site. Authorized fingerprint sites include USCIS offices, Application Support Centers, and U.S. embassies and consular offices and military installations abroad. In general, USCIS schedules people to be fingerprinted at an authorized fingerprint site after an application. USCIS charges $80 USD per person at the time of filing for this fingerprinting service. (Note that fingerprint validity for I-600A is only 15 months.)
Prospective Adoptive Parent(s) Eligiblity Criteria
Like all Americans considering adoption, persons with disabilities and persons in certain protected categories (for example, age, sex, race, color, national origin, or religion) must also comply with three sets of laws in order to adopt: U.S. federal law, the laws of the child’s country of origin, and the laws of your home U.S. state.
U.S. federal law does not prohibit Americans with disabilities or those in certain federally defined protected categories from being an adoptive parent. However, some countries or origin, for example, do forbid individuals with certain disabilities from adopting. Likewise, some countries of origin may restrict single parent adoptions. U.S. state law on the eligibility requirements for prospective adoptive parent(s) also varies. When deciding to pursue intercountry adoption, do your research. Find out your state’s requirements and restrictions. We recommend viewing the section on U.S. state laws maintained by the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
If a country of origin has notified the Department of its eligibility requirements, then such eligibility requirements may be included in the Country Information section of our website.
For more information about filing an I-800A or an I-600A, or an I-600, call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283