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Did you finalize the international adoption of your child?

Chances are, when you brought home your internationally adopted child in the early 2000s, you had been involved in the process for quite some time, perhaps even years. During that time, it is possible that the adoption laws underwent a series of changes that left you back peddling or scrambling for additional documentation. One certainty is that, once you and your child were united, you wanted to make sure everything in his or her new life was perfect.

Right about now, your child is making plans to get a driver's license, request financial aid or apply to colleges. Maybe your child needs a passport because the high school band or Spanish club is planning an international trip or you have decided the time is right to take your child back to the place where he or she was born. Now may be an awkward time to ask, but, did you finalize your child's adoption?

Missing a crucial step

If you adopted your child under the Hague Convention in 2008 or later, chances are the adoption is complete. A child who comes into the country with an IH-3 or IR-3 visa arrived with a fully finalized adoption. However, there may be several reasons why your child's adoption was not finalized when you brought him or her home:

  • If you brought your child into the U.S. under a Guardianship Order for the purpose of completing the adoption process in this country
  • If only you (without your partner) traveled overseas to bring the child home
  • If an escort brought the child into the United States and met you here

A child who comes into the U.S. with an IH-4 or and IR-4 visa may not have completed the adoption process, and you must finalize the adoption in your home state of Texas. If you neglected to do this, you will certainly want to rectify the situation as soon as possible.

Vital documentation

Begin by contacting the agency responsible for your home study. You may also wish to secure the assistance of an attorney with experience in the fluctuating rules of international adoption to minimize the chances of missteps that will stall the process. While each state has different rules, and the laws change frequently, the typical items you will need include the following:

  • A certified English translation of your child's adoption decree
  • Critical documentation of the adoption, such as birth certificates and court documents
  • Proof of your own citizenship with documents such as a passport or certificate of citizenship
  • A Social Security card for your child with his or her legally adopted name
  • A state-issued birth certificate for your child

There may be other documents and forms to gather and complete, and your attorney can certainly assist you in procuring these from the appropriate agencies. As an additional precaution, some experts recommend re-adopting your child in Texas since foreign adoption credentials are frequently originals with no backup copies. With the final steps taken to complete your child's adoption process, you can look forward to watching your child step out into the world with confidence.

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