Adopting from Iran
Notice: As of July 14, 2014, all individuals and agencies facilitating international adoptions must be in compliance with the Intercountry Universal Accreditation Act.
Hague Convention Information
Iran is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F).
NOTE: In accordance with current Iranian practice, acquiring legal custody/guardianship by parents residing outside of Iran is not possible. Prospective adoptive parents must be Iranian citizens and fulfill all other required conditions for acquiring legal custody/guardianship. Applications must be submitted to the Iranian Welfare Organization (IWO). Recent cases indicate that applications from close family members have the greatest chance of being approved. Only the IWO and an appropriate court can determine whether each case, based on its own merits, is in the best interests of the child. Muslim children are only eligible for legal custody/guardianship by Muslim parents. Christian children are only eligible for legal custody/guardianship by Christian parents. Before a legal custody/guardianship is granted, strict procedures are applied in order to protect the children and to establish the suitability of prospective adoptive parents, including a six month probationary period during which time at least one of the parents needs to be residing in Iran with the child. In order to leave Iran with the child during the probationary period, the prospective adoptive parent would need to get explicit permission from the public prosecutor. The process is complicated and time-consuming. After a child has been placed with a family, Iranian authorities will perform periodic checks to ensure the child's physical and mental well-being.
The United States does not have diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and therefore cannot provide protection or routine consular services to U.S. citizens in Iran. The Swiss government, acting through its Embassy in Tehran, serves as the protecting power for U.S. interests in Iran and can provide limited consular services to U.S. citizens.
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
To bring a legal guardian child to the United States from Iran, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.
Who Can Adopt
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, you must also meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Iran:
Prospective adoptive parents who intend to acquire legal custody/guardianship for children in Iran must reside in Iran and they are required to be physically present in the country for fingerprinting and medical examinations. In addition, there is a six month probationary period and one of the parents may need to stay with the child during this period.
Age of Adopting Parents
One of the prospective adoptive parents must be at least 30 years old.
The prospective adoptive couple must be married for at least five years with no children. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual couples/individuals cannot acquire legal custody/guardianship of an orphan in Iran. Single women can only obtain guardianship of female children in Iran. Single men cannot acquire legal custody/guardianship of children in Iran.
The prospective adoptive couple is expected to have sufficient financial capacity to support the child.
Muslim and Christian prospective adoptive couples must have no criminal records, no addiction to drugs or alcohol and no diseases that are difficult to cure. If the couple is able to submit a medical report to prove that at least one of the spouses is incapable of conceiving, the court may exempt them from the requirements of five years of marriage and one of the parents being at least 30 years old.
Who Can Be Adopted
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, Iran has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for legal guardianship:
Relinquishment: The child's father, paternal grandfather, and mother must all be either unknown or dead.
Abandonment: The child must have been placed under the care of a public institution without any contact from any of the above listed relatives for three full years.
Age of Adoptive Child: The child must be under 12 full years of age.
Sibling Adoptions: None
Special Needs or Medical Conditions: None
Waiting Period or Foster Care: After consulting the institution or person in charge of the child's temporary care, and prior to issuance of legal custody/guardianship approval, the court will place the child in the care of the prospective adoptive parents for a six-month probation period. During the probation period, the court may terminate the guardianship upon request from the Public Prosecutor, the National Society for the Protection of Children, or the institution where the child was previously under care, or on the basis of its own conclusion. Likewise, the prospective adoptive parents may declare that they have changed their minds during the probation period, in which case the court will terminate the legal custody/guardianship.
Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are adoptable. In many countries, including Iran, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption.
How to Adopt
Iran's Adoption Authority
Iranian Welfare Organization (Edareh Beh Zistiti, Bakhshe Farzand Khandegi) Address: 188 Karimkhan St., Tehran
The process for adopting a child from Iran generally includes the following steps:
- Choose an Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to obtain Legal Guardianship
- Be Matched with a Child
- Obtain Legal Custody of Child in Iran
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status
- Bring Your Child Home
1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
The recommended first step in adopting a child from Iran is to decide whether or not to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States that can help you with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. The Department of State provides information on selecting an adoption service provider on its website.
There are no formal adoption agencies in Iran assisting individuals in the Iranian guardianship process. Iranian NGOs such as "The Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child" may be helpful resources.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to obtain Legal Guardianship
In order to obtain legal custody/guardianship of a child from Iran, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Iran and U.S. Immigration law. You must submit an application to be found eligible to obtain legal custody/guardianship with the IWO of Iran.
To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you should file an I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be found eligible and suitable to adopt.
3. Be Matched with a Child
If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, your adoption service provider, or an authorized entity in Iran will provide you with a referral. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of and provide a permanent home for a particular child.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Iran’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law.
4. Obtain Legal Custody of Child in Iran
The process for gaining legal custody in Iran generally includes the following:
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The IWO is the decision making authority in legal custody/guardianship cases. Prospective adoptive parents intending to acquire legal custody/guardianship of a child should contact and inform the organization of their intent, after which the organization may be able to open a file for the family and assign a case number.
- ROLE OF THE COURT: Create a file at the Judicial Center with the required documents and translations. File at Judicial Center(s) should be created as a part of the legal custody/guardianship process by submitting the required documents with necessary translations.
- ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: Adoption agencies do not operate in Iran.
- ADOPTION APPLICATION: Prospective adoptive parents must file a formal application with the IWO, and get approval from to the court to initiate the legal custody/guardianship process. Prospective adoptive parents are also required to pass physical and mental examinations. They will need to provide the court with information on any criminal history. After the above steps are completed and the petition is approved, the court will issue an introduction letter to the IWO. A series of interviews take place at the IWO, and a file in the orphanage is established. The head nurse at the orphanage will refer the file to the Adoption Affairs Office. Interviews and visits by a social worker and referral to any necessary offices(s) will follow. The prospective adoptive parents may need to meet with an adoption council (or its representative) at this stage to the orphanage’s social office. The prospective adoptive parents are now put on a waiting list, and the child selection process begins. After the selection, the child goes through a medical examination by a physician selected by the prospective adoptive parents. Mental and physical health certificates for the child are issued by a Specialist. At the end of this process, the IWO refers the case to the court. The court issues a temporary custody document and places the child with the prospective adoptive parents as guardians for a six month probationary period.
- TIME FRAME: The prospective adoptive parents are initially granted six-months of temporary custody. At the end of that period, the court may grant full custody, or extend the temporary custody, which can be as long as three years.
- ADOPTION FEES: Not known
- DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: (all English documents must be translated into Farsi, certified by the Department of Official Translators’ Affairs of the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Registration and Personal Status Department, and provided in duplicate):
- 1. A “Request” form must be completed and signed by both prospective adoptive parents at the .
- 2. Prospective adoptive parents’ original and notarized copies of their birth certificates (Shenasnameh)
- 3. Prospective adoptive parents’ original and notarized copies of their marriage certificate
- 4. Prospective adoptive parents’ original notarized copy of the infertility certificate
- 5. Prospective adoptive parents’ test results of their physical and mental health (including addiction tests)
- 6. Prospective adoptive parents’ police records
- 7. Prospective adoptive parents’ proof of financial status
- 8. Prospective adoptive parents’ last education document (diploma)
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested.
- Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications Office may be able to assist.
5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status
After you gain legal custody/guardianship in Iran, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.
6. Bring Your Child Home
Once you have obtained legal custody/guardianship of the child, you need to apply for several documents for your child before you can apply for a U.S. immigrant visa to bring your child home to the United States:
- 1. Birth Certificate
After you have gained legal custody/guardianship in Iran, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate (shenasnameh) for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate. Your guardian child's name should also be included into your “shenasnameh(s)” as your child, so that you can later apply for a passport.
How to obtain a Passport for your child in Iran
Your guardian child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Iran. He/she can be included in one of the adoptive parent's Iranian passport. The form and passport file can be obtained at the electronic service desks of disciplinary forces (Police +10) or postal centers. The addresses for passport offices in the greater Tehran area are:
- Tehran Pars passport office- first intersection of Tehran Pars- Parvin Blvd-second floor
- Yaft Abad passport office - Yaft Abad intersection- Moallem Blvd. -
- Shahrerey Passport office - Fadaian Islam Blvd-Basij Blvd, next to Gas Department. The price for the Iranian passport application form is 37,500 Riyal, and the price for the passport is 750,000 Riyal.
- 2. U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you will need to visit the U.S. Embassy either in Ankara, Turkey, Yerevan, Armenia, or Abu Dhabi, UAE for final review and approval of the child’s I-600 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. The immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. In order to obtain an immigrant visa, you will need to have your adopted child undergo a medical examination by an authorized panel physicians. You should provide the panel physician with vaccination or other medical records to help the panel physicians determine your guardian child's medical condition. The cost of the medical report is $150-200 depending on the child's health. As part of the process for adjudicating the immigrant visa, the Consular Officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) 2007 Tuberculosis Technical Instructions (TB TIs) for the TB medical screening apply to all immigrant visa applicants, including adopted children. The 2007 TB TIs include new requirements that affect the pace at which some adoption cases can be concluded. Please visit the CDC's website at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/panel_2007.htm for further information regarding the 2007 “Technical Instructions for Tuberculosis Screening and Treatment for Panel Physicians”.
The Iranian court may not grant legal custody/guardianship before the six month probationary period is finalized. It is not possible to issue an immigrant visa to an applicant without a court decree that grants custody. The initial court decree, which grants the six month probationary period, does not serve as the final custody decree for immigration purposes, even if it grants full custody to the adoptive parents. In some cases, the judges may issue a decree lifting the six month probationary period. You, as the guardian parents, must specifically request this waiver from the judge if you wish to immigrate with the child to the U.S. before the six month period is completed.
Documentation about the child's background and primary evidence of abandonment is also required for the visa adjudication. If you gain custody of the child from an orphanage, you will need to provide an official report from the Iranian Welfare Organization. The report must give detailed information about the child's background and parents' whereabouts, if known. If yours is a private adoption, you will need to provide similar documentation about the child's background. This documentation should be obtained from the existing parent of the child. The orphan's existing parent must give his/her consent for the adoption of the child and must give a notarized statement. This document must state that he/she is unconditionally forsaken all parental rights, obligations and claims to the child, as well as all control over the physical custody of the child. In addition to the existing parent's statement, you should also provide a document from the prosecuting attorney agreeing to the immigration of the child to U.S. with the guardian parent to obtain a full and final adoption.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: Pursuant to the provisions of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, children who enter the U.S. on an IR-3 or IH-3 immigrant visa automatically acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry to the United States for the purpose of lawful permanent residence.
For adoptions finalized in the United States: Pursuant to the provisions of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, children who enter the United States on an IR-4 or IH-4 immigrant visa automatically acquire U.S. citizenship when a court in the United States issues the final adoption decree.
Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports. Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining a Visa to travel Iran
In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Iran, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there’s a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in COUNTRY registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
We strongly urge you to comply with and complete all Iranian post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country's history of positive experiences with American parents.
Post Adoption Resources
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it’s another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some good places to start your support group search:
NOTE: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey:
Iran Adoption Authority
Iranian Welfare Organization (Edareh Beh Zistiti, Bakhshe Farzand Khandegi) Address: 188 Karimkhan St., Tehran
Embassy of Iran
Office of Children's Issues
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)