Help! I have a question .....
I am a US citizen, a single woman, 42, with an excellent income and no criminal record. I met a child that I sponsor through the Tibet Fund, who is 8 years old, in India a few months ago in person. The little girl lives with her mother in a Tibetan refugee settlement. As a refugee, she has no Indian citizenship, no birth certificate, nothing.
The childs parents would like me to adopt the little girl and bring her to the US to raise and educate, and there's nothing I'd like more. I live in a metropolitan area, where I could send her to an excellent private school, and involve here with the local Tibetan American population to ensure she doesn't forget her Tibetan roots. But I am told that although her parents wish me to formally adopt her, and are willing to sign any paperwork to make this happen the State Department will probably not issue me a Visa to bring her here. Is this true?
Is there any way I can bring this little girl to the US? The parents want her here, I want her here, what's the problem?
... that you would be able to adopt and immigrate the child.
First off, there are two steps involved in any international adoption by U.S. citizens. The first is the actual adoption. The second is the acquisition of an adoption visa for the child so that the child could enter the U.S. legally.
As to the first step, a child must be adopted under the law of his country of citizenship, or placed with a family under a decree of guardianship from the child's country of citizenship for adoption in the U.S. The child is not a citizen of India, since she is a refugee from another country; thus, she could not be adopted or placed with a guardian for adoption in the U.S. under Indian law.
If the child is considered a Chinese citizen (and the Chinese consider Tibet to be part of China, even if many Tibetans do not), she must be adopted under Chinese law. Chinese law would make it impossible for you to adopt her, even if she lived in China, since all referrals of children to foreigners must be made by the China Center for Adoption Affairs, a branch of the Chinese government.
If you chose to adopt from China, you would have to work through a licensed U.S. agency, which would have to submit your paperwork to the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA), which would choose a child for you from one of its orphanages. The only exception would be in the case of a child that is in China's "special needs" program. In that case, a few U.S. agencies are permitted by the CCAA to show information on selected special needs children to American families. The children's dossiers must be given to the agencies by the CCAA. If a family expresses an interest in a particular child, the agency would send the family's dossier to China, which would formally make the referral.
It is not clear what can be done in the case of stateless children, which the child might be considered. Since many Tibetans recognize only a "government in exile", there would not appear to be a legal authority in Tibet that could legitimately agree to their adoption. This is a point that you might wish to clarify with an experienced immigration/adoption attorney in the U.S.
On the second point, the U.S. will not grant an adoption visa to any child who has not been either: a) legitimately adopted under the laws of his/her country of citizenship, or b) placed under the guardianship of a family by the country of his/her citizenship, with the understanding that he/she will be adopted in the U.S.
Also, the U.S. will not grant an adoption visa to a child who does not qualify as an "eligible orphan", as defined by the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Basically, a child who has married parents (or two parents in a common law relationship recognized by their country) is not going to qualify. Since you mentioned that both of the child's parents want you to adopt the child, I must suppose that they are married, even if they are currently living apart.
Even if you were, somehow, able to get custody of the child overseas, you could not get an adoption visa if she did not qualify under the INA. You would have to live overseas with her for two years in order to bring her home as your child.
It might be possible for you to obtain some other sort of visa that would allow you to bring the child to the U.S. for medical care or for education. I would urge you to contact a reputable immigration attorney in the U.S. to explore alternatives.
Hey thanks for the information, it makes sense, in the Byzantine fashion of immigration law. I was hoping that since she is a refugee for religious reasons, there might be some hope there.
I'll keep trying, and let you know what I find out, but I won't get my hopes up - or, more importantly, hers.
Ani J
... reputable immigration attorney.
While I am familiar with the rules governing international adoption, I am not an expert on immigration law in general. A competent immigration lawyer might be able to come up with strategies for bringing the girl to the U.S. on some other sort of visa.
Whether you would be able to adopt a child who comes to the U.S. on another type of visa, or whether that would violate USCIS or state law is another issue you would then have to address.
Hello Ani Jamyang, I am in the same situation that you were in 2004. I am looking to adopt a tibetan refugee kid from India. I was wondering if you could share any findings/insights that can help me. I would appreciate it very much. Thank you, Tenzin