Anyone out there who has adopted from the Pacific Islands? I know those might not be considered International adoption, as they are supported by America, but their practices are a bit different from the continent. We adopted our son from Guam a little over 20 years ago. I would like to connect with you and hear about your experiences. Thanks!
The countries you name are different from each other in the way adoptions are conducted. Here's my understanding of how they function.
Guam is a territory of the United States. Its residents are American citizens, and vote in American Presidential elections. As a result, adoptions from Guam are considered domestic adoptions, and you proceed as if you are adopting from a U.S. state. As an example, if you want to adopt from Guam's foster care system, you contact the Department of Public Health & Social Services, Bureau of Social Services Administration. Children in Guam's foster/adopt program are sometimes listed on AdoptUSKids. And Americans can adopt privately, if they happen to know of a woman from Guam who wants to make an adoption plan. Because residents of Guam are U.S. citizens, you don't need to obtain USCIS approval to bring your child into the U.S., or to obtain a visa for him/her; the child will be eligible for a U.S. passport. You will have to comply with ICPC, which ensures that the laws of both Guam and your home state are followed, just as when you live in New York, but adopt from Florida. And just as New York and Florida's laws differ from each other in smaller or larger ways, Guam's laws may differ a bit from the laws of your state -- for example, with regard to the termination of parental rights, the need for the child's consent if over a certain age, the requirements for the adoptive parents, and so on.
Unlike Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia is considered an independent nation composed of four states -- Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae. Its residents are NOT U.S. citizens. If you adopt from the country, you must go through the international adoption process, which includes obtaining USCIS approval for bringing an orphan into the U.S., using the I-600 (non-Hague) process. There is a Compact of Free Association between the Federated States of Micronesia and the U.S. that allows Micronesian citizens to travel to the U.S. for temporary stays without a visa, but this Compact does NOT allow Micronesian women to come to the U.S. to deliver babies and place them for adoption with U.S. families, and it does NOT allow Americans to bring adopted Micronesian children into the U.S. for permanent residence, without going through the I-600 process. In the past, and with some other countries, such as the Republic of the Marshall Islands(RMI), that are also under the Compact, agencies and facilitators sometimes misinterpreted the law and did these things, but you should be aware that the U.S., Micronesian, and RMI governments consider such actions to be illegal. You should never get involved with an agency or facilitator that tells you otherwise. You will need I-600 approval and your child will need an IR-3 or IR-4 visa. An IR-3 child will become a U.S. citizen upon entering the U.S., and an IR-4 child will become a citizen after his/her parents do a readoption or recognition of the foreign adoption in their U.S. state of residence.
Saipan is a municipality of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and some consider it the capital city. Residents of Saipan were given U.S. citizenship in 1986, so they now may vote in U.S. elections. Technically, they have similar status to residents of Guam. As a result, adoption from Saipan and the rest of the Northern Marianas should proceed like a domestic adoption. However, based on Northern Marianas adoption laws, it appears that anyone adopting there must reside there for at least a year prior to the adoption. This clearly would be a barrier to domestic adoption by most people within the U.S. Whether this law is currently in effect or enforced, I do not know.
Sharon
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