The home study process is time consuming and stressful, no matter how you go about it, but if you have chosen to pursue an international adoption, you may have a little more stress, and a few more hoops to jump through before you are approved to adopt.
Both domestic and international home studies start off requiring similar things. The paperwork requests names, social security numbers, health clearances by your doctor, proof of funds, tax returns, background checks, and home visits. However, depending on the country from which you are hoping to adopt, an international home study may require more paperwork and “proof” of your readiness to adopt.
In order to find out more about the home study process for international adoptions, I was able to interview Diana Rytting, a social worker, licensed home study provider, and adoptive mother, who has adopted both domestically and internationally.
Question: How is an international home study different than a domestic home study?
Diana: International home studies vary depending upon the country you adopt from. Each country has its own specific rules and verifications they require. The social worker you hire needs to do their homework so they know what needs to be included in your specific case. It is also important to make sure your home study provider works for a Hauge Accredited agency. Per the Intercountry Adoption Act, passed in 2000, all international home studies must be done by an adoption agency with Hauge accreditation, even if the country you are adopting from is not Hauge approved.
Some things other countries may require are:
- A more detailed income report. Domestic adoption requires your tax return, but international adoption may also require a notarized letter from your employer stating how long you have worked there, what your yearly pay is, and how secure your position is.
- A notarized letter from your city or local police station stating that you are a citizen in good standing.
- Background checks and finger prints. This is the same requirement for a domestic home study.
- One thing to note is that for some countries, every single paper you submit needs to be notarized or stamped by the office or agency verifying it for you.
- At least 10+ hours of education training.
One question hopeful adoptive parents who are new to the process may have is: What is Hauge Accreditation?
Hauge Accreditation, also known as the Intercourntry Adoption Act, was an international treaty put in place to protect children, biological families, and adoptive parents. Many strict regulations were put into place to prevent child trafficking in international adoptions. For an adoption agency to legally facilitate international adoptions, they must have completed the steps and training required to obtain this accreditation. This is why it is imperative that hopeful adoptive couples choose an agency with this accreditation.
Q: What is pre-approval?
Dianna: Many countries require that a hopeful adoptive couple obtain a pre-approval before they are allowed to move forward with the adoption process. Pre-approval is a statement of intent to adopt from a certain country. Special forms must be filled out. An I-600A form is required for non-Hauge approved countries, and an I-800A form is for Hauge approved countries.
Q: Having been through the process yourself, what advice would you give to hopeful adoptive parents who are considering international adoption?
Dianna: International adoption is a long, emotional process. It could take months or years to actually bring a child home once the initial match is made. Your home study may expire, your background checks may expire, and your I-600/I-800 may expire during that time. Be prepared to keep those items up to date.
Also, find a good agency that will educate and prepare you for the realities of international adoption. Children who come from orphanages have experienced trauma. They may have a difficult time forming emotional attachments. For some parents, they believe that the hard part is getting their child home, but the reality is different. The hard part happens after you get home. You need to be prepared for that. Sadly, many international adoptions become disrupted, and the family decides they are not able to cope with the difficulties their children bring. This is sad for the families, but is especially devastating for the children who find themselves in need of a new family. It only adds to their trauma. Read books, take classes, and make sure you are prepared for what things will be like at home. A good agency will help you prepare.
Choosing whether to pursue international or domestic adoption is a very personal decision, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is one that should be made with a lot of thought and education. With enough preparation, both can be very rewarding.