How to Adopt from Belgium

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Adoption Authority

Belgium's Adoption Authority(ies)

Residents of the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium should contact:

Kind en Gezin Hallepoortlaan 27 1060 Brussels e-mail: tel.: (02) 533 14 76

Residents of the French-speaking part of Belgium should contact:

Autorité Communautaire pour l'Adoption Internationale (ACAI) Boulevard Leopold II, 44, 1080 Brussels tel.: (02) 413 2726.

Residents of the German-speaking community should contact:

Ministerium der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft Zentrale Behörde der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft für Adoptionen Gospertstrasse 1 B-4700 Eupen Fax.: +32 (87) 55 64 74 Tel.: + 32 (87) 59 63 46

The Process

Because Belgium is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Belgium must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.

NOTE: If you filed your I-600a with Belgium before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more.

  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
  3. Be Matched with a Child
  4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
  5. Adopt the Child in Belgium
  6. Bring your Child Home

1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:

The first step in adopting a child from Belgium is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Belgium. Learn more.

2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:

After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.

Once the U.S. government determines that you are "eligible"? and "suitable"? to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Belgium. Belgium's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Belgium's law.

3. Be Matched with a Child:

If both the United States and Belgium determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Belgium may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.

4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:

After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.

After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application for to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities. If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify the Belgium's adoption authority (Article 5 letter). For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place.

Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

5. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Belgium:

Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Belgium, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Belgium.

The following are the adoption procedures for American citizens living in Belgium who want to adopt a child from a third country:

  • ADOPTION APPLICATION - ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: Apply to the central authority of your community (Flemish or French speaking). After submitting your application, you will be invited to take a preparation course required for all prospective adoptive parents.
  • ROLE OF THE COURT: With the certificate of completion of the preparation course, a request is filed with the court to find you eligible to adopt. The court will order a home study. A service for the home study will invite you for four interviews. A social worker and psychologist will do the interview and make a report to advise the judge. The judge will then decide whether you are eligible to adopt. Remember: The adoption of a Belgian child by citizens living in the United States (very exceptional, normally only for adoption of family-members) will be pronounced by a Belgian court.
  • ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: Prospective adoptive parents should contact the adoption authority for the region of Belgium where they reside for information on Belgian adoption agencies. The adoption agency will send the file of the applicant(s) to the country of origin and wait for them to propose a child for adoption. The country of origin will send the file on an adoptable child to the adoption agency. After the approval of the match by the central authority, the prospective adoptive parents will be informed and the procedure in the country of origin may continue.
  • TIME FRAME: The time it takes to complete an adoption varies, depending on the child's country of origin.
  • ADOPTION FEES: Most fees will depend on the child's country of origin. Belgian fees, not including pre-approved fees (including the home study), vary depending on which community (Flemish-speaking, French speaking) the prospective adoptive parents reside in.
  • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: Judgment of eligibility and home study are always necessary. Other documents depend on the country of origin of the child.

NOTE: Additional documents may be requested.

6. Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:

1. Birth Certificate

You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

For more information on this process, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Belgium.

2. Belgium Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Belgium. A passport can be obtained in the community where the child is registered.

3. U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the Panel Physician's medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.

NOTE: The U.S. Embassy in Belgium does not issue Immigrant Visas. All Immigrant Visa for Belgium are issued by the U.S. Consulate General in Naples, Italy.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.

For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.

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.

Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.

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