How to Adopt from Hong Kong S.A.R.
Hong Kong's Adoption Authority
Adoption Unit of the Social Welfare Department
Because Hong Kong has implemented the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Hong Kong 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 Hong Kong 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.
The process for adopting a child from Hong Kong generally includes the following steps:
- Choose an Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be Matched with a Child
- Adopt the Child in Hong Kong
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
- Bring Your Child Home
1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider:
The first step in adopting a child from Hong Kong 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 Hong Kong.
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).
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 Hong Kong. Hong Kong's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Hong Kong law.
The Hong Kong-licensed provider will submit the adoption application to the Hong Kong central authority, including any preferences the prospective adoptive parents may have about the child's age, sex, physical/medical condition, or region of origin within Hong Kong. The application package should also include a cover letter, written along the lines found at the following website.
The Hong Kong central authority reviews the documents and advises the prospective adoptive parent(s), either directly or through their adoption agency, whether additional documents or authentications are required. In addition to meeting the U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, you need to meet the requirements of Hong Kong as described in the "WHO" tab.
3. Be Matched with a Child:
If both the United States and Hong Kong determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Hong King 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.
Once the Hong Kong central authority approves the application, it matches the application with a specific child. The central authority then sends the prospective adoptive parent(s) a letter of introduction about the child, including photographs and the child's health record. This document is commonly called a 'referral.' Prospective adoptive parents who still have questions about the child after reviewing this information may follow up with the Hong Kong central authority either directly or via their adoption agency .
4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:
Prospective adoptive parent(s) then either accept or refuse the referral and send the document to their agency, which forwards it to the Hong Kong central authority. If prospective adoptive parent(s) are considering refusing a referral they should discuss with their agency the possibility of getting a second referral.
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 Hong Kong 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.
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Hong Kong, 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 Hong Kong.
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The Director of the Social Welfare Department reviews the documentation to determine if the adoption is in the best interests of the child. Upon approval, the Social Welfare Department will file a court order to pass the care and control of the child to the Director of the U.S. adoption agency. (If the prospective adoptive parents are residents of Hong Kong, the child is released into their home for at least six months.) During the six months of living with the family, an adoption social worker makes periodic visits to determine if adoption by the prospective adoptive parents is in the best interest of the child.
- ROLE OF THE COURT: The District Court grants the adoption order and issues the final adoption certificate. For non-residents of Hong Kong, the finalization of the adoption passes the care and control of the child from the U.S. adoption agency to the adoptive parents.
- ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: The adoption agency arranges the prospective adoptive parents' home study. The adoption agency works with one of the agencies in Hong Kong that have been accredited to facilitate international adoptions. The U.S. adoption agency forwards the home study report and supporting documents to the Hong Kong accredited body. The Hong Kong agency submits the documentation to the Social Welfare Department. Currently the following agencies have been accredited in Hong Kong to facilitate intercountry adoptions: International Social Service (ISS), Po Leung Kuk, and Mother's Choice Overseas Adoption Service. The ISS works closely with Hong Kong's Social Welfare Department in placing children overseas. Mother's Choice specializes in placing children with special needs - ranging from vision and hearing impairment to cerebral palsy, down's syndrome, and developmental delays.
International Social Service Hong Kong Branch 6/F., Southorn Center 130 Hennessy Road Wanchai, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2834-6863 Fax: (852) 2834-7627 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: International Social Service Hong Kong Branch
(U.S. Office) 700 Light Street Baltimore, MD 21230 Tel: (410) 230-2734 Fax: (410) 230-2741
Intercountry Adoption Service Po Leung Kuk 66 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Tel.: (852) 2277 8368 Fax: (852) 2577 7380
- ADOPTION APPLICATION: The adoption application is filed with the Adoption Unit of the Social Welfare Department.
- TIME FRAME: The average amount of time required to complete an intercountry adoption ranges from 12-24 months. The timeframe may be increased if the prospective adoptive parents have specific requests regarding the child's age and/or medical conditions.
- ADOPTION FEES: The Social Welfare Department's Adoption Unit provides an assessment of the prospective adoptive parents' suitability to adopt at no charge. Adoptive parents based in Hong Kong are required to pay $2,840 HK for acting as guardian ad litem while the adoption proceedings are finalized. Prospective adoptive parents residing outside of Hong Kong are not required to pay this fee. In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
- DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: The following is a list of documents required to adopt a child from Hong Kong:
- 1. Copy of U.S. passport;
- 2. Copy of marriage certificate (if applicable);
- 3. Evidence of termination of previous marriage (if applicable);
- 4. Proof of income;
- 5. Copies of school credentials;
- 6. Evidence of prior adoptions (if any); and
- 7. Satisfactory home study report and medical examination reports of the adopting parents. (These documents are not required by Hong Kong to be authenticated. The agencies in the U.S. engaging in adoptions submit notarized home study and physical exam reports in adoption cases.) 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 several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
- 1. Birth Certificate
The Social Welfare Department will obtain the child's original birth certificate (or certified duplicate) from the Hong Kong Birth Registry. This document will then be passed to the agency that is caring for the child. Adoptive parents can apply for their names to be added as annotations to the child's birth certificate.
- 2. Hong Kong Passport
Your child is not yet an American citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Hong Kong.
- 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 Consulate General for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Consulate General 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.
On November 3, 2008, the U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong's panel physicians began using the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) 2007 Tuberculosis Technical Instructions (TB TIs) for the TB medical screening for all immigrant visa applicants from Hong Kong and Macau, 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 for further information regarding the 2007 Technical Instructions for Tuberculosis Screening and Treatment for Panel Physicians.
To learn about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
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