How to Adopt from Thailand

School children

WARNING: Thailand is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Thailand before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.

Adoption Authority

Thailand’s Adoption Authority

Child Adoption Center (CAC), Department of Social Development and Welfare (DSDW)

In addition, four non-governmental organizations are licensed to work with the CAC in cases where a child is to be placed abroad. Contact information for each organization is available in the “Contact Information” section.

  • Friends for All Children
  • Holt Sahathai Foundation
  • Thai Red Cross Foundation
  • The Pattaya Orphanage

NOTE: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying Thailand as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or, 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. For more information, read about Transition Cases.

The Process

Because Thailand is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Thailand 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. Adoptions completed out of order may not confer immigration benefits on the adopted child (i.e. it is possible the child would not qualify for an immigrant visa if adopted out of order).

  1. Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
  2. Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child by authorities in Thailand
  4. Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
  5. Adopt or gain legal custody of child in Thailand
  6. Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

The first step in adopting a child from Thailand is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may provide adoption services between the United States and Thailand. The U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider will act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt

After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Thailand as part of your adoption dossier. Thailand’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Thai law.

3. Be Matched with a Child in Thailand

If both the United States and Thailand determine that you are eligible to adopt and the DSDW has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the DSDW in Thailand may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Thailand. The DSDW will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the DSDW in Thailand. Learn more about this critical decision.

4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption

After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.

After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Thailand. A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.

WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the Thai Central Authority (DSDW) in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Thailand where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Thai Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.

Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Thailand before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.

Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

5. Adopt (or Gain Legal Custody) of Child in Thailand

Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Thailand, 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 Thailand.

The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Thailand generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: The DSDW matches the child with the PAPs. Once DSDW is notified of their acceptance of the match, it forwards the application to the Child Adoption Board (CAB), part of the CAC. After receiving official authorization from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, which oversees the DSDW, the DSDW schedules an interview between the PAPs and CAB. (Note: If married, both PAPs must attend this interview.) DSDW also issues the documents necessary for the child’s travel.
  • Role of the Court: There is no Thai court component. Instead, PAPs may either sign a Memorandum of Agreement agreeing to fulfill the CAB’s and DSDW’s requirements to work with the accredited ASP to complete the six-month pre-adoption period, provide three required reports, and seek CAB’s approval prior to adopting the child in the country of residence or they may complete the six-month pre-adoption and reporting period in Thailand and, upon successful completion of that period, register the child with the appropriate local Thai District Office.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: The ASP assembles the application forms and supporting documents for submission to DSDW.
  • Time Frame: Recent reports indicate that waiting periods range from approximately 24 to 30 months from the time the U.S. ASP submits the PAPs’ paperwork to the DSDW to the time the child is placed with the PAPs for the six month pre-adoption placement period.
  • Adoption Application: PAPs and their ASPs must submit an adoption application to the DSDW.
  • Adoption Fees: 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 that the ASP must submit to DSDW on behalf of the PAPs, along with the adoption application: Home Study – The home study must be conducted or endorsed by one of the DSDW approved agencies. Any home study done by a non-DSDW approved agency must obtain an endorsement from a DSDW approved agency. The non-DSDW approved agency must agree to supervise the six-month pre-adoption (or post-placement) period. (To satisfy U.S. law, the home study must also be performed or supervised by a U.S. Hague accredited ASP.)
1. Confirmation Statement – The format of this document varies somewhat, but generally includes the ASP’s confirmation to supervise post-placement requirements.
2. Formal Commitment Statement – If the PAPs reside in Thailand, a DSDW social worker will supervise the pre-adoptive (or post-placement) period and conduct the three bi-monthly home visits. Once DSDW is satisfied with the pre-adoptive placement, DSDW will report its findings to the CAB, who will approve the child for adoption registration. PAPs must sign a Formal Commitment Statement acknowledging that they understand this process. If the PAPs do not reside in Thailand, the ASP must formally commit to supervising a pre-adoptive placement in the country of residence for at least six months, conducting at least three bi-monthly progress reports, and providing those reports to the DSDW. In cases in which the adoption will be finalized outside of Thailand, the DSDW will issue a Memoranda of Agreement, which the PAPs sign. When adoptions are finalized in Thailand, DSDW issues a shorter version of this memorandum, not signed by the parents.
3. Medical Certificate – The certificate verifies the PAPs’ good physical health, mental stability, and infertility (if applicable).
4. Birth Certificates
5. Marriage Certificate (if applicable)
6. Proof of Termination of Previous Marriages – Death Certificate of spouse or Divorce Decree.
7. Proof of Occupation and Income – For example, tax returns, letters from employers, and/or bank statements
8. Complete Financial Statement – The statement should indicate all assets and liabilities and may include tax returns, bank statements, and/or an explanatory letter from the PAPs.
9. Recommendations from Two Responsible Persons
10. Proof of ASP’s U.S. Hague Accreditation
11. Photographs of PAPs – Four (4.5 cm x 6 cm) photographs from each prospective adoptive parent and their children. NOTE: Additional documents may be requested.
  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications office may be able to assist. Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents.

6. Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Now that you have adopted or obtained legal custody of the child for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

1. Birth Certificate

If a Thai child does not already have a birth certificate when s/he is taken to live at an orphanage, officials at the orphanage will arrange for the issuance of a birth certificate with the local District Registration Office, either in the jurisdiction where the child was born, if known, or in the jurisdiction where the orphanage is located.

2. Thai Passport

An adopted child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so s/he will need a travel document (passport) in order to travel from Thailand. The orphanage will arrange for the issuance of this travel document with the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and present it to the adoptive family before the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok.

The passport costs 35 USD and processing takes two business days if picking up in person or five business days for delivery. Obtaining the passport is part of the overall services provided by the ASP.

3. U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. After and adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy in Bangkok for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, final approval of Form I-800, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. 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. Read more about the Medical Examination.


Adoptive parents are required to register their adoption with the nearest Thai Embassy or Consulate in their home country.

If prospective adoptive parents did not complete the six-month pre-adoption (post-placement) period in Thailand, then the U.S. Hague accredited ASP must submit to DSDW three bi-monthly reports detailing the child’s progress in adjusting to his or her new family and environment and his or her general welfare before the PAPs can finalize the adoption in U.S. state court.

We strongly urge you to comply with Thai post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country’s history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen parents.

To learn more about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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