International Kinship AdoptionQ: I want to adopt my cousin’s baby from abroad because she is single and very poor. The baby will have a better life with us here in the US. How do we do this?

A: According to Robin E. Sizemore, so many families have the very best of intentions for supporting the children in their extended family. It is the very loving and generous nature of such families that often come to us with similar requests, “to give the child a better life”. Children that are adopted to US citizens must meet the definition of “orphan” per USCIS to be considered eligible for a US visa as your child. While the court in most countries will process an adoption without regard to the child’s legal status, the US has very strict criteria in which they determine if the child is eligible. Poverty and marital status will not qualify the child as an ‘orphan’. The following criteria is used in non-convention countries to determine the child’s orphan status:

To qualify as an orphan under the Immigration Naturalization Act, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law. In addition to other applicable requirements, all of the following must be true for a child to be eligible for the orphan classification:

  • The child must be under the age of 16 at the time the Form I-600 petition is filed on his or her behalf, or be under the age of 18 and a sibling of a child (under the age of 16) who has been or will be adopted (by the same adoptive parents);
  • The child must either have no parents because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents; or have a sole or surviving parent who is incapable of providing proper care for the child and has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption;
  • The adopting parents must have completed a final adoption in the child’s country of origin or obtained legal custody of the child for purposes of emigration and adoption in the United States; and
  • The child has been or will be adopted by a married U.S. citizen and spouse jointly, or by an unmarried U.S. citizen at least 25 years of age, with the intent of forming a bona fide parent/child relationship.

Robin E. Sizemore is an Exec. Director of Hopscotch Adoptions, an international adoption agency with an active kinship adoption program.

For more information on this topic, listen to the Creating a Family radio show: Special Challenges of Kinship Adoption and visit our blog: 8 Crucial Tips For Kinship Adoption.

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