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Written by Nancy S
on May 03, 2017


Some of the terms in international (inter-country) adoption can be confusing. Know what is required by the country you are adopting from and the US government agencies involved in international adoption will require you to understand these specific terms. Here is a list of some of the most common terms in international adoption and their meaning. We hope this will help you understand the international adoption process better. If you have any questions about adoption we are here to help. Family Connections, Inc. is a New York state authorized adoption agency who has achieved Hague Accreditation and with over twenty years of experience in adoption we would be glad to help you better understand your adoption choices.  You can contact us by clicking below to request a free, personal, no-obligation adoption consultation to explore your adoption options or at 607-756-6574.


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International Adoption Terminology:

  • Hague Adoption Convention: The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (or Hague Adoption Convention) is an international convention that sets the framework for adoption of children between countries.  It is intended to help protect children from the corruption, abuses and exploitation. The Convention strengthens protections for children, birthparents, and prospective adoptive parent(s) and establishes internationally agreed upon rules and procedures for adoption between countries that have a treaty relationship under the Convention (Convention countries).  The Convention provides a framework for Convention countries to work collaboratively to ensure that children are provided with permanent, loving homes, that adoptions take place in the best interests of a child, and that the abduction, sale, or trafficking children is prevented. 
  • Home Study:  Your home study must meet the requirements of your state of residence, the Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS), and the country from which you are adopting.  In New York State, the Citizenship and Immigration Service requires a home study to be completed by an authorized adoption agency.  
  • Notarization: To obtain a notary seal or stamp, you must sign your document in the presence of a Notary Public.  If a signature of a person other than yourself is required on a specific document, such as the Physician’s signature on a medical report, then this person’s signature must be notarized.  You may have to bring a notary to a busy professional, (a doctor, your boss, some medical offices may have a notary and can notarize the document for you.) Please make sure the notary is correct for the international country.  Notaries are found in many large office buildings, government offices, legal offices, and most banks.  Usually banks offer the service free of charge.  The County Clerk’s office in any New York county will notarize a document free of charge. 
  • Certification of a Document: In New York State, the County Seal (a raised seal) authenticates the notary signature.  This is called a notary certification.  Take or send the notarized document to the County Clerk in the county where the notary is qualified.  The certification will cost $3.00 per document in New York.  Please ensure that the county certification does not contain cross outs or white outs.
  • Apostille or Great Seal: This refers to the authentication of a signature on a document by the State Department of the state in which the document originated. This is required for acceptance of notarized documents internationally.  There are two New York State seals, the Apostille or the Great Seal. Your dossier instructions from your primary provider (international adoption placement agency) will tell you which seal you need.  Different countries require different seals.  Your documents need to be taken in person or mailed to the Secretary of State in Albany, New York to obtain the needed seal.  This seal authenticates the county seal (certification). 
  • Dossier: Your dossier is a collection of documents that constitute your application for adoption to the country from which you are adopting.  A dossier is required for most international adoptions.  Your primary provider (international adoption placement agency) will provide you with a list of dossier documents required by the country from which you are adopting.  Every foreign country has its own document requirements; there is no standard dossier document list. Your dossier is in addition to all the forms and requirements of your home study. The home study report is one document in the dossier.  However, many of the documents in the dossier are similar to the documents required by the home study. Some countries have very specific time limits on authenticated documents so be sure to check with your primary provider (international adoption placement agency) as to what the requirements are.
  • USCIS:United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is a component of the United States Department of Homeland Security.  This is the government entity that you will submit your I800A/I800 or I600A/I600 to for approval to adopt from an international country.
  • I800A or I600A:  You are required to file a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service for pre-approval as an adoptive parent. 
    • I800A - If you intend to adopt a child who is a resident of a Convention country you must file an “Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country” (Form I-800A).   
    • I600A - If you intend to adopt a child from a country other than a Convention country, you must file an “Application for Advance Process of Orphan Petition” (Form I-600A). 
    • Supporting Documents - You must file your I-800A or I-600A with the required supporting documents (including home study report) to Citizenship and Immigration Services for processing.
    • Approval - Once your I-800A or I-600A is complete and Citizenship and Immigration Services Office approves your application for pre-approval for international adoption, you will receive the “Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition”.  This approval provides you will permission to adopt a foreign born orphan and immigrate the child to the United States.  You need the USCIS approval for all international adoptions.  Most primary providers (international adoption placement agencies) and countries require a USCIS approval to be submitted with the dossier (foreign adoption application).  
  • I-800 or I-600
    • Once the adoption of your child is completed in the foreign country, you must file the I800 “Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative" or
    • or the I600 “Petition to Classify an Orphan as Immediate Relative” (form number I-600) with Citizenship and Immigration Services to ensure proper immigration and citizenship for your child.  Your primary provider (international adoption placement agency) should assist you with this submission. Your I-800 and I-600 is usually submitted at the United States consulate in the country where the child is located. 
  • VISA: When it is time to travel to adopt your child you will need to obtain travel visas for each person who is traveling.   The visa will allow you to travel to your child’s country of origin for a per-determined amount of time.  You cannot obtain a visa until you have specific travel dates for your trip.  You will apply for a visa at your child’s country’s consulate in the United States.  The cost and the length of time to receive a visa varies depending upon the country’s consulate.  Your primary provider (international adoption placement agency) or your international travel agent should facilitate your visa application. 
    • If your child comes home with an IR3 visa they will automatically have US citizenship upon entering the United States.
    • If your child comes home with an IR4 visa you will need to finalize the adoption in the United States courts for the child to have US citizenship.
  • Placement:The child is placed in the home of the prospective adoptive parents with the intention of adoption, this is the period of time before the adoption is finalized.
    • If you child comes home with an IR3 visa they will automatically have US citizenship upon entering the United States.
    • If they come home with an IR4 visa you will need to finalize the adoption in the United States courts for the child to have US citizenship.
  • Post Placement: The period of time after placement of the child in the home of the prospective adoptive parents before the adoption has been finalized.  During this time there may be post placement supervision reports required until the time that the adoption has been finalized.
  • Post Adoption:The period of time after an adoption is finalized in a convention country and then is followed by re-adoption in the United States (if required).  Some countries require post adoption supervision reports after the adoption, these requirements are regulated by the laws of the country from which you are adopting.


If you are ready to build your family through adoption, we at Family Connections, Inc. would be glad to help you explore your adoption options.  Family Connections, Inc. is an authorized New York State adoption agency that has achieved Hague Accreditation from the Council on Accreditation.  Family Connections can conduct your inter-country/international or domestic home study anywhere in New York State.  With over twenty years of experience with adoption, a consultation with Family Connections Inc. could save you hours of frustrating research.  


You can contact Anita or Dan at 607-756-6574 or 1-800-535-5556 or info@adoptfamilyconnections.org.





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