This 4-step guide offers an overview of the international adoption process.
First Thing First - Are You and the Child Qualified?
Before we start, please understand what type of child can qualify for adoption? Orphan. Yes only if the child's both parents are lost OR if one surviving parent gives him/her up for adoption. The fact that the child is in orphanage could be a good indication. If the child is not an orphan or both of his parents are around, please stop right here as he would be unlikely considered as a good adoption candidate for the purpose of bring the child into the United States.
Now if you are adopting together with your spouse, one of you must be a United States citizen to qualify. You also need to have a clean record. Any brush with the law in the past may cause you be disqualified either by the US authority or the Pakistanis.
If by now you are still determined, we can discuss more.
Pre-approval At Home
The initial step is to petition US Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) to show your home is suitable for adoption and you have the financial means to do so. It takes 2-3 months to gain an approval. This is mainly done by showing a home study report prepared by a social worker and your tax documents. You will also be fingerprinted to allow a search of your background.
A family law attorney within your state can point you to the right social worker who could conduct the home study, so the report can be acceptable to both USCIS and your local family court.
On to Islamabad, Pakistan
Next, we will need to gain a Pakistan guardianship decree from a local court. This step will involve the assistance of a Pakistani family law attorney who will file a petition at the local family court. This step takes 3-6 months.
Once the guardianship decree is issued, that needs to be submitted again to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. You will also need the child's new birth certificate, Pakistani passport and medical examination report. This is where the embassy will send a field investigator to make sure the child is really an orphan. The Embassy will again request your updated financial information. Once everything is set, it will notify you to come to Pakistan, take the child and to have an immigration visa stamp to be attached to his passport.
Once your adopted child enters the U.S., you will need to complete your state's requirement on adoption. So when his new birth certificate shows your name as parents, you can be assured that he is now automatically a U.S. citizen.
Adoption vs. Guardianship & The Lineup
Pakistan law does not allow adoption but permits guardianship. In other countries where adoption is permissible, you should obtain adoption decree, in which case, your state adoption process may be skipped.
Finally, let's summarize again who is in the line up to assist you:
a. Immigration attorney - Quarter back
b. Family law attorney in your state - Full Back
c. Family law attorney in Pakistan - Tackle
d. Social Worker in your state - Tight End.
Additional resources provided by the author
1. The U.S. Department of State has a country-specific page on intercountry adoption. click this link: