How to Bring Adopted Children to The US
Adoption of foreign children can be accomplished via different ways. It can be in the form of local adoption, under the laws of the foreign country without the use of US immigration forms or it can be done through the channels of international adoption.
International adoption in its turn can be done pursuant to the Hague convention, or without it. It might be that one finalized adoption in the foreign country or will do so in the US.
If the adoption took place with the filing of immigration forms, then it is likely the parents already know how to bring the child into the US and what the next steps would be because the international adoption incorporates immigration steps. However, if the adoption was performed without the immigration forms, it means it was completed under the local laws of the foreign country. In this case, US parents will have to file an immediate relative petition for the child, form I 130 first.
Once the form is approved, then the child will need to apply for an immigrant visa at US consulate in the foreign country. Sometimes, to avoid waiting times and separation, a US parent can apply for a humanitarian parole for the child in the foreign country. The parole will help the child to come to the US and apply for adjustment of status in the US, rather than stay abroad during the immigration process.
Adoption Non-Citizen Children Already in The US
Often, however, US citizens would like to adopt non-citizen children who are already in the US; or at least to help them to stay in the US and provide for them. For example, the children came to visit their grandparents, or uncle and aunts and it became apparent that in their home country the parents are unable or unwilling to care for them. In such cases, US citizens or permanent residents or any relative, regardless of their immigration status, may help to get for such children a green card even without a formal adoption.
If an adult from the US receives an order from a family court judge granting him/her custody or appointing him as a guardian, than a child can apply for special juvenile status with USCIS (as long as child has not reached the age of 21 at the time of the submission of immigration petition). Such a family court order has to contain special information or findings and it serves as basis for future immigration status for the child. The child however, will never be able to sponsor his/her natural parents into the US.
It should be noted that recently, USCIS expanded the definition of “mother” and “parent” to include gestational mothers using assisted reproductive technology regardless of whether they are the genetic mothers.
Whatever the situation is, it is important that the US adults who would like to care for foreign born children consult with an attorney early in the process to make sure that the child would also receive proper immigration status.