Thursday, December 22, 2016

Michael Steele Talks about His Adoption Story

Who doesn't need an inspiring adoption story during this time of year? We just listened to The Ax Files Podcast of Michael Steele talking about his adoption.

Michael Steele is an American politician who served as the first African-American chairperson of the Republican National Committee. If you read Steele's Biography, you will see many of his accomplishments.  Although he has a tremendous resume, it wasn't smooth sailing for him to get there.

Michael Steele's biological mother got pregnant with him back in the 50's while she was attending a Catholic University. She was on her way to "deal" with her pregnancy when she came across a nun that ended up changing her mind and instead, helped her to make an adoption plan.

On  another side of the adoption triad, we have Mr. Steele's adoptive mother.  She and her husband wanted to have childen, but they were told they were infertile.  Mrs. Steele said this is when she knew that there was something bigger and greater than herself. When she first saw Michael in his crib, he reached out for her and she knew that he belonged to her. She felt that by providing a home for a child who needed stability, her purpose in life was being fulfilled.

Just because Steele was adopted and grew up to have a successful career doesn't mean that he didn't face challenges.  His adoptive father reportedly had an alcohol problem and multiple girlfriends. However, Mr. Steele always tried to do his best for Michael. Due to his alcoholism, Mr. Steele's father passed away at the age of 36.

After his father died, it was just Mr. Steele and his mother for a few years before she re-married. This was a difficult time while Mrs. Steele raised him without government assistance. This was also the point when Mr. Steele first found out he was adopted. He said initially, he was heart-broken.  However, he quickly realized that his adoptive mother was truly his mother and that comforted him.  At the same time, he is grateful for the choice that his birth mother made to place him for adoption.

Adoption is a wonderful way that many people have built their families, children have found permanent homes, and expectant parents have been able to make choices that provide good lives to their children. It is our privilege to assist expectant parents, adoptive parents and children in their adoption journeys. We are thankful for that privilege and the opportunity to serve all parties in the adoption community.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Drafted by Brittany Alness, staff member of the Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC.
Disclaimer
This blog and the information contained within have been prepared by Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to create, nor does receipt of it constitute an attorney-client relationship. Viewers should not act upon information found here without seeking legal counsel. All photographs shown on this blog are depictions of clients and are not actual clients of this law firm. Copyright Karen S. Law, 2016










Monday, December 12, 2016

December 23, 2016, new fees will go into effect for USCIS form

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Good News for Thanksgiving--2017 Tax Credit

As the Holidays are fast approaching, we have some great news to share with you.  The IRS just released the 2017 Adoption Tax Credit amount and it's up from last year.  Creating a Family has a good overview:

Straight from the Creating A Family Website:
Image result for thanksgiving

"2017 Adoption Tax Credit-Non Special Needs Adoptions

The amount allowed in 2017 for the Adoption Tax Credit for non special-needs adoptions, both domestic and international, is $13,570 for “qualified adoption expenses”. The definition of what IRS considers a qualified adoption expense has not changed, and families must be able to document these expenses, if requested by the IRS. This amount is up slightly from 2016 ($13,460).
The 2017 Adoption Tax Credit begins to phase out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) more than $203,540 and completely phased out for taxpayers with MAGI of $243,540 or more.

Image result for thanksgiving2017 Adoption Tax Credit-Special Needs Adoptions

Families who adopt a child with special needs from US foster care are eligible to claim the Federal Adoption Tax Credit in 2017 of $13,570 whether or not they actually incurred any adoption expenses. A child is considered to have “special needs” if they receive an adoption assistance/subsidy benefits from the state.
Children adopted internationally, even if they have diagnosed special needs, are not considered as a “special needs adoption” by the IRS and parents can only claim the credit for qualified adoption expenses."

We hope everyone one has a Happy Thanksgiving and encourage you to look out for our next blog post.


Drafted by Brittany Alness, staff member of the Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC.
Disclaimer
This blog and the information contained within have been prepared by Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to create, nor does receipt of it constitute an attorney-client relationship. Viewers should not act upon information found here without seeking legal counsel. All photographs shown on this blog are depictions of clients and are not actual clients of this law firm. Copyright Karen S. Law, 2016

Monday, October 31, 2016

How to Locate a Reputable Domestic Adoption Agency

There are so many options that go into adopting a child; how can you know which direction is the best for you?  You want to start by making sure you do your research and you know what you are looking for or it can be overwhelming.

When you adopt domestically, you will always need to work with an adoption agency.  The adoption agency will conduct your home-study.  They must be licensed in your state and the home-study must comply with your state standards. Should you choose to adopt privately, often called a direct parental placement, you will locate the birth mother directly.  That connection is usually made through word of mouth. From there, both you and the expectant parent will have legal representation and the expectant parent will receive counseling. A direct parental placement is usually more open between the parties and less expensive.

The other option is for an adoption agency to locate the expectant parent.  This could be the agency which conducted your home-study or it could be a different agency, termed the placing agency.  The selection of a placing agency is where many people get into trouble.

It is critically important to select a reputable state licensed, COA accredited agency as your placing agency. Anyone can open up shop and make up a cute adoption friendly sounding name.  But, often it is difficult to distinguish between a state-licensed and COA accredited agency versus an agency that does not offer you all those protections.  This article published in the National Council for Adoption periodical by myself and my co-author Teresa M. McDonough, ACSW, will give you that critical information.  You can find the whole article at the link below.

From Adoption Advocate NO. 70:

"Today, many expectant parents considering adoption connect with prospective adoptive parents through out-of-state entities—or facilitators—that they find online. Too often, these entities are unlicensed and unregulated intermediaries; they act as matchmakers only, not full-service agencies. The expectant parents receive no face-to-face counseling, and may not be apprised of the laws in their state or the state where the prospective adoptive parents reside. When the child is born, there is often a scramble to locate an adoption attorney or licensed adoption agency representative who can then meet with the expectant parent(s) for the first time and begin the counseling and legal processes; these vital services must be outsourced, because the independent facilitator is not licensed in their state and is therefore legally unable to provide these services. There can also be confusion as to which state’s laws apply, because many states prohibit fees paid to unlicensed entities, meaning that adoptions arranged by facilitators cannot be finalized. Sometimes the placement does not go through, and both prospective adoptive parents and expectant parents can experience heartache and financial loss with no follow-up support services. Even when placements do succeed and are finalized, the lack of post-adoption support services can undermine the likelihood of adoptive family success as well as the birth parent’s long-term well-being.

A facilitator is typically a person or an organization whose only task is to make an introduction between expectant parents and adoptive parents in exchange for a large, nonrefundable fee paid in advance. In some states, these facilitators are regulated, but in most states, they are prohibited. Expectant parents considering adoption as well as prospective adoptive parents should exercise great caution, as it can be difficult to determine whether an entity is licensed as an adoption agency or acting solely as a facilitator.

Some facilitators use terms that imply they are offering legal services, when in fact they are acting only as facilitators. A facilitator might even be a “licensed agency” in the state where their office is located. However, if they work with expectant parents and adoptive parents nationwide, they can then claim to act as a facilitator in all other states. This language is deliberately misleading and confusing for people seeking to make an adoption plan or adopt children. In addition, most facilitators are for-profit entities."

Recommendations Given the Increasing Use of Facilitators from the Adoption Advocate NO. 70:

"Better enforcement of existing laws:

If a state such as California permits facilitators to operate, we would suggest strict enforcement of licensing and training requirements as well as advertising disclosure restrictions. If the state prohibits facilitators from operating, especially if this is accomplished through close monitoring of fees paid, more rigorous enforcement by the state Attorneys General and stricter oversight by ICPC offices would significantly limit the activities of facilitators in those states.

Advertising disclosure laws:

We recommend both state and federal laws mandating that print and Internet advertising by facilitators disclose both the state(s) where the entity is located and whether they are licensed to operate in the state where the advertising appears. This would give prospective adoptive parents and expectant parents more information to decide whether to work with a particular entity. It would also ensure that individual state standards are met.

Research and due diligence on the part of adoptive parents:

Prospective adoptive parents should check with state licensing to determine whether an agency or entity is a licensed child-placing agency. If it is an out-of-state entity, the adoptive parents should check with state licensing where the entity is located, and be certain that it has the ability to provide or arrange for all the services necessary for an ethical and successful adoption. Some adoptive parents will still choose to work with facilitators to expand their search for an expectant mother, but they must be aware of the risks and benefits involved.

Full compliance with the ICPC:

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) aims to safeguard children placed for adoption across state lines, with requirements for sending agencies and the receiving state’s ICPC office administrator. Children can only be placed across state lines after the receiving state has determined that it does not violate their best interests. Prospective parents adopting a child from another state must ensure that their agency is capable of meeting and fully complying with all ICPC requirements.

Expectant parents must know their rights:

Expectant parents should be aware that they will typically receive a higher level of service from an agency that has a physical presence in their state. Local agencies can provide in-person, ongoing options counseling from a social worker with knowledge of resources in the community, and can also ensure that the expectant parents’ emotional, legal, and medical needs are met before they are called upon to select adoptive parents or make an adoption plan. Expectant parents may also be more likely to receive the information agreed upon about the child after the placement if an agency is used, and will know who to turn to if they need post-placement counseling. If expectant parents choose to work with a facilitator instead, they should request a higher level of service and expect in-person counseling by a licensed child-placing agency working with the facilitator. They should have the opportunity to meet with an attorney in their state well in advance of their child’s birth and understand the laws in their state as well as the laws in the state where the adoptive parents reside. They should also have the opportunity to meet potential adoptive families before they select a family to parent their child.

Improved oversight of adoption fees:

State laws should require full disclosure of all fees paid by an adoptive family for an adoption placement. There should be full oversight of these fees mandated by the state Attorney General’s Office. State laws for limits on fees should also be enforced, and states with no limits should review their laws."
Read the full article about the Role of Facilitators in Adoption at the National Council for Adoption website

We hope that this blog has been informative, and you are now able to start your research for representation with a better idea of how to start and what to look for.

Drafted by Karen S. Law and  Brittany Alness, staff member of the Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC.
Disclaimer
This blog and the information contained within have been prepared by Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to create, nor does receipt of it constitute an attorney-client relationship. Viewers should not act upon information found here without seeking legal counsel. All photographs shown on this blog are depictions of clients and are not actual clients of this law firm. Copyright Karen S. Law, 2016







Monday, August 1, 2016

Can a lawful permanent resident married to a U.S. citizen adopt from a Hague Country without using the Hague process?




At least one opinion says that in that situation, the lawful permanent resident has the choice
of using the Form I-130 process or using the Hague process:







Monday, July 18, 2016

Changes in Nicaragua's Adoption Process

***This is taken directly from the Department of State Website, below the link is provided for you***



"Alert: Changes in Nicaragua's Adoption Process

The Department of State recently met with the Government of Nicaragua.  Officials from the Nicaraguan government reported that no irregularities were found following their investigation of allegations about Nicaragua’s intercountry adoption process. 
Nicaraguan officials also announced changes to Nicaragua’s intercountry adoption process. Under Nicaraguan law a child is not eligible for intercountry adoption until a Nicaraguan court issues an abandonment decree. Nicaragua has in the past matched foreign prospective adoptive parents with children who had not yet received an abandonment decree, and allowed such prospective adoptive parents to foster children while the abandonment decree was pending. From now on, Nicaragua will no longer allow foreign prospective adoptive parents to foster children before a abandonment decree has been issued.   
Prospective adoptive families should continue to work with their adoption service providers and local attorneys, and continue to monitorwww.travel.state.gov for updated information on adoption in Nicaragua."

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Adopting an older child Part 2

One of our clients, "Mark”, graciously took the time to talk to us and tell us about his and his wife's journey of fostering and adopting older children.  Over the span of 30 years, this inspiring couple has adopted five older children.  I asked, "How did you get involved with becoming foster parents"? As newlyweds, Mark and his wife became aware of foster care children that attended their church. They came to know these children individually.  They saw that so many children are waiting in the foster care system to be adopted, so they decided that that was how they were going to grow their family.

Image result for teenagers and parentsMark expressed that it's hard when children have had several transitions throughout their childhood.  Going from home to home and family to family is traumatizing.  Ultimately, when fostering a child, you want to limit their transitions.  People may think it's more difficult to parent an older child, but the reality is that parenting, in general, is hard.  You have to be willing to learn, to not hold rigid expectations and to overall be open to helping your child adjust to his unique challenges.  Every child comes with a back story of how he got into foster care. He's been hurt, he is dealing with emotions, and he might not trust adults because of his past.

However, at the end of the day, assisting a child with these challenges can be very rewarding. Mark talked about how exciting it was to see the change in emotions and to watch the child grow and overcome his personal battles.  As he overcomes his struggles, he starts to thrive.  His individual skills and talents start to come out and the rest of the world gets to see how special he is.  He might have had a rough start but he now has healthy thriving relationships. Our client believes that, "Every child deserves to be cherished and to have a family that loves them".


Is this type of parenting something you would consider?  You can begin to explore foster care parenting through your local Department of Family Services.  Additionally, many private agencies have "waiting child" programs, where children who are in the foster care system are matched with pre-screened families.  You might attend an information session to learn more from either the local Department of Family Services or the private adoption agency.  Some of my biggest heroes in the adoption community are the foster care parents that I have assisted.  There are people like Mark and his family who love children and are willing to invest in their lives.

Drafted by Brittany Alness, staff member of the Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC.
Disclaimer
This blog and the information contained within have been prepared by Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to create, nor does receipt of it constitute an attorney-client relationship. Viewers should not act upon information found here without seeking legal counsel. All photographs shown on this blog are depictions of clients and are not actual clients of this law firm. Copyright Karen S. Law, 2016



Monday, June 20, 2016

Adopting an older child

Although many people feel best equipped to parent a newborn, adding an older child to your family can be a source of great joy. A recent article written by Dawn Davenport featured on the site Creating a Family, describes a few of the many benefits of adopting an older child.

Image result for teenagers and parentsAs a potential family for an older adopted, an important aspect is understanding your child's prior life. When kids reach the age of about 8-10 years, they are able to communicate their life story.  This helps you have a better understanding of what they have gone through. Being able to communicate also helps out in counseling because they can be fully involved in the sessions. It's also easier for them to do things your family enjoys- At an older age children are discovering what they like and dislike. Your child may not like everything you like, but there will be something you can find that you can both do together. Older children are more self- sufficient and are able to do things on their own.  They can get themselves ready in the morning and at night. They, of course, will still need you there for them but they are a little more independent.  You can have "real" conversations with your child.  They will have a greater understanding of what is happening in their lives and the ability to articulate that. an older child has more formed thoughts and opinions and it can be such an exciting thing to share with each other.  They can also express how they are feeling so you can help them work through past trauma.

We are grateful that Christi Carmouze, a social worker from the Loudoun County Foster Care and Adoption Department of Family Services, took the time to let us interview her. Christi's specific responsibilities are to educate potential individuals in what foster care is and what the agency does. She expresses that the ultimate goal/mission may be to return the child back to their biological family,  if that can be accomplished safely.  But, that if it cannot, the foster parent may ultimately be found to be the best resource for the child in terms of adoption. She was very open about what takes place and what is expected of the foster parents while fostering a child and what happens if the foster parents end up adopting the child.

Image result for teenagers and parentsChristi talked with us concerning what's involved when a foster parent completes the training and the rigorous home study process.  A foster family gets placed onto the DFS roster, then, once a child needs home, families on the roster is reviewed to see if they could provide that home. The family is then contacted and is told the information about the child. They then have a quick time period to talk it over with the rest of the household and to make a decision if this is a child they will be able to provide care for.  After the decision has been made, the child is typically placed in the home that same day or the next day. There are some situations; however, where it could be a few weeks until the child enters the foster home.

Heather Crittenden also spoke with us.  She is from the Loudoun County Foster Care and Adoption Department of Family Services, and serves as the Adoption Assistance Worker and the ICPC worker.  She also manages adoption cases in the agency and does interstate compact placements, where a child is moved from a different state into Loudoun County.  We asked her about the biggest changes once the foster care parents become the adoptive parents.  She expressed that the agency is no longer responsible, they can be there for support but everything is now on the new parents.  When adopting an older child, the child gets a say once they are 14 years of age on if they want to be adopted by a specific family which could be difficult if the biological family is still involved.  A family must be open to waiting for the older child to make their decision and be open to having the biological family involved if they are still around and if that's what the child would like.


There are still "firsts" to be had with an older child, not everything happens when a child is a baby. We asked Heather what’s one of the most important things we can pass on to all of you; "No Story is the same; each child has a different story and a different opportunity.  If you are willing to commit and take the journey the reward is far more rewarding than you could imagine".



Drafted by Brittany Alness, staff member of the Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC.
Disclaimer

This blog and the information contained within have been prepared by Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to create, nor does receipt of it constitute an attorney-client relationship. Viewers should not act upon information found here without seeking legal counsel. All photographs shown on this blog are depictions of clients and are not actual clients of this law firm. Copyright Karen S. Law, 2016




Thursday, June 16, 2016

CIS Filing Fee Increase for N-600 Unfairly Hurts International Adoption Community

In early May, USCIS, (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), proposed to raise the majority of its filing fees. This is a big problem for parents of international adopted children:

USCIS Filing Fee Increase and the Impact on Adoptive Parents
                                                       
                                                               Current Fee     Proposed Fee    Increase
                                                                                                                                   
1. Orphan Cases                                      $720                       $775               8%
I600A/I600                                                                                                                
2. Hague Cases                                         $720                      $775                8%
I800A/I800                                                                                                                
3. Adoptive Child Overseas                      $420                      $535                27%
I-130                                                                                                              
4. Adoptive Child residing in the US        $1,405                   $1,675             19%
I-130/I485                                                                                                                              
5. Citizenship Application                         $600                      $1,170             95%
N-600/N600K                                                                                                                        
6. Replacement Certificate of Citizenship $345                      $555                61%
N-565

While USCIS is a fee based agency and an increase in some of its fees may be warranted, the percentage increase for the forms that most affect international adoptive parents, the N-600 and N-600K, is disproportionately high. The increase is almost 95%, which is an unfair burden on these adoptive parents. Intercountry adoption processes are already long and emotionally challenging.  Adding to the costs would serve as a possible deterrent to prospective parents and an impediment to needy children finding a permanent family. 

Further, many families who did not complete their adoptions overseas, subsequently have completed the re-adoption or finalization process in the U.S. prior to the child's 18th birthday.  This means that their children became U.S. citizens under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.  However, they do not have proof of their child's status because they never filed for a Certificate of Citizenship, using the Form N-600.  So, the filing fee increase not only will negatively impact future adoptions, but it unfairly impacts children who are already U.S. citizens but whose parents have just never filed the appropriate form.

For those families, I urge them to file the  N-600 for their adopted child now before the increase becomes effective. Also, I encourage the adoption community as a whole to express its opinion about this increase as USCIS is allowing public comments about the fee increase until July 5, 2016.

 Send your comments here: 
You may submit comments, identified by DHS Docket No. USCIS-
2016-0001, by one of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow this site's instructions for submitting comments.
     Email: You may email comments directly to USCIS at 
uscisfrcomment@dhs.gov. Include DHS Docket No. USCIS-2016-0001 in the 
Subject line of the message.
     Mail: You may submit comments directly to USCIS by mailing 
them to Samantha Deshommes, Acting Chief, Regulatory Coordination 
Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and 
Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 20 Massachusetts 
Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529-2020. To ensure proper handling, 
please reference DHS Docket No. USCIS-2016-0001 on your correspondence. 
This mailing address may be used for paper or CD-ROM submissions.
     Hand Delivery/Courier: You may submit comments directly to 
USCIS by having them delivered to Samantha Deshommes, Acting Chief, 
Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. 
Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 
20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529-2020. The contact 
telephone number is (202) 272-8377.

Hopefully, if enough people express their dissatisfaction with the filing fee increase for the N-600, USCIS might consider a smaller filing fee increase or no increase at all.
Drafted by Karen S. Law, Esquire with assistance from intern Amanda Wong
Disclaimer
This blog and the information contained within have been prepared by Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to create, nor does receipt of it constitute an attorney-client relationship. Viewers should not act upon information found here without seeking legal counsel. All photographs shown on this blog are depictions of clients and are not actual clients of this law firm. Copyright Karen S. Law, 2016



Saturday, April 16, 2016

SIJS Alert: May 1 Deadline to file for Green Card for Unaccompanied Kids from El Salvador, Guatemala,Honduras

USCIS has just released the following announcement.  The best course of action is to file for the child's green card before May 1.  Please see your immigration attorney right away if you have a pending case of SIJS:

Employment-Based Fourth Preference (EB-4) Visa Limits Reached for Special Immigrants From El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for May 2016 reflects a final action date  of January 1, 2010, for EB-4 visas for special immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. This means that starting in May, applicants from these countries who filed Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant on or after January 1, 2010, will not be able to obtain an immigrant visa or adjust status until new visas become available.

These three countries have reached their EB-4 visa limits as congressionally mandated for fiscal year 2016, which ends September 30. Information on EB-4 visa availability for fiscal year 2017 for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras will appear in the Department of State’s October Visa Bulletin, which will be published this September.

EB-4 visas are for special immigrants. These are individuals who may be eligible for lawful permanent resident status based on specific classifications, including Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ).

What this action means to EB-4 applicants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras:

Petitioners from any country, including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, may continue to file Form I-360. There is no annual limit on the number of Form I‑360 petitions that USCIS may approve.

The final action date is January 1, 2010. This final action date became effective upon publication of the May Visa Bulletin on April 12.

USCIS will accept all properly filed submissions of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, under the EB-4 classification until April 30, 2016.

We will process and make a decision on your Form I-485 application only if you have a Form I-360 filed before January 1, 2010, that is ultimately approved.
If you have a pending Form I-360 filed on or after January 1, 2010, we will process and make a decision on your Form I-360 but withhold a decision to approve your Form I-485 application pending availability of an EB-4 visa.
If you file Form I-485 under the EB-4 classification after April 30, 2016:

We will process and make a decision on your Form I-485 only if you filed your Form I-360 petition before January 1, 2010, and your Form I-360 is ultimately approved.
We will reject and return other Form I-485 applications but will continue to process Form I-360 petitions (even if submitted together with a Form I-485 that gets rejected).

https://www.uscis.gov/news/employment-based-fourth-preference-eb-4-visa-limits-reached-special-immigrants-el-salvador-guatemala-and-honduras

r
Drafted by Karen S. Law
Disclaimer
This blog and the information contained within have been prepared by Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to create, nor does receipt of it constitute an attorney-client relationship. Viewers should not act upon information found here without seeking legal counsel. All photographs shown on this blog are depictions of clients and are not actual clients of this law firm. Copyright Karen S. Law, 2016



Monday, February 22, 2016

Adopting from Nigeria

I have been assisting several families adopting from Nigeria over the years. ows the process to adopt from this country.  Here is a brief overview of the process.

There is always the question of who can adopt? You not only have to meet the requirements of the U.S. Immigration but you also have to meet the requirements of Nigeria.The Nigerian process varies by the Nigerian state in question.  Most states require that the adoptive parents be Nigerian citizens or of Nigerian descent. In certain states you have to at least be 25 years old and 21 years older than the child.  There is a mandatory foster care period where the adoptive parents care for the child prior to the adoption being finalized in Nigeria.






































The entire process is handled through the state Ministry of Women's Affairs. The Ministry of Women's Affairs is essential to the adoption.  They make the determination that adoption is in the child's best interests, match the child with the adoptive parents, and visit the child and the parents during the foster care period where the child is cared for by the adoptive parent in country.


Additionally, the U.S. couple of Nigerian descent must locate a primary provider in the U.S. to perform the home-study and the other adoption services that are not performed by the state Ministry of Women's Affairs. The U.S. couple files the I 600A in the U.S and undergoes screening to ensure that they are suitable to adopt.  After the I600A is approved, the file is sent through the National Visa Center to the U.S. Embassy in Lagos.  The family files the I-600 at the Embassy.  From there, there is a mandatory investigation (up to 12 months), to determine if the child is truly an orphan according to U.S. immigration law.  If the I-600 is approved, the next step is the visa application, medical exam, and visa approval. The family must also obtain a Nigerian passport for the child.

Nigeria has special requirements in addition to the U.S. immigration requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption.

Relinquishment:  If children are allegedly relinquished by their parents and they are still living they will be investigated.  The U.S. Consulate has found Nigerian parents will relinquish their children to a relative over in the United States so they can have the ability to immigrate to the U.S.

Abandonment: In Nigeria, abandonment is poorly documented so it may require a full investigation to confirm abandonment.

Age of Adoptive Child: The Adoption Act of 1965 says the child must be below the age of 16 or 17 according to the Child Rights Law in order to be adopted.  U.S. law requires a child to be under the age of 16 at the time the I600A or I600 petition is filed unless the child is a natural sibling of a child that was already adopted by the same parents while under the age of 18.

Sibling Adoptions:  In Nigeria, there are no specific guidelines regarding adopting siblings.

Special Needs or Medical Conditions:  Nigeria will generally specify any special needs or address the general health of the child to be adopted.  The U.S. home study should match any specifications of special needs that are observed by the Nigerian court.





For more information, including alerts and notices concerning Nigerian adoptions:
http://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/country-information/learn-about-a-country/nigeria.html

For general information on intercountry adoption, https://www.uscis.gov/adoption 
http://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en.html


Drafted by Brittany Alness, staff member of the Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC.
Disclaimer
This blog and the information contained within have been prepared by Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to create, nor does receipt of it constitute an attorney-client relationship. Viewers should not act upon information found here without seeking legal counsel. All photographs shown on this blog are depictions of clients and are not actual clients of this law firm. Copyright Karen S. Law, 2016