Intercountry Adoption Law and Legal Definition

Intercountry adoption or international adoption is a type of adoption in which an individual or couple becomes the legal and permanent parents of a child that is a national of a different country. In general, prospective adoptive parents must meet the legal adoption requirements of their country of residence and those of the country whose nationality the child holds.

Adoption policies for each country vary widely. Items such as the age of the adoptive parents, financial status, educational level, marital status and history, number of dependent children in the house, sexual orientation, weight, psychological health, and ancestry are used by different countries to determine what parents are eligible to adopt from that country.

Items such as the age of the child, fees and expenses, and the amount of travel time required in the child's birth country, can also vary widely from one country to another. Each country sets its own rules, timelines and requirements surrounding adoption, and there are also rules that vary within the United States for each state.

The following is an example of a state statute defining the term:

" "Intercountry adoption" means the adoption of a foreign-born child for whom federal law makes a special immigration visa available. Intercountry adoption includes completion of the adoption in the child's native country or completion of the adoption in this state.” [Cal Fam Code § 8527]