Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

How do international adoptions differ from domestic adoptions?

One of the most joyous times in the lives of many Salt Lake City residents is the arrival of a new child. While this arrival is often celebrated at the birth of the child, there are many other ways in which a child can join the family. For example, when a private adoption takes place, the family can celebrate the addition of a new member to the family.

While there are different ways in which a child joins a new family, there are also many different types of adoption itself. In certain circumstances, the family may be close with the parents who are giving up the child for adoption. In other instances, the biological parents of the child may be hundreds of miles apart, or live in different countries.

International adoption, or intercountry adoption, is similar to adoption that occurs within the United States. Through both types of adoption, the adopting parents take over the legal right and responsibility to raise the child.

However, there are some distinctions to be aware of for adopting parents. Different laws from different countries may apply, which will need to be complied with in order to bring the child from another country into the United States.

This includes the laws of the United States, including immigration laws that may apply. For example, the laws of some countries would cover relationships that would be considered guardianships here, so they may not be sufficient for adoption purposes in the United States.

Given the different laws that apply, it may seem somewhat daunting to adopt a child from another country. However, thousands of these children are adopted each year, and individuals here can join these families by becoming aware of the applicable laws that govern the international adoption.

Source: U.S. Department of State, "What is intercountry adoption?," June 4, 2013

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