Families whose internationally adopted children are automatically U.S. citizens upon arrival home (IR-3 or IH-3 visa) face the choice of whether or not to “re-adopt” their child in their state. The primary reason that families forego the re-adoption process is due to cost and time commitment to complete this process. This hesitation is understandable, as families often must retain an attorney to complete the re-adoption. Parents in this position must weigh the cost versus the benefit, and many families find that the benefits far outweigh the cost. Below you will find five reasons families may decide to re-adopt their child.
- State-Issued Adoption Decree: Parents are typically provided with a state-issued adoption decree through the re-adoption process. While you will have an adoption decree from the child’s country of origin, that decree may not be accepted for all purposes in your state or states your child may move to in the future.
- State-Issued Birth Certificate: The re-adoption process generally provides you with a delayed certificate of birth issued by your state that may be useful in the future. The U.S. birth certificate, in addition to other documents, should allow your child to register for school, apply for a driver’s license, apply for college scholarships, obtain social security benefits if needed, as well as other benefits to which U.S. citizens are entitled.
- Name Change: Often the family may change the child’s name at this time. Even if your state provides full-faith and credit recognizing the child’s international adoption, the state may not recognize the child’s name change.
- Protection of Child’s Inheritance Rights: Re-adoption ensures the adopted child’s ability to inherit from an adoptive parent through intestate laws (laws that govern inheritance if you do not have a will). This is important even if you do have a will, in the event that your will is found to be unenforceable for any reason.
- Protections for Child’s Future Regardless of Residence: If your state gives full-faith and credit to an international adoption decree and your child never moves, you may not have issues. However, if your family moves to a place that does not recognize the international adoption decree, the legality of the adoption could be questioned. There are some states that do not recognize international adoption and would require a full adoption after a move to protect the child’s rights.
Each state’s re-adoption process is different and it is therefore important to consult an attorney in your state to discuss the re-adoption benefits and process. While many families with U.S. citizen adoptive children are hesitant to spend the money and time required to re-adopt their child, it is strongly encouraged that all families complete this process to best safeguard their child’s rights and future.
Of the countries that MLJ Adoptions serves, the majority of children arriving home will be considered US citizens automatically. Most children arriving home from Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Ukraine will have arrived on IR-3 or IH-3 visas and will be considered U.S. citizens automatically. Children arriving home from Democratic Republic of Congo and Samoa, may or may not automatically be U.S. citizens upon arrival in the U.S. At MLJ Adoptions, we offer our Indiana client families re-adoption services to best assist them with this process. As a licensed attorney in Indiana, I am more than happy to assist our Indiana client families with this additional service.
For more information on our international adoption services, please contact us.