Accepting a Referral

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When you accept your referral, you’ll have a little more paperwork to do. Generally speaking, you will complete the following forms once you accept a child referral: (Keep in mind that every country has different documentation requirements, so your list of paperwork may be somewhat different.)
  • Placement Agreement. In this document, you agree to accept placement of this child with your family
  • Special Needs Agreement. If your child has any special needs, no matter how minor, you will sign a document stating that you are fully aware of your child’s particular special need(s).

After you sign these documents, your adoption agency will send you your child’s legal documents. These documents, called “legals” by the international adoption community, are proof that your child is legally free for adoption according to U.S. law (see the section on “Definition of Orphan in Immigration Law”). Included in these legals will be:


  • Affirmation and Oath Certificate. This document states that all the translations of the other legal documents are true and correct.
  • Birth Certificate. You will receive your child’s original birth certificate, along with a birth certificate translated into English.
  • Proof That the Child is Eligible for Adoption. This proof can consist of a signed relinquishment statement from the birthparents, proof of abandonment by the birthparents, or proof that the birthparents are dead. Instead of a signed relinquishment statement, you may receive a court termination of parental rights.

All of these documents will be accompanied by a translation into English. Guard these documents with your life! Make copies of everything, and be sure to put the copies in a safe place (such as a fireproof safe in your home or a safety deposit box in your bank).

Credits: Excerpted from "International Adoption Guidebook," Mary M. Strickert, 2004

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