Adoption Service Provider (ASP)– May be either an individual or agency licensed by the state to help birth parents place children with adoptive parents. If you are adopting from a country covered by the Hague Adoption Convention, your ASP must be both licensed in your state and accredited by the U.S. Department of State. If you are adopting from a country outside the Hague Convention, your ASP must be licensed in your state of residence.
Child Traffickingforeign adoption, some parents may sell their children, or the children may be stolen from homes or from orphanages and then “sold” to unsuspecting adoptive parents using fake documents. Guatemala recently banned foreign adoptions for a period of time in order to eliminate the rampant corruption in that country. The U.S. Department of State is not initiating any new adoptions in Guatemala at this time.
Hague Adoption Convention– An international agreement established n 1993 to protect and regulate intercountry adoptions. Today, almost ninety countries abide by the agreement, and if you are adopting from a Hague-convention country, you must follow very specific rules available on the State Department’s website.
Immediate Relative Petition– A process whereby adoptive parents can obtain an immediate visa for their newly adopted child to come and live permanently in the United States. There are unlimited visas available to immediate relatives so there is no waiting in line as for other categories of immigrants.
Intercountry– An adoption that takes place between two different countries, i.e., the adoptive parents live in one country and the child or children live in a different country. The adoptive parents must work with the laws of both countries in order to complete the adoption, for example, they must comply with the foreign government’s residency requirements, if any, and the U.S. government’s requirements for obtaining a visa for their child.
Interracial Adoption– An adoption that takes place between parents who are of one race or ethnic identity and a child or children of another. An international adoption may or may not be interracial. For example, Caucasian parents adopting a child from China are undertaking both an international and an interracial adoption. Hispanic parents adopting a child from Brazil are undertaking an international but not an interracial or transcultural adoption.
Passport– An official document issued by the federal government certifying an individual’s identity and citizenship. It is required for most foreign travel and particularly for re-entering one’s own country.
Private Agency– A non-governmental organization that may be either for profit, non-profit or not-for-profit. Virtually all international adoption agencies are private.
Public Agency– A state agency that receives its funding from tax dollars.
Residency Requirements– Many foreign countries require prospective adoptive parents to live in the country for a period of time before they are eligible to adopt. Some countries, particularly in Africa, have such long residency requirements that they effectively prevent most international adoptions.
Transcultural Adoption– See Interracial Adoption.
Transnational Adoption– See Intercountry Adoption.
U.S. Consulate– An informal organization that is maintained in foreign countries for the purpose of handling administrative matters such as immigrant visas. The U.S. government may establish a consulate instead of an embassy in a country with whom it has no formal diplomatic relations. See U.S. Embassy.
U.S. Embassy– A formal high-ranking organization maintained by the U.S. government in foreign countries. Embassy ambassadors represent the U.S. government to the foreign government where the embassy is established. The embassy also processes administrative details such as immigrant visas. See U.S. Consulate.
Visa– An official document issued by the federal government, which is usually affixed to the passport via a stamp, allowing an individual to remain within a particular country or region for an extended length of time. Many foreign countries have residency requirements that prospective adoptive parents must live in the country for a certain period of time before adopting.