How to Protect Your International Adoption in South Carolina

Many parents who adopt internationally dream of the day they will fly back to the United States with their new child. For these families, returning home may feel like the end of the long road to international adoption — but there is one more important step of the international adoption process that needs to be completed.

Depending on your circumstances, your adoption may need to be finalized or domesticated by a South Carolina court. As an attorney with years of experience completing international adoptions, Rick Corley is familiar with both of these processes and can provide the services you need to ensure your new family is legally protected in the United States.

International Adoption in South Carolina

The process of finalizing an international adoption can be complex. Your adoption not only needs to meet the requirements of the United States, but also the requirements of the country where your child was born.

To ensure your parent-child relationship is legally recognized and protected when you return home to South Carolina, you may need to complete one of two processes: domesticating the foreign adoption or finalizing the adoption in a South Carolina court. The two processes are similar; however, finalization is a requirement, while domestication is strongly encouraged.

Whether you need to finalize your adoption in South Carolina will depend largely on the type of visa your child received. In the following sections, learn when finalization is required in international adoption, and discover why domestication is strongly recommended for every internationally adopted child.

Finalizing an International Adoption

If your child was issued an IH-4 visa, it means that the adoption was not legally finalized in his or her country of birth, and you will be required to finalize the adoption in South Carolina. Your child may be issued an IR-4 visa if you are adopting from certain countries or if only one of two parents meets the child in his or her birth country.

In these scenarios, you will receive all of the paperwork necessary for the adoption aside from the final adoption decree. You will have legal custody of your child when you return to the United States, but he or she will not be a U.S. citizen until you finalize the adoption in court.

Rick provides all of the legal services necessary to finalize an international adoption in South Carolina and can walk you through each step of the process, including:

  • Filing the adoption petition to initiate the adoption process
  • Submitting the required documentation to the court, including a copy of your child’s visa and documents issued by the country where he or she was born
  • Arranging a finalization hearing and notifying you when it is time to appear in court
  • Obtaining a final adoption decree issued by the South Carolina court
  • Applying for a new state-issued birth certificate and social security number for your child

If your child’s adoption was not finalized in the country of his or her birth, this process is an important requirement to ensure your adoption is completed legally. Failing to finalize your adoption in South Carolina could result in significant legal challenges for your family and could put your adoption in jeopardy.

Domestication of a Foreign Adoption

If your adoption is legally finalized in your child’s birth country, your child will be issued an IR-3 visa to travel to the United States. The IR-3 visa automatically grants your child U.S. citizenship, so additional legal steps are not necessary to complete the adoption in South Carolina.

However, in these scenarios, it is still strongly encouraged that you complete a legal process called domestication of foreign adoption. This process, sometimes also called “international re-adoption,” involves a review of your international adoption by a South Carolina court. When the court determines that your adoption was legally finalized in your child’s country of birth, it will issue an order stating that your adoption is legally recognized by the state.

By domesticating your adoption, you will be issued a new U.S. birth certificate for your child, which is beneficial in a number of ways:

  • It is easier to obtain a copy of a U.S. birth certificate than it is to obtain a copy of a foreign birth certificate
  • The new birth certificate will allow you to legally change your child’s name
  • Having a state-issued birth certificate may simplify everyday tasks, such as enrolling in school or obtaining a driver’s license
  • Domesticating the adoption may provide some tax benefits for your family

Domestication is a fairly simple and cost-effective paperwork process that does not require you to appear at a court hearing. Rick can walk provide all of the legal services you need to complete your international re-adoption, from filing the necessary paperwork with the court to obtaining a new birth certificate and social security number for your child.

If you adopted a child internationally and are unsure about the type of visa your child received, contact Rick to learn more about international adoption laws and processes in South Carolina. He can provide more information about the benefits of international re-adoption and help you determine whether your adoption needs to be finalized or domesticated in a South Carolina court.