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International Adoption and Parental Consent

There are four important parties involved in an international adoption: 1) the adoptive parents, 2) the adoptive child, 3) the Court with jurisdiction in the country where the child resides, and 4) the biological parents.

Sometimes biological parents are overlooked when thinking about the international adoption process. But, they shouldn’t be. They do play a role in each and every adoption, though that role is sometimes limited.


Consent to Adoption


A child cannot be adopted unless their biological parents have consented to the adoption. This is so because, once the adoption is recognized, the child’s legal relationship with their biological parents is severed, and that parental relationship then exists between the child and their adoptive parents. Obviously, this has a profound effect on all three parties: the child, the adoptive parents, and the biological parents.


The objective behind the consent requirement is to protect the child from unnecessary separations from their parents, to protect biological parents from uninformed or coerced decisions, and to protect adoptive parents from anxiety over the legality of the adoption. With these intentions in mind, obtaining permission for adoption from a child’s birth parents is important and necessary. However, it can also be complicated because it is governed by the laws of the child’s country of origin, the State in which the adoptive parents live, U.S. immigration law, and international adoption law.


Discussing the requirements of every separate county and of each State is far outside of the scope of this post. However, if you do have questions about a specific country of origin, or about the laws from your State, don’t hesitate to call us.


The Hague Convention and the IAA


There are two main laws that govern international adoptions in the United States. The first is the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Convention). The second is the U.S. Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA), through which the U.S. implemented the Hague Convention. Both laws’ central goal is to protect the rights of the child. However, each law also requires that biological parents consent to the adoption of their child.


The Hague Convention requires that biological parents be counseled and duly informed that the effect of their consent will terminate their legal relationship with their biological child. See Hague Convention art. 4(c)(1).

Further, under the Hague Convention, biological parents must give their consent freely, in the required legal form, and expressed or evidenced in writing. Parental consent must not have been induced by payment or compensation of any kind. And, consent of the mother, unless her parental rights have been terminated within her country of origin, must be given after the child is born. Evidence of parental consent must be provided in the report generated by the state of the child’s origin to the United States. See Hague Convention art. 4(c).


Mirroring the Hague Convention, the IAA states that parents must “freely give[] their irrevocable consent to the termination of their legal relationship with the[ir] child, and to the child’s emigration and adoption.” See 8 U.S.C. § 1101(b)(1)(G)(i)(II) 2004.

By its very nature, each and every adoption will change lives. It alters the most fundamental relationship that exists, the relationship between parents and children. Because of this powerful and essential change, every aspect of an international adoption is highly regulated, including the consent given by biological parents.


Don’t take on this process alone. Call us today at (385) 334-4030 to set up a free consultation and speak with our attorneys. We can help you with your international adoption from beginning to end.