When a family returns to the United States with their child who was adopted in another country, there are often additional steps to be taken.
When a Texas resident adopts a child from another country, that adoption is governed by Texas law, United States law, international adoption law and treaties, and the law of the country where the adoption took place. In addition, the area of adoption law has been changing rapidly for the past several years, so the requirements or recommendations will not be the same for everyone. For instance, a child adopted in China in 2009 may have a very different legal situation than a child who was adopted in Guatemala in 2000.
There is a lot of confusion between “readoption” and “reaffirmation”, although the words are often used interchangeably. Whether the more detailed “readoption” or the relatively simple “reaffirmation” (recognition) of the adoption is required is ultimately determined by the paperwork and facts in each situation, by the Texas County in which the suit is filed, and even by the individual Texas judge’s requirements for his/her court.
People often ask if they “must” do anything further. If there are additional requirements that must be met to insure legal status with U.S. immigration, the answer is “yes”. In some situations, not following through could cause an “uncertain” or “undocumented” status when the child reaches 18. (Please note: If a child became 18 prior to February 27, 2001, when the Child Citizenship Act came into effect, that child was not granted “automatic” U.S. Citizenship. If you or your child came in prior to February 27, 2001 and never took final steps with US Immigration, you should investigate or seek a legal consult to see what options are available to remedy this situation.)
Although it may not be legally required for a child who has been granted US citizenship to take the additional step of having the foreign adoption reaffirmed in Texas state court, it is always a good idea. After the judge signs the order, a U.S. (Texas) birth certificate with the child’s name and both parents’ name on it can be obtained. The judge can also grant a name change when necessary. Taking care of these details will assist the parents and child with documentation issues when registering for school, getting a driver’s license, applying for employment, or applying for college, scholarships and financial aid and is the “final step” in a long, successful adoption journey!