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08 June 2008


Lorie H.

Hi! Read your blog and it seems we're experiencing the same frustration. My husband and I want to adopt. He is currently living and working in Australia (1.5 years now) and will be there for another year - at least. I was there for a year and now go back and forth to our home in NV. Domestic adoption for is not an option, as my husband would have to come to the US approx. 6 times in 6 months for home study, placement, post placement, etc.....not possible. So I wanted to find out if we could do the home study and everything in AU, adopt internationally, then do all the follow up in AU as well...since that's the place we're "together" at most of the time. (Of course, I'd stay with him if we were able to adopt, and stop the back and forth so often~) AU tells me I'd have to get a US agency to do everything...US tells me they don't do that..so frustrated and confused! Have you had any success? Any advice you could share would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much, and good luck! Lorie


Hi Lorie,
It's all a very confusing mess, isn't it? Let me get a couple things straight: you are both American, right? Is your husband in AU on a Permanent Resident visa or a different visa (that is very important)? If you are U.S. citizens, and you are NOT Permanent Residents in AU, then I believe you SHOULD be able to adopt internationally, while living in AU. You would need an agency that works with US expatriates/military to conduct your home study and post-placement documentation. I would recommend Randy Barlow (google him). Very few agencies will work with families abroad so you don't have as many choices, but there are a few that do and have a lot of experience.

A huge issue in all of this is the Hague Convention. When we were trying to work this out, it was just being implemented and a lot of agencies didn't know yet, how it would impact their ability to work with Americans abroad. I don't really know how they have sorted that out, but I do know that non-Hague countries (like Ehtiopia) are easier for Americans abroad to adopt through.

I hope that helps, and if I can answer anything else, I'm happy to. Good luck!


We're in the early stages of a very similar situation. Doing a series of internet searches led me to your blog. This resource might be helpful to you: http://www.mtjordanlaw.com/adopt_living_abroad.asp
as you live in Australia and the law there can sometimes make it difficult for adopting families. Michele Jordan is an attorney and is supposedly quite good at assisting with expats throughout this process. My husband and I now have 2 biological daughters but since before marriage have also wished to adopt or participate in foster parenting. Now that we've moved to S. Korea (not military) we feel totally unsure about the adoption process. I often wonder if all the research we put into the process for a domestic adoption is completely irrelevant now....So much more to learn. Thanks for your blog, btw. As an African-American mom, married to a white-American southerner, raised more or less as an independent fundamentalist, who is now living in a foreign country, I find your writing personally endearing, relatable, often funny and always interesting.
Blessings to your sweet family!


I am adopting locally in the United States with Crisis Pregnancy Outreach. www.Crisispregnancyoutreach.org. We just had a U.S. missionary couple (currently living in Africa), adopt through CPO. They are here on furlough, but you could contact CPO to know if they can help.


Hi Molly,

Thanks for the link. If we were in the US, adopting wouldnt be a problem. Our barrier is that Australia wont grant an entry visa to a child weve adopted abroad, unless it is through their adoption program, which we dont qualify for because we arent citizens. If were were on furlough, or something like that, we could do it, but we have no plans to leave Australia in the near future. So, a miracle is necessary! I appreciate your help, though, and thanks for stopping by my blog!



Hi! We are likewise going through the process of researching if domestic US adoption is possible for us. I'm a US citizen currently on a temporary visa. Although we can legally adopt in America, it's the same issue of whether the adopted child could get a visa to return to Australia, as well as whether it would be an expensive Hague adoption process. It's a CRAZY thing getting conflicting information from both sides of the ocean and I appreciated your making public our otherwise private frustration at the process. So MUCH time and effort, as you say, just to figure out if it's even possible. I wonder if you could pass on how you determined which opinion from which agency has the final authority, as we seem to get different answers wherever we turn, sometimes depending on who picks up the phone that day!


Hi Zoe,

You are absolutely right, the answer changes with each person you talk to! Here is what we learned, about two years ago. I have checked in with our attorney a couple times since then to see if there have been changes and each time there have not been.

We are U.S. citizens in Australia with permanent resident visas. For us we are in a double bind - Australia wont grant us an entrance visa for a child we could adopt through a number of U.S. based agencies that work with expats, because those adoptions dont fall under the governance of DOCs which controls all adoptions in Australia. At the same time, they will not allow us to adopt through the Australian system because we are not citizens. One of us has to be a citizen to adopt here.

I found agencies that could work with us, but getting an entrance visa for the child is the sticking point. We couldnt really get a clear answer until we got an attorney to talk it through with us.

Now, it sounds like your situation is different. Your visa status might give you more freedom. I would recommend paying the one-off fee to consult with an immigration attorney here. It is the only straight answer you will get, from my experience.

I believe U.S. armed forces personel fall under different guidelines.

If you CAN adopt while here, I would recommend Randy Barlow (randybarlow@randybarlow.com) who is an international social worker and a wealth of information. He was of the opinion that a non-Hague adoption (including U.S. domestic adoption) is much less complicated for expats.

Our only loophole to adopt (without citizenship, that is), is if we spent a cumulative 12 months outside of Australia for documentable work/education/etc and just happen to adopt while abroad, you CAN get a visa for that child to enter Australia. 

I hope this helps, and I am happy to answer any other questions I can. If you come up with information you think we could use, Im all ears!

Kohana (Adina in real life)


You asked for agencies that can work with expats abroad, see list at: http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/reslist/rl_dsp.cfm?rs_id=2&rate_chno=CD-41596

These results are current as of: May 28, 2011

Adoption agencies that can place children with U.S. citizens residing overseas. If you are aware of any other licensed private agencies providing adoption services for U.S. citizens living abroad that are not included on this list, please provide us with the contact information for that agency at nfcadupdates@childwelfare.gov. Inclusion on this list is for information purposes and does not constitute an endorsement by Child Welfare Information Gateway or the Children's Bureau.


Thanks for your reply, I missed it initially! Well, even if you can't use it, (I'm sorry!) the link above for expat adoption agencies might benefit someone else who finds this. Yes, the info you got squares with what we heard when I thought I had a permanent visa. It was only when I double checked that I saw it was temporary! So now we are back to asking all the questions. Everyone we talk to in Australia says it is ok from Australia's point of view. But the Australian embassy in the US isn't so sure, so we need to figure out who is "the decider" and how to communicate the decision to the other agency. I called the central agency in canberra today, so hopefully they will get back to me with an affirmative answer and information on whether it would be a Hague adoption... Failing that, do you know a good immigration attorney, or do I need to find one locally? Meanwhile, I'm sorry I have nothing helpful to offer you right now, but will keep my ears open, and send good vibes your way!

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