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Guardianship, Re-Adoption & Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Many families choose adoption in a foreign country as a means to grow their families. If you are one of these families, you have probably completed mountains of paperwork, jumped through hoop after hoop applying for multiple approvals, and are exhausted from travel overseas and parenting a young child. The thought of any more paperwork is no doubt exhausting. You may have also heard that state and the federal government have created laws designed to ease your burden and that your child has the same rights as a child born to you biologically. So why should you think about taking more steps that no one is requiring at the moment when you have already done so much and are so busy?

The answer is that you want your child to enjoy every benefit he or she would have if born to you biologically, not only now, but in the future. Sometime in the future, your child may wish to enroll in school, go on vacation overseas, apply for a driver's license, receive a Social Security card, attend college, apply for a scholarship, build a future of his or her own, and inherit through your family. All of these are benefits of the parent-child relationship you have sought to create through adoption.

But what happens if your child applies for that scholarship and needs proof of his or her United States citizenship? Your child may have received a Certificate of Citizenship soon after arriving in the U.S., but it states the child's original first name from the foreign country rather than the name you have used since arriving home. Do you then supply all of your foreign adoption documents to the scholarship committee and an explanation that Juan Miguel is, in fact, the same person as John Michael? What if you never received a Certificate of Citizenship and forgot to follow up on why it never arrived? If the child received an IR-4 visa, the reason he or she did not receive a Certificate of Citizenship is that he or she never actually became a U.S. citizen and needs to be re-adopted to receive such benefits.

Reasons to Pursue Re-Adoption

Seeking recognition of a foreign adoption, also called re-adoption, is the process by which you ask a U.S. state court to review the foreign adoption documents and enter a court order recognizing you are the child's parents. For some, re-adoption is optional; for others, it is required as a necessary step to secure U.S. citizenship for the child.

For families receiving IR-3 or IH-3 visas, re-adoption is optional; however, you may choose to pursue re-adoption for a number of reasons.

  • Re-adoption affords you the opportunity to change the child's name to his or her American name if this was not already changed as part of the foreign adoption. A state birth certificate issued after re-adoption will contain not only your name as the parent, but the child's American name.
  • Re-adoption ensures that you will always have an easily recognizable adoption decree in English, rather than a foreign decree and translation, for which validity and content may be more difficult to demonstrate to those unfamiliar with adoption law.
  • Re-adoption also ensures that you can acquire another adoption decree in the future should your foreign decree be lost or destroyed.
  • Re-adoption ensures that the foreign-born child will not be treated differently from biological children on issues such as inheritance or guardianship. Re-adoption preserves the child's rights under the law and eliminates the ability of a third party to challenge the legality of the parent-child relationship at a future time.
  • Re-adoption ensures that all states will recognize the validity of your foreign adoption should you someday move to a state that does not do so as a matter of law.
  • Re-adoption affords an adoptive family peace of mind that no one can ever challenge the validity of their parentage in the U.S. or abroad, even if adoption laws subsequently change in the future.

If you have any questions about whether you need to re-adopt as a Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Delaware resident, or whether it would provide any benefit to you given the facts of your particular case, please feel free to call to discuss your situation.

Adoption Lawyer in Philadelphia, PA, New Jersey & Delaware

If you are a family member or friend who is caring for a child, I can assist you in obtaining guardianship or legal custody of that child. Whether the child was born in the U.S. or in a foreign country, I can guide you through the court process so that the child in your care has legal security and permanency with your family. I have experience handling simple guardianship cases, also called legal custody in some states, as well as more complicated cases involving international children present in the United States in need of permanency and security with loving caregivers. My firm can help you explore whether pursuit of legal permanent residency (a green card) for the child is feasible and take steps necessary to achieve such status.

When you work with the Law Offices of Deborah E. Spivack, I can help you understand your legal rights and help you quickly and effectively obtain legal guardianship of a minor child. I have 12 years of experience handling complex adoption and guardianship cases and I can navigate the legal systems of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. You can be confident that you are in good hands when you work with the Law Offices of Deborah E. Spivack.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status enables caretakers, such as yourself, of non-U.S. citizen children living in your home who have faced abandonment, neglect, or abuse to have permanency and security in the U.S. with your family. If you are considering filing a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status petition, it is important that you work with a firm that has experience with the important relationship between adoption and immigration laws so that we can implement a solution that will provide permanency and security to the child in your care.

Contact my firm to learn more.

Client Comments

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Having Debbie as our representation through the sometimes tumultuous process of private adoption, was a wise wise choice, and we are so glad that we listened to the strong recommendations we got. Debbie has so much knowledge in all aspects of adoption and also has a heart that genuinely cares about adoption and shows compassion to the many difficult and hard to understand dynamics. Her calm, steady, and confident demeanor gave us so much peace along the way. Debbie ...

~ Jeff and Julia Pearson

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Schedule a Consultation 888.899.6212
Law Offices of Deborah E. Spivack
Adoption Lawyer
PA: PO Box 56182 Philadelphia, PA 19130-6182
NJ: P.O. Box 3433, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034-0332
DE: 300 Delaware Ave. Suite 210, Wilmington, DE 19801
Phone: (888) 899-6212
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