The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly affected many aspects of life for families in the United States and around the world. Many normal seasonal routines have been affected and parents and children of all ages have and are adjusting to new routines and policies, from changing summer plans to plans for school reopening.
For parents in the United States who started the process of adoption before the COVID-19 pandemic began in this country, moving forward with plans for family life has, in many cases, encountered new complications.
Normally, over 100,000 adoptions take place annually in the United States, as noted in statistics provided by the National Council for Adoption, according to a recent article published in Oprah.mag. Domestic adoptions have continued during the pandemic, as reported in a recent article in Parents.com, but not without changes to the process at all levels and affecting all of the individuals, groups, and agencies involved. Moreover, as noted in Oprah.mag, factors such as court closures, travel restrictions and delays and changing economic circumstances for some prospective adoptive parents have also affected domestic adoptions.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect not just the country, but the world, the effects on intercountry adoptions are also significant. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), as the agency responsible for determining the eligibility and suitability of prospective adopters has provided some important information pertaining to COVID-19, with particular responses that pertain specifically to COVID-19 and intercountry adoption.
According to information provided on the USCIS website, no changes currently pertain to eligibility requirements for adoption applications and petitions.
The USCIS website also reminds prospective adoptive parents that they do not need to notify USCIS or home study preparers of changes in their circumstances unless they are “significant changes.” For this purpose, significant changes that impact prospective adoptive parents can include, among other things:
- Financial resources
The website also states that updated home studies may be conducted by Skype, FaceTime, phone, email, etc.
Additionally, most significant changes to not require immediate notification to USCIS and the home study provider. There are exceptions, however, such as for changes related to certain criminal arrests, convictions, or criminal histories.
The USCIS website also addresses inquiries that have been made by prospective adoptive parents regarding the possibility of parole as a means of allowing children into the country for adoption.
Generally, parole is a means that can be used by individuals who are outside of the United States to request entry into the United States for humanitarian or public benefit reasons.
The response to these requests in the context of adoption, generally, is that they are rarely approved. The reasons provided for why this process is not generally favored are:
- Parole does not provide the same procedural safeguards as those that otherwise exist in adoption-based immigration proceedings
- In intercountry adoptions, parole does not provide adoptive children with the same immigration status protections as would be provided in regular adoption-based immigration proceedings
In the case of domestic and intercountry adoptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many factors that can lead to uncertainty and potential complications. If you are a prospective parent in Florida and are currently considering adoption, or have questions about the process and would like to learn more, contact the adoption law practitioners at Tampa Bay Legal Center, P.A.