“My husband and I are considering adopting a child from Europe, preferably Ireland. We are just beginning the process of research and figured that the Irish Voice would be one of the best places to start. Are there adoption agencies in Ireland that specialize in adoption, and would the child automatically be an American citizen after the process is completed?”

Adopting an Irish-born child will likely be next to impossible for a number of reasons. First and foremost, there aren’t really any Irish children available for adoption these days – locating one would be akin to finding a needle in a haystack.

In the decades last century when out of wedlock pregnancies were deeply frowned upon, and when Ireland was a poor nation, adoption of Irish-born children was more prevalent. Now, pre-marriage births are commonplace and widely accepted in Ireland, and Irish orphanages for abandoned babies do not exist.

Irish couples looking to adopt routinely go abroad to Eastern Europe or Asia to do so, as Irish children simply aren’t available.

Another factor you would have to bear in mind if you were to adopt an Irish child is a residency requirement written into Irish law. Any foreigner wishing to adopt an Irish child would have to reside in Ireland for at least a year as part of the process. Given how difficult this would be for many couples, adoption of Irish children is an extreme rarity.

You very likely know that your adoption quest will have to be undertaken hand in hand with a reputable adoption agency that will guide you on all the variables, including all of the U.S. immigration requirements. Given the intricacy of adoption laws both in this country and abroad, you will also require the services of an attorney who practices in this area.

Very briefly, you’ll become acquainted with the two main ways that Americans adopt children from abroad -- either in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention, an international treaty that provides safeguards to protect the best interests of children, birth parents and adoptive parents who are involved in inter-country adoptions; or if the child is considered an orphan, which is primarily used for children who are natives of non-Hague countries.

As the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) website advises, the country that you’re adopting from will dictate which process you need to use to secure U.S. immigration status for the child. (The USCIS website, www.uscis.gov, provides a wealth of useful information that will help you understand the way forward.)

There will not be a problem securing U.S. citizen for your adopted child. If the adoption is finalized prior to the child coming to the U.S., the child will automatically acquire U.S. citizenship after entering the U.S. with a special adoption visa for the first time, provided the child is under 18 years of age.
If the adoption is to be completed after the child enters the U.S., the child will enter the country with a special adoption visa, and is then automatically entitled to a green card which confers permanent resident status. The child’s U.S. citizenship will be conferred on the date that the adoption is finalized.

Confusing for sure, but each year thousands of Americans adopt children from abroad, so the process works. Just make sure and secure the services of a credible adoption service agency. The USCIS site has a list of ones that are approved.