U.S. Citizenship for an Adopted Child

Citizenship laws can be confusing for adopted people and adoptive parents. Here is information from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to help you navigate obtaining citizenship for an internationally adopted person. All information represented below is from USCIS not Spence-Chapin. Learn more on their website: https://www.uscis.gov/adoption/bringing-your-internationally-adopted-child-united-states/us-citizenship-adopted-child

Documents That Generally Serve as Evidence of U.S. Citizenship for an Adopted Child

U.S. Passport* Issued by U.S. Department of State (DOS) Visit travel.state.gov for more information, including full instructions, current fees and application.
U.S. Certificate of Citizenship Issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Visit uscis.gov for more information including full instructions, current fees, and application.

*All passport applicants must prove their U.S. citizenship and identity to receive a U.S. passport. A Certificate of Citizenship is generally sufficient to apply for and obtain a U.S. passport for an adopted child. If the adopted child has not received a Certificate of Citizenship, you must submit other proof of acquisition of citizenship, including a certified copy of the final adoption decree (and translation if not in English) and evidence the child met all the conditions in section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) while under the age of 18.

Note: Some federal agencies may check immigration systems to verify citizenship status. USCIS systems will not be updated with a child’s citizenship status unless the family obtains a Certificate of Citizenship.

Lawful Permanent Residence or Citizenship Upon Admission into the U.S.

Under section 320 of the INA, an adopted child will automatically acquire citizenship upon admission to the United States if he or she satisfies these conditions before turning 18:

  • Qualifies as an “immediate relative” under INA 101(b)(1)(E), (F), or (G),
  • Is admitted as a permanent resident, and
  • Is residing in the United States in the U.S. citizen parent(s)’ legal and physical custody.

INA section 320 became effective on February 27, 2001, when the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA) was signed into law.  The child must have been under the age of 18 on the effective date in order to have benefited from the CCA.

Note: If a child does not acquire citizenship from the original prospective or adoptive parents, the child may still be eligible to acquire citizenship if later adopted by different U.S. citizen parent(s), provided they meet all the requirements in section 320 of the INA.

If the child is not eligible for automatic citizenship upon admission to the United States, they will become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and may become a U.S. citizen once all the conditions of INA 320 are met. If the requirements are not met, the child will still be an LPR and may apply for naturalization under INA 316 once eligible to do so. The chart below outlines the visa classifications, process to obtain evidence of an adopted child’s U.S. citizenship, and the documents that generally serve as evidence of U.S. citizenship for an adopted child.

Obtaining a Certificate of Citizenship

If the adopted child does not qualify for a Certificate of Citizenship upon admission, you may still apply for one if your child satisfies the eligibility requirements. You must follow different processes to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship, depending on whether the adopted child will reside inside or outside of the United States with the U.S. citizen parent.

  • General Eligibility: (Please refer to the chart below for more specific guidance.)
    • The adopted child meets the definition of child under INA Section 101(b)(1)(E), (F) or (G);
    • The child is under 18 years of age when all conditions are met; and
    • The child must have at least one U.S. citizen parent (by birth or naturalization).
Child Will Reside Inside the U.S.

(Pursuing U.S. Citizenship under INA Section 320)

Child Will Reside Outside the U.S.

(Pursuing U.S. Citizenship under INA Section 322)

How to Obtain a Certificate of Citizenship

File Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship.

Additional Requirements:

  • The child is residing in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent after being lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

Note: Please refer to the Form N-600 filing instructions for information about required evidence, fees and where to file. If the adopted child received an IH-3 or IR-3 visa and met all of the INA 320 requirements upon admission to the U.S., the child will receive a Certificate of Citizenship automatically and it is not necessary to file Form N-600.

How to Obtain a Certificate of Citizenship

File Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322.

Additional Requirements:

  • The U.S. citizen parent (or a U.S. citizen grandparent, if applicable) meets certain physical presence requirements;
  • The child is residing outside of the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent (unless the parent is deceased);
  • The child is temporarily present in the United States after being lawfully admitted, and maintains such status; and
  • Child under age 18 takes the Oath of Allegiance before a USCIS officer, unless waived.

Note: On the Form N-600K, petitioners may request a specific USCIS office or preferred city and state for interview, as well as a preferred interview date that is at least 90 days after filing the Form N-600K. After USCIS receives and processes the form, USCIS will send an appointment notice to the family to appear for an interview at a domestic USCIS field office on a particular date.  The family may apply for a B-2 visa or other available nonimmigrant visa for the child to travel to the U.S. and must pay the required fee. A nonimmigrant visa is not needed if the child obtains an immigrant visa, and is admitted as an LPR, but will not be residing in the United States.  The family may apply for the visa at the same post that processed their adoption case or apply at another post if they currently live in a different country.

Children of Armed Forces/Military Service Members and U.S. Government Employees

  • The adopted child of a U.S. citizen armed forces member who is accompanying their parent abroad on official orders may be naturalized without having to travel to the United States for any part of the process if he or she qualifies under INA 322.
    • Additionally, a U.S. citizen parent who is a member of the armed forces may count any period of time they resided abroad on official orders as physical presence in the United States.
  • An adopted child of a member of the armed forces or U.S. government employee issued an IR-3or IH-3 will be eligible for automatic issuance of a Certificate of Citizenship upon admission even if he or she intends to return abroad; provided all of the other conditions under INA 320 are met.
  • An adopted child of a member of the armed forces or U.S. government employee issued an IR-2 visa will not automatically be issued a Certificate of Citizenship but the parent may file a Form N-600 after admission or Form N-600K (even if they intend to return abroad), provided that all of the other conditions under either Section 320 or Section 322 of the INA are met.

*NOTE: The information on this page is meant to be a general guide. The charts provide an overview of citizenship issues related to adopted children and this page is not a definitive policy document. The facts of individual cases will be reviewed and adjudicated on a case-by-case basis. This page is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or by any individual or other party in removal proceedings, in litigation with the United States, or in any other form or manner.  Last Revised 9/2/2016.

Above is information from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to navigate obtaining citizenship for an internationally adopted person. All information represented is from USCIS not Spence-Chapin. Learn more on their website: https://www.uscis.gov/adoption/bringing-your-internationally-adopted-child-united-states/us-citizenship-adopted-child.

Post Adoption Depression: The Elusive “Happily Ever After”

What are the signs of post adoption depression and what can you do to help yourself feel better?

After all we’ve been through to adopt our child, we expect bliss. We deserve bliss!  And sometimes we get bliss. But sometimes instead of that euphoric feeling of accomplishment and love, we feel let down, exhausted, unprepared, and sad.

Truth be told, these are common feelings of all new parents regardless of how their kids join their family, but they can be worsened by the stress of adoption and the shame we feel.

Post Adoption Depression

Post partum depression or the baby blues is often talked about in our society (thank you Brooke Shields), and struggling new mothers are met with sympathy and support. Not so with post adoption depression or post adoption blues. Shame and our society’s general lack of understanding get in the way of support and acceptance.

Most adoptive mothers I talk with feel confused and guilty when they feel sad and irritable after their long awaited child finally arrives–and the key words are long awaited. This is the child that we’ve worked years to get. This is the child that we’ve probably spent a huge chunk of our savings to get. This is a child that we’ve been studied and questioned by heaven-knows how many experts to get. Now that we finally have her, we should be overjoyed. Right? If instead of feeling euphoric, we feel depressed, angry, and not besotted with love, then there must be something wrong with us. Right?

The shame that many parents feel makes it hard to get help and support. Who can they trust with this “dirty little secret”. They are afraid to tell their adoption social worker for fear that somehow their child will be taken away or they won’t be able to adopt again. They are afraid to tell their family and friends for fear that they won’t understand and that they will look ungrateful. This aloneness makes the depression worse.

It helps to know that Post Adoption Depression is common. On a Creating a Family Radio show on Post Adoption Depression: Causes and Prevention, Dr. Jane Aronson, adoption medicine specialist and founder and Chief Executive of the Worldwide Orphan Foundation, said that almost all of her patients feel conflicted emotions the first couple of months after they adopt, and about 75-85% report feeling sad or depressed.

Dr. Aronson thinks that post adoption depression is often caused by a mismatch of expectations with reality. And let’s face it, most of us have had a lot of years to build up unrealistic expectations.

Risk factors include adopting a school aged child, being an older or single parent, stress (financial, familial, etc.), and unresolved grief from infertility. Most of the time these feeling resolve within about six months when life begins to settle in and develop patterns, and you and your child begin to know each other.

What to Do If You Think You Have Post Adoption Depression

If after about 6 months or so, or if your feelings of despair or anger are more than moderate, get help!

  • Talk with your social worker. The vast majority of social workers know that these feelings are common and will be able to offer support without judgement.
  • Find a therapist with experience in depression–meaning any good therapist. They don’t have to specialize in depression caused by adoption. If you’ve struggled with infertility, however, I do think it’s helpful to find a therapist who understands the losses associated with infertility. Here are some suggestions on how to find one.
  • Dr. Aronson feels that most family doctors are more than adequate to treat this type of depression.
  • If your child has a pediatrician that specializes in adoption, share your feelings with her/him. They’ve heard it before, I promise, and they can offer help and support. Even if your pediatrician isn’t an adoption specialist, she will likely be able to offer you support and advice.
  • Most important–join an adoption support group! I can’t stress enough how soothing it is to be surrounded by people who have been there, done that, and have the t-shirt to prove it. Just knowing you’re not alone takes the pressure off and allows time to start the healing. If you are fortunate to live near an active in-person support group, fantastic. If not, or in addition, join an online group such as the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group. The ready availability of someone to talk to 24/7 is priceless. Believe it or not, sometimes it’s easier to open up to someone you don’t know in “real life”.
  • Listen to a Creating a Family show on Post Adoption Depression. Dr. Aronson offers a kind and honest approach to parenting. She suffered from post adoption depression after her second adoption and she talks frankly about it in our interview.


Take Good Care of Yourself

I know you’ve heard it before, but you really must take care of yourself those first months home.  Eat, sleep, and exercise are obvious, but equally important in my book is making sure you have some time to yourself, even just a little, to do something you enjoy. It might be going for a walk, window shopping for an hour at the mall, or grabbing a cup of tea with a friend, but try your best to have something to look forward to every week.

Did you have a rough transition post adoption? Would you have called it post adoption depression? What did you do that helped?



Think you may be suffering from post-adoption depression? Call us today for a free phone call with a social worker (646-539-2167)!


This content was originally published by Creating a Family, the national adoption & infertility education nonprofit. https://creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/post-adoption-depression/

Single Parent Adoption

Spence-Chapin believes that every child deserves a family. Connecting children with permanent parents, deep parental love, and a lifelong sense of security — that’s why we do what we do. Our expertise has consistently expanded the benefits of adoption to more children and the many different types of prospective parents who want to love them.

Many single individuals are interested in becoming parents nowadays, however, because of their marital status, often times, they believe that adoption cannot be an option for them. In these past few years, adoption by single parents has been increasing steadily. In domestic adoptions, single parent adoption requirements are usually very similar to that of married couples. Although, adopting and parenting a child as a single individual requires diligence, it is extremely possible. If you are considering adopting as a single parent, this can be a great way for you to build your family.

A number of single individuals have also effectively built their families by adopting from other countries. Eligibility guidelines for adoptive parents are set by the country and some countries allow do allow adoptions by single people. Families will be able to find information about country-specific rules and guidelines on the U.S. Department of State website.

A great thing to do to begin preparing for your adoption journey is to connect with other single parents who have adopted. Having direct information of the experience will play an essential role in helping you prepare for your adoption. There are also many resources available for single prospective parents that can help make the transition a little easier.

To learn more about our domestic or international adoption programs, please contact us at (212) 400-8150 or info@spence-chapin.org.


Meet Our Newest Interim Care Families!

holding baby handWe put out the call for more volunteers and you heard us! Last winter we were in need of more volunteer families to care for babies before an adoption or parenting plan is in place. Thank you to our community for your support in helping us find so many incredible families. Meet the newest families ready to care for babies!

Tammy and Evan are experienced parents having raised their 4 daughters and now that the kids are almost out of the house, Tammy and Evan realized they have more love and care to share. They want to give back to their community and feel honored to be supporting birth parents.

Ellyn and Jamie are a mother & daughter interim care team. They are both nurses and live together. They are motivated to provide each baby with the safe, healthy, and loving start every child deserves. They want the child’s short time in interim care to be a loving and supportive place before going to join their permanent family.

April & Jeremy are experienced parents of two sons who are eager to help care for the babies. This family loves watching even the smallest babies develop their own personality and they are ready to provide an abundance of love and care for every child that comes into their home!

Laura and Mark are experienced parents of three children and they love caring for kids! They have been volunteers in their community for years and thought this was a special opportunity to share their time, love, and home with a child during a very important time.

 Welcome Tammy, Evan, Ellyn, Jamie, April, Jeremy, Laura, and Mark to the Spence-Chapin family! It is clear from getting to know each of you over the past few months that you all are special families with lots of time, love, care, and snuggles to share!

5 Parenting Tips: How to Improve the Behavior of Children with ADHD

Mother helping son with homework

Parenting a child with ADHD requires a special type of patience and understanding. When every task is a battle, days can feel exhausting before you’re even out the door.

Follow these 5 tips to help improve the behavior of your child with ADHD.

  1. Stay Cool – Often children with ADHD scream and yell during their meltdowns. When disciplining your child, keep the volume down and keep calm.
  2. Keep it Positive – Don’t just punish bad behavior, remember to reward good behavior too! Taking the positive approach is more effective than delivering ultimatums. Praise your child 4 more times than you criticize them. Children with ADHD report having lower self-esteem than their peers. When you lead by example, your child will develop the skills necessary to manage their ADHD, will believe in themselves, and will succeed in all aspects of their life.
  3. Give Your Child Concrete Tasks – Children with ADHD are often forgetful. When you provide them with clear, succinct, and specific tasks, they are more successful than if you give them 5 things to complete at once. Get down on their level and look them in the eyes when you speak to them.
  4. Make Sure the Punishment Fits the Crime – Ask yourself, “is this punishment necessary or am I displacing my anger?” If your child has already been disciplined in school do they need an additional one at home?
  5. Discipline Early – The longer you wait to apply these parenting strategies, the more your child will have to unlearn.
  6. BONUS TIP: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Experienced experts can provide parents with behavioral management tools and offer educators child-specific classroom interventions – Call 646-539-2167 today for your FREE consultation.

Spence-Chapin’s Modern Family Center provides a holistic and personalized ADHD treatment plan for your child by partnering with parents, educators, school psychologists, and school counselors. We can help transform your child’s behavior and strengthen your entire family. Call 646-539-2167!

Older Child Adoption Resources

We know it can be difficult for families to find educational and supportive resources around the country. Here are organizations that are here to support adoptive families:

The Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) strengthens the well-being of foster and adoptive families, promotes adoption awareness, enhances adoption sensitivity, and develops the skills for professionals and families to empower children to thrive.
• Resources for Parents: http://adoptionsupport.org/education-resources/for-parents-families/
• Find an adoption competent therapist: http://adoptionsupport.org/member-types/adoption-competent-professionals/

• Annual conference
• Webinar series
• Adoption Subsidy and International Adoption

• Library of books about adoption: http://www.pactadopt.org/app/servlet/resourcelist.ResourceList

Creating A Family
• Online education and support groups for adoptive parents: https://creatingafamily.org/adoption/