Domestic Vs. International Home Studies

The home study is a necessary process for all adoptions both international and domestic. The process will include various background checks, home visits, education, and multiple other documentation needs. While many of these aspects will be similar whether an adoption is international or domestic, the needs of each will vary quite greatly. The main differences will be in the areas of education, documentation, and the requirements of the country from which one is adopting.


All adoptions will require some sort of education surrounding the area of adoption. For domestic adoption, a lot of this education will be centered on the value of open adoption, parenting an adopted child, and general classes on the adoption process. For international adoption, much of these subjects will not apply. This makes the education need very different. Education in an international adoption will likely involve education about the child’s home country, lessons on culture, and further education on what to expect during travel to the child’s home country. This education will vary based on the country from which you are adopting.


Many of the common pieces of documentation needed in domestic or international adoption will be related to federal guidelines. These will include but are not limited to identifying documents for each person in your family, financial reports, background checks, etc. For an international adoption, the documentation for your own travel and also the immigration of your child can be quite substantial. Adoption Network notes that families adopting internationally will need an immigration application and an international dossier. Adoption.com further notes that other countries may require

A more detailed income report. Domestic adoption requires your tax return, but international adoption may also require a notarized letter from your employer stating how long you have worked there, what your yearly pay is, and how secure your position is.

  • A notarized letter from your city or local police station stating that you are a citizen in good standing.
  • Background checks and fingerprints. This is the same requirement for a domestic home study.
  • One thing to note is that for some countries, every single paper you submit needs to be notarized or stamped by the office or agency verifying it for you.
  • At least 10+ hours of education training.”

Origin Country Requirements

While the United States has federal and state guidelines regulating international adoption, each country has its own set of laws and guidelines that control adoption from their country. Some countries will require that prospective adoptive parents obtain “pre-approval” to adopt from their country. Adoption.com notes,

Many countries require that a hopeful adoptive couple obtain a pre-approval before they are allowed to move forward with the adoption process. Pre-approval is a statement of intent to adopt from a certain country. Special forms must be filled out. An I-600A form is required for non-Hauge approved countries, and an I-800A form is for Hauge approved countries.”

Many countries are part of the Hauge Convention, which makes these guidelines more common and streamlined. As part of the home study, you will need to choose an adoption agency who will conduct and draft the home study report. In international adoption, you are required to have the home study conducted with an adoption agency that has Hague Accreditation. Adoption.com elaborates, stating,

Hauge Accreditation, also known as the Intercountry Adoption Act, was an international treaty put in place to protect children, biological families, and adoptive parents. Many strict regulations were put into place to prevent child trafficking in international adoptions. For an adoption agency to legally facilitate international adoptions, they must have completed the steps and training required to obtain this accreditation. This is why it is imperative that hopeful adoptive couples choose an agency with this accreditation.”