Adopting a Bangladeshi child from Bangladesh

Anyone adopting a Bangladeshi child from Bangladesh in USA? I don’t know any family who has adopted a child from Bangladesh except Senator John McCain who has an adopted daughter of Bangladeshi origin. But there must be some families out there. What are their stories? Are Bangladeshis living abroad are interested in adoption? I watched few wonderful documentaries on international adoption issues — The Dark Matter of Love (2012), Somewhere Between (2011), Daughter from Danang (2002), First Person Plural (2000) — adoption stories from Russia, China, Vietnam, and Korea respectively. But found no stories so far from Bangladesh except an old newspaper article of 1973.

Well, adopting Bangladeshi child from Bangladesh is not like adopting a child from China, Vietnam, Korea, Ukraine, Russia, Ethiopia, Congo, Guatemala or other countries. Child adoption is not common practice among Bangladeshis for three main reasons. In short they are:

  • As a Muslim country, Islamic law does not accept ‘adoption’ as such but offers ‘guardianship’, a similar provision for the caring of an orphan.
  • Like many Asian countries, Bangladesh tends to value blood-related parenthood more highly. Parents’ blood lineage with children is considered more important in the society.
  • Bangladesh law does not permit non-Bangladeshi citizens to be the legal guardian of children. Only Bangladeshi citizen by born or a Bangladeshi citizen who is also by naturalized citizen of a foreign country can obtain guardianship of a Bangladeshi child.

That does not mean adopting a Bangladeshi child is not possible. In USA, adopting a Bangladeshi child from Bangladesh is only possible by Bangladeshi-American citizens. Bangladesh is not a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. Bangladeshi law does not allow for full adoptions of Bangladeshi children. Therefore, Bangladeshi-Americans considering adoption of Bangladeshi children must obtain guardianship from a Bangladeshi court and subsequently adopt the child in the United States.

In the past 16 years, more than 260,000 children have come to the United States to join their families through international adoption (also called intercountry adoption). But child adoption from Bangladesh is relatively very low in the USA. From 1999–2015, only 173 children came to the USA. In 2015, only nine children were adopted from Bangladesh.

Children adoption of Bangladeshi origin in USA, 1999–2015
Rashid Md said…’I am Bangladeshi living in Italy. Me and my wife interested in adopting a baby girl.’

***

Sarah said…’I am interested in adopting a baby girl around in December/early January. I am Bangladeshi living in Philadelphia. If you could give me your phone number and a way to contact you. I would appreciate.’

Now, for various reasons the scenario has been changing. Although actual data is sparse, there are some Bangladeshi-American families want to adopt children from Bangladesh. Organizations like Hope International, even started a Bangladesh specific adoption program to help the willing parents. Anyone interested in adopting a Bangladeshi child may find following information useful.

The U.S. law requires that every international adoption follows certain procedures. Most adoptions have the following steps:

〉〉 Selecting your adoption service provider
 〉〉 Gaining approval to adopt
 〉〉 Being matched with a child
 〉〉 Adopting or obtaining legal custody of the child in the foreign country
 〉〉 Applying for a visa for the child to move to the United States, and
 〉〉 Traveling home with your child.

Qualifications for adopting a Bangladeshi child from Bangladesh

U.S. Requirements:

  1. You must be a U.S. citizen. If you are married, your spouse must also be either a U.S. citizen or have legal status in the United States.
  2. If you are unmarried, you must be at least 25 years old.

Bangladesh Requirement:

  1. Citizenship: Prospective guardians must provide proof of Bangladeshi citizenship.
  2. Age: Prospective Adoptive Parents must be at least 18 years old; Bangladeshi law does not specify a maximum age for adopting parents.
  3. Gender: Both married and single persons may adopt. Bangladesh does not recognize same-sex marriage.
  4. Income: Bangladesh law does not establish a minimum income requirement for guardians. However, a prospective guardian must prove to the Family Court judge that he/she is able to feed, shelter, and educate the child.
  5. Guardianship: Bangladeshi law does not allow for final adoptions of Bangladeshi children in Bangladesh. Prospective adoptive parents considering adopting a Bangladeshi child must obtain guardianship from a Bangladeshi court and subsequently adopt the child in the United States.

In Country Provider: You need a licensed attorney in Bangladesh who has experience and capable of dealing with legal and bureaucratic steps. Also need reputable orphanages where the children live in.

Time Frame: Depending on many different factors, including the number of eligible children at the time of your availability to travel to Bangladesh, the time frame to prepare your initial paperwork and be matched with a child can take 5–12 months.

The Children: The children available for adoption in Bangladesh are usually orphaned due to poverty or the stigma of being an unwed mother. The youngest children available for international adoption from Bangladesh are 1–2 months old. There are also older children, sibling groups, and children with special needs living in government orphanages.

Process of adopting from Bangladesh

You first select your adoption service provider/agency in USA and have a general information meeting with them. It can be done in person or via telephone if your service provider is out of state. After the meeting, you sign the contracts and pay the initial agency fees. Your service agency then will help you with a home study or biographical history of the adoptive family, USCIS processing, adoption dossier or collection of documents, notarization, verification, certification and translations of documents required by Bangladesh.

Step 1: Complete Home Study

The home study is a biographical history of the adoptive couple. Your adoption agency will send social worker to work with you. If you are out of state, your agency can help you to find a Hague approved agency in your state to complete your home study program. Your final USCIS approval is contingent upon the recommendation for approval given by your home study agent. This entire process takes 4 to 8 weeks to complete, depending on your availability and timeliness in submitting your paperwork to the agency. Your completed home study is valid for 12 months; an update will be necessary annually until a child is placed in your home and is also required if your living circumstances change prior to your adoption; such as change in employment or residence. You are also required to obtain at least ten hours of pre-adoptive training.

Step 2: Apply to USCIS

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must pre-approved you as potential adoptive parents in regards to an international adoption in Bangladesh. Your adoption agency will assist you by submitting an I-600A application to USCIS on your behalf once your home study is completed. USCIS has to approve your ability to provide proper parental care for a child. Your USCIS approval will be valid for 18 months, and your fingerprints will be valid for 15 months.

Step 3: Complete Dossier

Dossier is a list of documents (birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc). Many of the documents are the same as the documents you are collecting for your home study.

Once you have completed the home study and submitted your petition to USCIS then you are ready to work on the remainder of your dossier documents. Your dossier consists of all the documents necessary for processing your adoption in Bangladesh. Your adoption agency should assist you as you gather all the necessary documents. They should go over the preparation of your dossier in detail and will send all your documents for authentication (notarization) as needed. Once you receive USCIS approval then your dossier is ready to go to Bangladesh for translation.

Step 4: Child Referral

Once your dossier is complete and you have received notification of your USCIS approval; you are ready for a child referral. The referral consists of a picture of the child, bio-data and medical information provided by orphanage director in Bangladesh. Information regarding birth parents may be minimal, if available at all!

During the home study process, you will have clarified the type of child you feel most equipped to parent. It is important to be honest with identifying the child you would like to adopt. It is helpful to take an inventory of your child preferences and to prioritize the most important characteristics (i.e. sex, age, health status, etc.) Please be advised that if your list of criteria is too restrictive, you may significantly narrow your referral options.

You adoption agency may require you to have the information evaluated by a doctor in USA who is skilled in evaluating international adoption referrals. You will also be given the untranslated documents so you can obtain your own translation if you desire. If you are comfortable with your doctor’s evaluation then you will notify your agency to proceed with an adoption of that particular child. You will have at least two weeks to consider the referral information.

Step 5: Referral Acceptance and Travel

Trip One: If married, both parents must travel. Once you have met and accepted a child referral, your paperwork will be submitted for that child.

Trip Two: Only one parent is required to make this second trip — the non-traveling parent must authorize him/her with notarized Power of Attorney, to represent both of them in all procedures during the contact, signing documents and immigration procedures for visa. Once the decision from the Bangladeshi court goes in force, then travel arrangements will be made for you to return to Bangladesh for your visa interview at the US Embassy in Dhaka. The time between trip one and trip two will vary depending on a variety of circumstances — you can tentatively expect 2–3 months between the two trips.

Before you request a visa appointment the child’s new birth certificate and passport must be obtained as well as No Objection Certificate. Then you complete the DS-260 Visa form and submit to the US Embassy in Dhaka for an interview. Once you have a scheduled appointment but prior to the visa appointment, the child must obtain a visa medical exam at an approved clinic in Bangladesh. The Embassy must receive the full package with medical information from the clinic prior to the visa interview at the US Embassy.

Step 6: Preparing to Travel

You must have a valid US Passport and perhaps a visa to travel to Bangladesh. Some immunizations are recommended by the CDC to travel to Bangladesh. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by a guide appointed by your adoption agency and led through each step of the adoption process.

Step 7: Post-Placement Supervision

When you return to USA, your home study agency will provide post-placement supervision as required by your state of residence so that your adoption can be finalized. A post-placement supervision is when the social worker visits the home to discuss how you and your child are adjusting as a new family and writing a report of the visit. At the completion of the initial six-month post placement period, you will be ready to proceed with your adoption. You adoption agency will help facilitate this process. You can also contact a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (AAAA)regarding the completion of a registration or re-adoption in your state. A child who is legally adopted in the United States automatically becomes a U.S. citizen.

Costs of Adopting from Bangladesh:

The cost of international adopting varies depending on agency fee, application fee, home study fee, court fee, traveling and other expenses. However, it is advised to have between $20,000 to $40,000. Adoption from Bangladesh could be on the lower end. Some families might be qualified for adoption tax credit or adoption assistance provided by states in the USA. Here is a general estimate of costs of international adoption provided by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Final Thoughts:

  • Bangladesh should make adoption law easier to adopt children from Bangladesh by the international community — not only by Bangladeshi citizens abroad. As nature of adoption is becoming more diverse in the United States and other courtiers, it may be a high time for Bangladesh should implement a uniform adoption law that enables abandoned and homeless children to find new parents, security, love, happiness and bright future. There are many bureaucratic hassles to get the clearance for taking the adopted child abroad. There is also a growing demand for changing of adoption law in Bangladesh.
  • Bangladeshis living abroad donate money to orphanages, mosques, schools and other social causes. Adoption can be a new way to go if possible and affordable. Millions of children in Bangladesh need a better life, not just a place in an orphanage.
  • Besides Kinship/Relative adoption, Bangladeshis can also venture out adopting children from other countries!
  • It would be great to know about Bangladeshi communities experience with their adoption. Any storytellers? bloggers? writers? documentarians?

Originally published at www.bangladeshcircle.com on May 14, 2016.

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