Quiet as it’s kept; celebrities like Madonna and Angelina Jolie are not above the law when it comes to international adoptions. Despite the way it appears, they do not pick up a son or daughter during a flying visit to a far off land. So how do they do it? The short answer is that they do it the same way as the rest of us. Every adoption starts with a pre-approval phase which involves a form called I-600A or I-800A, depending on whether or not the child’s country of origin is a signatory to the Hague Convention (an international law governing adoption.) Once this is completed, a child will be located; the court work completed and the visa application (either I-600 or I-800) will be filed at the U.S. Embassy.
Many international adoptions only require the physical presence of the adoptive parent in the child’s country for three or four days- an interview day with a social worker, a court date, a day to file the application with the embassy and an interview day. Unfortunately, these days rarely happen consecutively which means the adoptive parent will have to remain in the child’s home country for several weeks unless they have the funds available to them to make several trips. This is where the Madonnas and Angelina Jolies of the world do have a significant advantage. Although money and celebrity status will not help when it comes to US immigration law it may have certain advantages when it comes to abiding by the rules of the foreign country.
Many people wonder how Madonna successfully adopted from Malawi- a country that requires the adoptive parent to physically reside with the child for 18 months under the supervision of a Malawian social worker before an adoption can be granted. We all know that Madonna did not reside in Malawi while her adoption was pending. She was living in England working on a fake English accent. Luckily for her, she could afford to fly a social worker from Malawi periodically to evaluate her relationship with the baby she sought to adopt. A Malawian judge finalized her adoption after a year and a half of evaluations which no doubt included a finding that her marriage was stable and she was highly unlikely to leave her husband for a major league baseball player.