International Adoptions and Adoption Subsidies

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Many adoptive parents of special needs children ask whether the Federal Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) is available for children adopted from other countries.

Disqualifying Factors

In most cases, children adopted internationally do not meet the eligibility requirements of the Federal Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Program. In fact, section 8.2.B.6 from the federal Child Welfare Policy Manual states that the following reasons make it highly improbable, if not virtually impossible, that a child adopted through an intercountry adoption will meet the Title IV-E adoption assistance requirements.

"The Federal adoption assistance program under Title IV-E was intended to provide permanency for children with special needs in public foster care by assisting States in providing ongoing financial and medical assistance to the families who adopt them. As a result, the statutory requirements for Title IV-E adoption assistance eligibility are geared to needy children in public child welfare systems and are difficult, if not impossible, to apply to children who are adopted from abroad. Therefore, although the statute does not categorically exclude these children from participation in the Title IV-E adoption assistance program, it is highly improbable that children who are adopted abroad by U.S. citizens, or are brought into the U.S. from another country for the purpose of adoption, will meet the criteria in section 473 of the Social Security Act (the Act) for Title IV-E adoption assistance eligibility.

In addition to meeting the three-part criteria for special needs in section 473 (c) of the Act, to be eligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance, a child also must be eligible in one of the following manners:

1. Eligible for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) at the time of the voluntary placement agreement or court removal petition, and considered a dependent child at the time of the adoption petition;

2. Eligible for Supplemental Security Income in the month the adoption petition is filed; or

3. Foster care costs of the child are being covered by title IV-E foster care maintenance payments being made for his or her minor parent in foster care.

Children who are adopted abroad, or are brought into the U.S. from other countries for the purpose of adoption, are not:

*AFDC-eligible in their own homes (AFDC was a domestic program and therefore not available on behalf of children in their own homes in another country);
*SSI-eligible in the month the adoption petition is filed (SSI cannot be established at the time the adoption petition is filed since a child who is adopted from another country cannot meet either the Social Security Administration's alien eligibility requirement or its "presence in the U.S." rule (requiring that an individual who has been outside the U.S. for 30 consecutive days must be present in the U.S. for 30 consecutive days to be eligible for SSI). The Child Citizenship Act of 2000, Public Law 106-395, impacts neither the SSI eligibility for children who are adopted from abroad nor the Title IV-E adoption assistance eligibility for these children); or
*Eligible as a result of their minor parent's receipt of Title IV-E foster care maintenance payments.

The above cited reasons, as well as the criteria that the child must meet in order to determine whether a child meets the definition of special needs make it highly improbable, if not virtually impossible, that a child adopted through an intercountry adoption will be eligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance. Although it is highly improbable that children adopted through an intercountry adoption will meet the Title IV-E adoption assistance requirements, States cannot in policy categorically exclude these children from consideration since the statute does not authorize such an exclusion.

Nonrecurring Adoption Expenses

Although internationally adopted children do not typically qualify for the monthly payments and Medicaid through the Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Program, they may-at state option- qualify for nonrecurring expenses. The child need only meet their state's legal definition of special needs.

Specifically, this means that the State has determined that an effort to place without assistance has been made, and the state cannot or should not return the child to the biological home. Again, these requirements may preclude children adopted internationally from receiving benefits.

NACAC is aware of 18 states that may pay non-recurring adoption expenses for internationally adopted children. These include:

Alabama
Kansas New Hampshire
Alaska
Maryland
Ohio
Hawaii
Michigan
Oklahoma
Idaho
Minnesota
South Carolina
Indiana
Mississippi
South Dakota
Iowa
Nebraska
Vermont

The following 16 states will not reimburse for nonrecurring expenses or indicate that international adoptees are "typically not eligible":

California
Missouri
Utah
Colorado
Nevada
Virginia
Connecticut
New Jersey
Washington
District of Columbia
North Dakota
Wisconsin
Georgia
Pennsylvania
Louisiana
South Dakota

The following 17 states make no mention of nonrecurring expenses, so parents need to check with the state directly:

Arizona
Maine
Oregon
Arkansas
Massachusetts
Rhode Island
Delaware
Montana
Tennessee
Florida
New Mexico
West Virginia
Illinois
New York
Wyoming
Kentucky
North Carolina

NACAC encourages all families to apply for adoption subsidy benefits if they believe their children meet eligibility criteria.
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