When adopting a child overseas, it is extremely important to understand the status of your child's adoption and the home state's requirements for re-adoption. Whether or not a child is adopted under an IR-3 or IR-4 visa is the beginning of that understanding. An IR-4 visa requires that the child be re-adopted in the United States; whereas, an IR-3 visa does not require re-adoption in the United States. IR-3 visas are only issued by overseas consulates, where the complete adoption proceeding has occurred in the other country, and the parents have been present to see the child in the country of adoption.
With IR-4 visas, a child is admitted to the United States under immigrant status and their citizenship cannot be established until a formal re-adoption has occurred in the United States establishing a permanent connection with the adoptive parents. Children admitted to the United States under IR-3 visas become United States citizens when they enter the country with their adoptive parents. As a result, children who are in the United States under an IR-4 visa are not afforded the complete protection of the United States and may not have the same legal or inheritance rights that IR-4 visa children have.
In addition to basic legal rights, there are some convenience issues also wrapped into re-adoption. When a family chooses to re-adopt their child in the United States after an overseas adoption, the family will receive a United States adoption decree and birth certificate. The certificates will always be available through the vital statistics department and are much easier to access than international decrees. Also, the child's legal name can be changed and established during a re-adoption. The new birth certificate will list the adoptive parents as the child's legal parents. Although an international birth certificate will be accepted in the United States, an English written birth certificate with easier access certainly makes life easier in the long run when signing up for school, sports and other activities.
States vary on whether or not an international adoption decree will be accepted, so it pays to know your state. Some states require a re-adoption of an overseas adoptee where other states may allow re-adoption, but don't have specific requirements. Generally, Florida recognizes decrees granting legal guardianship, termination of parental rights and adoption given by foreign countries and other states. The re-adoption of the adoptee will fall under the specific laws set forth in the Florida Adoption Statutes.