When I was in high school, I strongly felt that all the mathematics I was learning were completely useless and would never be applied to my life. Before we discuss adoptions at all, let’s go back to St. Louis School in Kiltimagh, Ireland where I learned about permutations, combinations and sequences.  My teacher, Mrs. Groarke Murphy explained that a fruit salad is a mix of among other things grapes, strawberries and cantaloupe. It doesn’t matter in what order we add our ingredients.  But, if we have a pin number for an ATM card and the number is 4-5-6 then the order is extremely important. If the order doesn’t matter then we have a combination, if the order does matter then we have a permutation. (I’m adding a link to Ms. Groarke Murphy’s Rate My Teacher page to prove that I’m not making this stuff up.)


Non-Hague adoptions are like fruit salad.  It doesn’t matter when you complete the steps so long as they are all complete at the time you file your visa application. A typical Non-Hague adoption will look like this:


  1. Select primary provider.
  2. Get home study.
  3. File I-600A
  4. Locate child
  5. Apply for guardianship.
  6. File form I-600


So what if you find a child, get guardianship, do a home study and file form I-600 only? That’s fine! Or how about if you do a home study, find a child, file Form I-600A, then select a primary provider? That’s fine too. The point I am making is that legally, it does not matter what order you complete the steps in as long as you complete all of the steps. In fact, I have filed many orphan petitions for families who have had legal custody for years before they even got a home study or decided to emigrate the child to the US.


A Hague adoption is a “combination” case. You have to complete the correct steps in the right order. Your case will be denied if you don’t. So in a Hague case, you must do the following, in the following order:


1. Select primary provider.

2. Get home study.

3. File form I-800A

4. Be matched with a child. (Article 16 report)

5. Obtain advance permission for a visa (Article 5 letter)

5. Get legal custody.

6. Obtain visa.


If you perform any step out of order, you will often be required to un-do one or more steps and start the process over. The order of the steps is extremely important.