What are Michigan state laws regarding adoption from other countries?

Understanding Michigan State Laws for International Adoption

Adopting a child from another country, known as international or intercountry adoption, can be a complex process that involves navigating laws at both the federal and state levels. In Michigan, prospective adoptive parents must adhere to the regulations set forth by the Michigan Adoption Code as well as comply with federal legislation and the laws of the child's country of origin.

Federal and International Regulations

Before delving into state-specific regulations, it's important to note that all international adoptions by U.S. citizens must comply with the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, if the child's country is a member of this international agreement. The U.S. Department of State plays a significant role in the oversight of this process.

Michigan's Adoption Process

In Michigan, the Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) oversees adoptions. Prospective parents must complete a home study conducted by a licensed adoption agency. This study assesses their suitability to adopt and includes background checks, interviews, and home visits. Post-adoption supervision is also required for a specific period, as mandated by Michigan law and the child's country of origin.

After completing these steps, parents can proceed with finalizing the adoption in Michigan courts. The court will ensure that all international and state requirements have been met before issuing an adoption order.

The Role of Accredited Agencies

Michigan law requires that international adoptions are facilitated by agencies accredited under the Hague Convention or approved by a recognized accrediting entity. These agencies guide parents through the complexities of international adoption laws and procedures.

Re-Adoption in Michigan

Although not always mandatory, many families choose to go through a re-adoption process in Michigan after completing an international adoption. Re-adoption provides a U.S.-issued birth certificate for the adopted child and helps ensure that their legal status is recognized throughout all states.

Historical Reference: The Case of DeBoer v. Schmidt

An example highlighting the complexities of adoption law is the case of DeBoer v. Schmidt, commonly known as the 'Baby Jessica' case from 1993. Although this was a domestic case, it underscored the importance of understanding legal parental rights and adoption procedures, which are equally critical in international adoptions.


Prospective adoptive parents in Michigan must carefully navigate both federal and state laws when adopting internationally. It is crucial to work with accredited agencies and legal professionals specializing in adoption law to ensure compliance with all legal requirements and to secure the welfare of the adopted child.