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JoWrites
06-29-2010, 07:58 PM
Hi, everyone,
Here's the situation I WANT to have happen...just not sure I CAN have it, legally speaking. :)

A 15 y-o girl from Ireland comes to stay with a family in the US through a program that gets kids out of Belfast during July, when trouble can sometimes break out. (I know THIS can happen...my family has done this.) But...she comes from a sad situation -- she has a drug-addicted mother who ends up dying. The only other relative she has is a grandmother who can be of no help due to medical issues. The family she stayed with in the US wants to adopt her and the girl wants this as well. How can I make this happen so it's believable and legal?

Thanks so much!

shaldna
06-29-2010, 08:51 PM
well, several things here.

1. there is very little trouble in belfast in july. the holidays are now promoted as a tourist experience. be very careful of painting NI as a dangerous place to live.

2.adoption doesn't work that way. i know that in the states there is a private adoption option, but we simply do not have that here. the placement for adoption is a long and complicated one, and following a situation like the death of the only parent, social services would do all they could to stabilise things for the child. this means that they would want to keep her in her school and around her friends etc as much as possible.

if her grandmother was the only relative and she was incapable of looking after the child, then she would be placed in care. this could be a group home or a placement with a foster family depending on circumstances etc.

even if the american family were able to adopt her, which is so unlikely as to be virtually impossible, they will still have to go through the whole vetting process that anyone hoping to adopt a child must go through. This approval process can take anything from a year to two years, and because it's international, the couple must be approved by the relevant bodies in the states and in Ireland, and bear in mind that approval from one does not mean you'll be approved by the other.

subject to approval of the parents as being suitable, then the case of the child is considered, here they look at the needs of the child, culture, religion etc in order to place the child with the most suitable family. international adopion tends to be more difficult with older children, as social services are extremely unwilling to remove an older child from thier environment and place them somewhere new and strange as they find it more difficult to adapt.

now, lets say that against all probability that the american parents are approved, and that the girl is allowed to stay with them. they don't get to adopt her straight away. oh no, there is a period of foster care first, during which they will all be monitored to see how things are going.

so, long story short, no, it's not going to be realistic because that's just not how adoption works here. the child is placed with teh most suitable family for her needs, and at her age it would be undesirable for her to leave the country

jclarkdawe
06-29-2010, 09:18 PM
Depends on how much they want to spend and how legal they want to make it. I'm assuming that there is no money involved here on the child or her mother's part.

1) The child presumably came over with a power of attorney from her mother. This POA should allow the guardians to make medical, school, and other similar decisions. Technically, the POA becomes invalid when the mother dies. But your guardians don't have to mention that. The only time someone is likely to question this is if they knew the mother had died. But how are people going to find out the mother died?

This approach assumes everybody is in agreement. Cost to accomplish is zero. Given the age of the child (15), this would be my initial suggestion. It's not legal, but most likely would work fine.

2) A little more legal would be for the grandmother to give the guardians a POA, in essence being the same as the one the mother gave. This would require an Irish attorney (and you need to find out how the Irish have this set up -- like the English or the US) and cost would probably be under $500.

3) If you want to be completely legal, and have a good chunk of money, the guardians would file in the Irish county of which the mother was a residence, bringing with them a release from the grandmother and proof of the lack of other family members. As well as a crap load of references that Mother Theresa would not be as good a choice. Expenses would easily go into the five figures. Distinct possibility she turns eighteen before this gets done. In the US, INS becomes involved, and may require her to return to Ireland until everything goes through.

Biggest problem the guardians are going to have is her immigration status. If she has prior authority from INS to stay in the US during her minority until graduating high school, you get around this problem. After she turns eighteen, she applies to stay in the US as her own legal guardian.

Again, given her age, I'd try sliding rather than going legal. She's got less than three years before she turns eighteen. Once she turns eighteen, the adoption in Ireland can go through a lot easier, although with INS backlogs, it doesn't get you a whole lot. Right at the moment, I think there's a backlog of several years before a US parent can get a foreign child made into a US citizen. She'd probably do just as well applying from the US for her green card as an adult.

Having just read Shaldna's response, I'd go even stronger on the say nothing approach. From the sounds of it, there's no way either INS or the Irish child protection services are going to allow her to stay in the US until the adoption goes though. I'd say nothing about the death of the mother (governments do not automatically know that when someone dies that there is a child) and just hope no one notices. Without the INS complication, I know a couple of kids who've slid through the system like this.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

JoWrites
06-29-2010, 09:34 PM
Thank you both for excellent insights and opinion. :)

Keyan
06-29-2010, 09:39 PM
Hi, everyone,
Here's the situation I WANT to have happen...just not sure I CAN have it, legally speaking. :)

A 15 y-o girl from Ireland comes to stay with a family in the US through a program that gets kids out of Belfast during July, when trouble can sometimes break out. (I know THIS can happen...my family has done this.) But...she comes from a sad situation -- she has a drug-addicted mother who ends up dying. The only other relative she has is a grandmother who can be of no help due to medical issues. The family she stayed with in the US wants to adopt her and the girl wants this as well. How can I make this happen so it's believable and legal?

Thanks so much!

I think Jim's on to something. The question is, do you need her to be legally adopted or de facto in the care of the US family?

If the kid is back in Ireland when her mother dies, her grandmother becomes her legal guardian. Then the girl applies to go to the US on a student visa with the US family as her local guardians. (The student visa shouldn't be much of a problem if the US family sponsor her and cover all her expenses.) This would need to be renewed annually, I think, but in itself would not be a problem. So she de facto lives with and in the charge of her local guardians.

When she's 18, she goes to college, again on a student visa. At some point, she applies for permanent residence and then citizenship. Her foster parents can adopt her at any point thereafter as the US permits adult adoption. (Don't know what the Irish laws are.)

JoWrites
06-29-2010, 09:47 PM
You guys are awesome.

shaldna
06-29-2010, 10:08 PM
i would go ith jim on this one. also, in terms of adoption, while you can adopt up to the age of 18, it's not common practice to allow adoption of a child over sixteen unless it's to a step parent, the reason being that here 16 year olds can legally live on thier own, get full time jobs etc so can be self sufficient. this is actually the preffered method for children who have been in the foster system for a long time.

and it's very slow, as jim rightly pointed out. it's also very intrusive, not only for you, but for your family and those people around you, and it might not be a good idea to have people asking too many questions.

the issue you would have then would be the imigration status

waylander
06-29-2010, 10:16 PM
Many kids over here are kicked out of the care system when they turn 16. The money to the foster carers stops, they are put into bed+breakfast accommodation and then it is sink or swim.

Tsu Dho Nimh
06-29-2010, 11:22 PM
Hi, everyone,
Here's the situation I WANT to have happen...just not sure I CAN have it, legally speaking. :)

A 15 y-o girl from Ireland comes to stay with a family in the US through a program that gets kids out of Belfast during July, when trouble can sometimes break out. (I know THIS can happen...my family has done this.) But...she comes from a sad situation -- she has a drug-addicted mother who ends up dying. The only other relative she has is a grandmother who can be of no help due to medical issues. The family she stayed with in the US wants to adopt her and the girl wants this as well. How can I make this happen so it's believable and legal?

One thing they would be able to do is get her visa extended "for compassionate reasons" to let her stay here legally. It would take the grandmother's permission, and the intervention of the family's congressman or senator and the State Department and the Irish Embassy and the local child welfare services to make it all happen.

That gets her an extension, but she's still an Irish citizen and when she is 18 she has to go back to Ireland and apply for a US visa as an adult.

But wanting to stay in a foreign country, for a 15 year old, is unlikely. She has friends and a culture, even if she has no relatives. I'd have a hard time with that plot, because no matter how nice the family might be, it's not home.

jclarkdawe
06-29-2010, 11:31 PM
I want to supplement my answer a bit on the before the mother dies part.

You don't address in your original post whether she comes to the US for a summer vacation or for schooling. If she's just here for a summer vacation, she would have a return ticket to Ireland and a definitive and short period she can stay in the US. Unless your book is going to be about the adoption process and dealing with this issue, she's going to be returned to Ireland on that ticket. And you're going to need to do a whole lot more research than this forum is going to provide you with.

However, if she came to the US as a student, you're problems become rather simple. But the original set up matters. The girl and her mother have to go to the US consulate and apply for a F-1 student visa. They would need for her to be accepted by a school (she could go to a public school, but she would be a tuition student) and to have a host family (because she is a minor). Paperwork gets filled out and mom has to sign a bunch of forms.

The F-1 runs for the duration of her schooling until she graduates. I don't think there is an annual refiling that would require mom's signature. If she gets accepted by a US college upon graduation from high school, INS would almost automatically give her a new F-1 for her college education. But by that point, she would be eighteen and wouldn't need her mother's signature.

By the way, I've never heard of a hospital that asked if the parent was alive when presented with a POA for a minor.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

waylander
06-30-2010, 12:35 AM
That gets her an extension, but she's still an Irish citizen and when she is 18 she has to go back to Ireland and apply for a US visa as an adult.



If she's from Belfast, she's a British citizen

JoWrites
06-30-2010, 02:37 AM
Thanks so much for giving me a lot to think about. It seemed like such a simple premise. :) But you've all brought up great, solid points. The 15 year-old will end up with the US family. Now I just have to make it realistic, believable and legal.
Thanks to you all!

shaldna
06-30-2010, 11:50 AM
If she's from Belfast, she's a British citizen


No. Sorry to break it to you, but some of us AREN'T british citizens.

Northern Ireland is one of the few places where you can choose your nationality. You can hold british or irish citizenship, or both. I have a british driving licence but an Irish passport. So what does that make me?

waylander
06-30-2010, 12:54 PM
An EU citizen

shaldna
06-30-2010, 01:50 PM
An EU citizen


yeah. lol. i guess.

anyway, the issue here is that because of the dual nationality and the somewhat unique situations in northern ireland, alot of our legisaltion, including adoption procedures etc, are devloved matters. this means that we set out own laws which are adpated to suit our circumstances.

GeorgeK
06-30-2010, 05:57 PM
It wouldn't have to be legal, just believable.

"Yeah, well the government says I have to go back, but they haven't sent me any plane tickets, so I figured I'd just wait and see.

autumnleaf
06-30-2010, 07:52 PM
If she overstays her visa, she effectively becomes an illegal immigrant. If she leaves the U.S. the date of her visa stamp will be noticed. She would probably be allowed to leave but forbidden from entering the U.S. again.

Is the story set in the current day, or during the NI Troubles (late '60s - mid '90s)?