Background Checks

Background clearances were part of the list I posted last week of paperwork needed for our international adoption. Clearances are needed for any adoption, though the state you live in may have different laws regarding the depth of the investigation. Our process to gain clearance is about double that of domestic adoption. A Hague Convention adoption requires that we do a more exhaustive background check.

Needed documentation for clearance

  • State/FBI Background Check ~$38 each
    • Electronic Fingerprinting ~$???
  • State/FBI Gold Seal Letter Clearance ~$19 each
  • Police Certificate from the United Kingdom for M ~ £45 ($75)

I am unsure what exactly the Gold Seal Letter is, but what our social worker could tell me is that it is a more in-depth background check on each of us on top of the normal clearances. After they are processed by our local adoption agency, the official Gold Seal Letters will be sent with the dossier to South Africa.

As for having to get international clearance, this is particularly because we are adopting through the Hague convention. I studied abroad for a single semester in the United Kingdom while in undergraduate. As I was over the age of eighteen, I am required by the Hague Adoption Convention to get clearance or show proof of attempting to receive clearance from any country I resided in. Despite not actually living there permanently, I was told that a study abroad did, in fact, count.

What’s a woman to do?

Very few people may have to go through this process, but here is what I have done so far:

I called the nearest UK embassy/consulate and, after figuring out the decidedly tricky automated options, got through to a live assistant. I explained the services I was looking for and why. She was very surprised as she had never received such a request before. The United Kingdom does not appear to have an agency similar to the United States’ Child Protective Services. She told me my best bet was to contact the local police station of the area where I stayed and ask them for further assistance.

My mobile phone does not call internationally, so I played around with the police website until finding the proper online form I could fill out if I had an inquiry or issue I needed help with. That was last Monday, August 4th. Yesterday, someone at the police station got back to me with a link for a Police Certificate. Expensive to get, but available for citizens of foreign countries. The paperwork is a little odd to me. In addition to filling out the personal information and including a copy of my passport, I must also provide a passport-like photo signed by person of a respectable occupation who has known me for two or more years. The only way to pay for this service is either by UK cheque, UK postal order, bankers draft, or bank transfer. I’m unsure whether or not I have access to the first two here in the States, so I am going to look into how I do either of the second two internationally – something I have never done before.

Aside from letting you now how this all turns out later, time-wise, stress-wise, etc., I’ll share some of the information our social worker gave us on the clearances.

  • State/FBI clearances generally take 30-45 days.
  • Clearances are only good for a period of one year. If they expire while we are waiting, we will most likely be required to update them before a match is made.
  • Clearances have to be sent directly to the agency; they cannot pass through our hands, though we are allowed to ask to look at them.
  • Our background checks will need to complete or nearing completion before we move on to our last home study meetings.

All in all, we are not worried about the process. But hopefully this helps demystify what is required.



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