The dossier represents your official adoption application to adopt from a specific country. China and Bulgaria requires dossier documents require that it be verified at 3 levels. Philippines requires notarization only. Here is quick description of what each step entails.
- Notarization is the act of witnessing a signature by a notary public in accordance with specific state law. Most often, notarization involves signed documents and requires that notary public prove the signer€™s identity and/or willingness to sign the document. Note: some states have very specific language that is required for Notary Public certification. Please check with your Secretary of State€™s Notary Division for any special instructions.
- Certification confirms the authority of a public official – such as a Notary Public, County Clerk, or Judge – to act in a particular capacity in connection with a document that he or she has signed. The county or state where the notary public was commissioned will provide certification of that notarization. The authentication certificate will verify that the named public official and their position are a matter of record in the County or Secretary of State’s office. The certification will only be prepared if the official has in fact executed the document properly, and it can only be attached to a signed original or a certified copy from a public record keeper, such as a vital records officer.
- Please request €certifications€ or €authentications€ for your documents if you are adopting from China (not apostille). If adopting from Bulgaria or El Salvador, you must request an apostille. You must indicate the country of adoption when sending your documents for Certification.
- Please check with the Secretary of State for specific requirements in obtaining certifications. A comprehensive list of state authentication requirements is maintained by The Assistant Stork at: asststork.com.
- Birth and Marriage Certificates, and Divorce Decrees must be certified copies. A €certified copy€ is deemed to be the same as if it were notarized. Certified copies do not need to be notarized.
Authentication is the process in which the country you are adopting from reviews and puts their seal on each document.
There are two ways to receive the necessary China Authentications for your dossier documents.
- China Embassy, Washington D.C.
Documents certified through any State can be authenticated by the China Embassy. However, the China Embassy requires an additional step of the documents going through the U.S. Department of State-Authentication Office prior to going to the China Embassy.
(2) China Consulate
Each State falls under the jurisdiction of one of the China Consulates located in the United States. Documents must go to the appropriate China Consulate serving the specific state that certified the document. Documents authenticated through one of the Consulates do not need to go to the U.S. Department of State.
Listed below are the China Consulates and Embassy with the states served.
EMBASSY OF CHINA: DC, DE, ID, KY, MD, MT, NE, NC, ND, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, WV, WY
*Note: the China Embassy requires documents from these states be authenticated by the U.S. Department of State before receiving a China Authentication.
CHICAGO CONSULATE: CO, IL, IN, IO, KS, MI, MN, MO, WI
HOUSTON CONSULATE: AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, OK, TX
LOS ANGELES CONSULATE: AZ, Southern CA, HI, NM
*Note: the China Consulate in Los Angeles requires a letter from MAA to verify that you are clients working to complete an adoption from China. Contact MAA to request this letter before sending your documents to be authenticated.
NEW YORK CONSULATE: CT, ME, MA, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VT
SAN FRANCISCO: AK, Northern CA, NV, OR, WA
Addresses for each Consulate or Embassy, as well as courier services available, can be found at www.asststork.com/pages/consulate.html
When sending documents for certification or authentication, we recommend using a trackable mail service (FedEx, UPS, etc.). Check the applicable websites for a required request form; if there is no request form, include a cover letter stating your full name, phone number, country of adoption, and number of documents enclosed. Enclose a certified check/money order for the required fees, and a pre-paid return envelope for the documents to be sent back to you.
Before sending your documents, please verify the mail services accepted by the facility. Not all state offices or foreign offices accept mail-in documents and you may need to hire a local courier to walk-in your documents. Some facilities accept only certain overnight mail services.
Sample Notary Public certification language:
State of _______________
County of _____________
Subscribed and sworn to before me this day of , 20____
by ________________________________________ who is:
£ personally known to me.
£ produced their _____________________________ as identification.
My Commission expires:_____________
IMPORTANT: Staples, grommets, rivets, ribbons, stickers, seals, etc. that are used to attach documents and authentication pages must not be removed when making copies of your dossier paperwork. Any alterations or modifications to documents will cause them to be rejected by China.
Double-check your Dossier Documents!
- Date of notary signature should match the date of the letter.
- All documents/signatures should reflect the full legal names of the parents.
- The notary stamp and statement should appear on the page that is being notarized.
- Notaries and licenses must be valid for at least 3-4 months after your paperwork is submitted.
- MAA MUST review a copy of your notarized documents (via fax or email) for accuracy before the certification steps. This will help avoid costly and time-consuming authentications for documents that are not correctly prepared.
- Notaries must use their raised seal and/or stamp. Please verify what is required of notaries by the state of commission. Please also verify that your notary signs his/her name exactly as it is registered by the Secretary of State.