In the adoption community, the term "orphan" is used nearly exclusive with the legal process of international adoption. An orphan is a child whose biological parents are deceased or have terminated their parental rights. In order for a couple to adopt a child from overseas, the child must qualify as an orphan by U.S. and their country of origin's standards. The U.S. Embassy in some countries have already implemented programs that can confirm a child's orphan status more efficiently than other countries.
Potential problems that an adopter can face in the process of getting a child orphan status is if a child's parents are living and married. In this case, a child must be officially abandoned by one of the parents and then voluntarily placed for adoption with an orphanage by the other parent. This is in order to meet the "sole parent" requirement by U.S. standards.
To get an adopted child a visa, adoptive parents must bring an I-600 form, a petition that will classify a child as an orphan. It will cost a few hundred dollars to file this form and receive a visa.
Additional documentation that confirm the child's stay in an orphanage may also be needed. For example, a death certificate of the child's parents or proof of unconditional abandonment of the child to an orphanage.
International adoptions of children in orphanages also come with a standard philanthropic donation to the orphanage. This can range from a request for goods or a monetary gift, the latter of which is more likely.