Tortillas, burritos, quesadilla, and taco- these are among the many iconic foods that Mexico has contributed to the culinary world. And it’s not limited to that, the country is also home to two world-renowned artists, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. These artists’ works include vibrant colors and clearly are depictions of life in Mexico – festive and fun, as practiced by the very family-oriented and respectful Mexican people. Mexico as a country is very beautiful, but so are its people that include the children raised by their lovely families and those that grow up in orphanages or foster care. Also, being born in the lineage of world-famous artists, there isn’t a doubt about the potential of these children, especially if they are raised well in a family that can sustain their needs, and ultimately, shower them with love and care.
The international adoption process of Mexico follows the pattern set by The Hague Adoption Convention, and thus, with the right support from accredited and licensed service providers or adoption agencies, it is very navigable. The process involves:
1) choosing and signing in an accredited adoption service provider or agency,
2) submitting an application for the intent to adopt,
3) selecting or matching with a child,
4) applying for the child’s eligibility for immigration,
5) obtaining legal custody of the child, and lastly,
6) obtaining an immigrant visa for the child.
The entire process should take approximately a year up to three years. The adoption cost in Mexico ranges from $20,000 to $40,000.
International adoption in Mexico is governed by the designated central authorities, namely the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores, Dirección de Derecho de Familia or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Family Law Office or the SRE, the Desarollo Integral de la Familia or the National System for Family Development offices or the DIF. They provide rigid monitoring of all the adoption process that should be explained for the rest of this article.
Checkpoint: The Adoptive Parents, The Children, and The Documents
Who can adopt?
QUICK NOTE: TRAVEL. The international adoption system in Mexico allows prospective adoptive parents to spend 1 to 3 months of waiting for the large amount of paperwork while at the same time using the period to live and bond with the child that is to be adopted (pre-adoption trial period). This is by the suggestion of the Desarollo Integral de la Familia (DIF).
Mexican international adoption process allows for:
- Married couples
- Single females or males
- Same-sex couples (only permitted in Mexico City)
- Unmarried heterosexual couples, but only one of the couple will appear on the adoption decree
NOTE: Prospective adoptive parents who have previously adopted in Mexico can adopt again.
Prospective adoptive parents must be:
- Over 25 years of age
- At least 17 years older than the child.
NOTE: If married, at least one parent should be able to meet the age requirement.
Prospective adoptive parents must demonstrate their financial capabilities and the means by which they can support the physical and educational needs of the child through the following evidence:
- Job letters
- Pay stubs
- Pictures from their home
- Bank statements
Prospective adoptive parents will have to present these documents during the court process to support their financial status. Prospective adoptive parents should also be prepared to present information about two persons who will be able to confirm their moral qualities and employment status.
Prospective adoptive parents should preferably be physically and mentally healthy; however, there is no list of specific diseases or disabilities that bar prospective adoptive parents from adopting in Mexico. The states DIFs evaluate prospective adoptive parents on a case by case basis during the matching process with the child.
NOTE: Mexican States may have their own requirements; hence, it should be helpful to check with the state from which prospective adoptive parents are adopting in or from which they receive their referral.
What are the documents to be prepared?
These are the documents prospective adoptive parents should prepare prior to or during the adoption process proper.
- Original and a copy of the adoptive parents ́ passports.
- Copy of a document that states the current address of the adoptive parents.
- Original documents, issued by the Embassy (Article 5 letter) as well as by the Mexican Central Authority (Article 17 letter), demonstrating compliance with Articles 5 and 17 of the Convention which ensures that the prospective adoptive parents are eligible and suited to adopt and that the child is or will be authorized to enter and reside permanently in the receiving state or country.
- Original copies are returned except for the items identified in No. 3.
- Additional documents may be requested and may be determined by the adoptive parents’ government, for instance, to apply for an orphan visa for adoptive parents that live outside of the United States.
- For adoptive parents from the US: The United States and Mexico are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention; hence, U.S. public documents may be authenticated with Apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority.
- All documents must be translated into the Spanish language.
- Prospective adoptive parents should verify the requirements with the State DIF.
Who can be adopted?
Children in Mexico are placed in orphanages or foster care due to economic hardship, lack of acceptance of unwed mothers, and medical reasons where parents lack the financial resources to meet the needs of their children. Hence, for these reasons and when the birth parents have formally abandoned or relinquished their children, these children are placed and are eligible for adoption. Only a Civil/Family judge in a court proceeding can determine if a child has been abandoned or relinquished.
These are the specific information about the children prospective adoptive parents can select from which shall aid in their decisions:
- Both boys and girls
NOTE: Prospective adoptive parents may choose the gender of the child they wish to adopt. For instance, an unmarried male prospective adoptive parent may adopt a female child.
- Children range in ages from 5 years to teens
- Children with special needs
NOTE: Adoptions of children with special needs or medical conditions are greatly encouraged by the Mexican Central Authority, which is responsible for reviewing the home study to ensure that the prospective adoptive parents are equipped to care for the child.
- Sibling groups
- Children who are primarily of Hispanic ancestry
The Mexican International Adoption Process
Choosing and Signing in an Accredited Adoption Service Provider or Agency
Prospective adoptive parents are compelled to adopt through an accredited or approved service provider that operates both in their state or country of residences and in Mexico. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may act as the primary provider whose role is to ensure that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with The Hague Adoption Convention and the laws and regulations in their state and country as well.
What is The Hague Adoption Convention?
The Hague Adoption Convention is aimed at safeguarding the intercountry adoptions fundamentally in the best interests of the child and taking apt consideration to his or her rights. Moreover, the Convention also sees to it that the adoption is made secure by the due recognition from the countries involved in the adoption case and all the countries ratified under the Convention.
Applying for an Application to be Found Eligible to Adopt
After choosing an accredited or approved adoption service provider or agency, prospective adoptive parents should apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible government agencies in their state or country, for instance, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for US citizens. Prospective adoptive parents should submit a Form I-800A or an Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country.
Once found “eligible” and “suited” to adopt through the approved Form I-800A, the adoption service provider will provide the prospective adoptive parents their approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Mexico as part of the adoption dossier. Mexico’s adoption authority will then review the application to determine whether the applicants are also eligible to adopt under Mexico’s law. All adoption dossiers should be submitted first to the SRE, which will then be responsible for forwarding to the appropriate DIF offices.
Selecting or Matching with a Child
Once the prospective adoptive parents’ state or country authority, as well as the Mexican Central Authority, have already determined the applicants’ eligibility to adopt, and the Mexican Central Authority has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests, the Mexican Central Authority will then provide a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between the prospective adoptive parents and a specific child based on a review of the applicants’ dossier and the needs of the child.
The adoption authority in Mexico, usually the state DIF, will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child. Such data will be the determining factors whether the applicants are to accept the referral or not. The applicants have the freedom to accept or reject such that they determine whether or not they are going to be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for the child being referred. If the applicants accept, the adoption service provider communicates the acceptance to the adoption authority in Mexico.
Applying for the Child’s Eligibility for Immigration
Next to the acceptance of the match, the adoptive parents should apply for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the receiving country. For US citizen applicants, they should apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The application should be in the Form I-800 or Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.
Once a provisional approval of Form I-800 is obtained, adoptive parents, with the assistance of the adoption service provider, should it be necessary, will then have to submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the Embassy that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Mexico. The role of a consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibility and advise options for the waiver of any noted ineligibility.
NOTE: The consular officer will send an “Article 5 Letter” to the Mexican Central Authority in any intercountry where all Convention requirements are met, and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the receiving country. This letter will inform the Mexican Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that the child may enter and reside permanently in the receiving country and that the receiving country agrees that the adoption may proceed. Any attempts to obtain custody of a child before the issuance of Article 5 Letter are not allowed.
Obtaining Legal Custody of the Child
After the issuance of the Article 5 Letter, the state DIF will then submit the adoption application to the court whose role is to review the application and then to issue an adoption order for the placement of the child with the prospective adoptive parents.
The court process should take 4 to 6 months per usual, depending on the court’s workload. Prospective adoptive parents should be able to appear in person at least twice during the court process for hearings and to provide testimony to the Civil/Family judge and State DIF personnel. Also, they are also to provide two witnesses to provide testimony about their financial status, housing conditions, criminal history, and character, all of which are to be evaluated and recorded in the final adoption decree.
Furthermore, the applicants should obtain three certified copies of the full and final adoption decree which are necessary in order to 1) request a new birth certificate from the Civil Registry showing the new name of the child, 2) apply for the Mexican passport from the SRE and 3) apply for the Article 23 Certificate with the SRE which ensures that the adoption was made in accordance with the Convention.
By this time, the adoptive parents should already have or have prepared, with due assistance by the adoption agency, the 1) original birth certificate of the child which entails the child’s previous name, 2) child’s new birth certificate which shows his or her name after adoption, 3) certified copy of the adoption decree, and 4) certified copy of the document that declares that the adoption decree is final (causó “estado” or “ejecutoria”).
Obtaining an Immigrant Visa for the Child
Before the visa application, the child should first obtain a birth certificate, as mentioned above. As the adoption is finalized in court, the judge issues a full and final adoption decree declaring the child’s new name and parents, which is to be used to apply for the new birth certificate. The original final adoption decree or a certified copy of the adoption decree should be submitted to the Office of Civil Registry, where the child’s birth was originally registered.
The child, of course, shall need a Mexican travel document or passport in order to fly to the adoptive parents’ country. Mexico requires that the child and both adoptive parents appear in person to apply for the child’s Mexican passport.
Lastly, the adoptive parents should finalize the application for the child’s immigrant visa, which shall be the child’s entry permit to the receiving country or, thus, the new home country. As part of this process, the consular officer shall ask for the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.
Mexican international adoption requires the adoptive parents to report twice a year for the first three years and once a year thereafter until the child is 18 after the adoption process. The reports should be submitted to the SRE with due assistance from the adoption agency or service provider.
The Adoption Cost
The adoption cost in Mexico for intercountry adoption is relatively cheaper than some countries, more or less $20,000 to $40,000, but it highly depends on the adoption case. For instance, prospective adoptive parents outside the continent may have to spend more on travel or that the primary service provider or adoption agency charges more depending on the services they provide.
However, these are some of the necessary expenses in rough estimation that prospective adoptive parents should be aware of in pursuing the adoption.
- Adoption Service Provider Fees – $4,000-$10,000
- Application and documentation (authentication, translation, etc.) – $2,000-$2,500
- Home study – $1,000
- Post-placement fees – $1,000-$1,500
- Foreign program fees – $5,000-$10,000
- Travel and stay in Mexico (1-3 months) – $9,000-$15,000
Some countries allow for the finalization of the adoption in the receiving country. Is it allowed for intercountry adoption in Mexico?
Mexico requires that adoption be finalized prior to the child’s departure to the receiving country in order to meet Convention requirements. Prospective adoptive parents who have not yet completed a full and final adoption in Mexico will not be able to complete Mexico’s Convention process and will not be able to obtain the child’s new birth certificate which should be necessary for applying for the child’s travel documents such as passport and immigrant visa.
Are international adoptions of relatives allowed in Mexico?
Relative or intra-family adoptions are permitted but must be completed through the same Convention process as non-family adoptions. The prospective adoptive parent family member should specify an interest in adopting a family member in the application to adopt submitted to the Mexican Central Authority.