Good news! Ricardo presented a formal Hague Convention Mexico-US adoption training in Chihuahua for the DIF and Judiciary last week. He has also made this presentation in Coahuila. Ricardo works closely with many states, including Sonora, Baja California, Queretaro, Michoacán and Nayarit, Colima, Chihuahua and Coahuila. We believe that collaboration with all facets of the Central Authority is key to ethical and successful Mexico adoption.
International Child Foundation was the second agency to be authorized by the Central Authority to work in Mexico and we now work in eight Mexican states. We can help families adopting non-related children and adopting relatives. There are no additional agency fees for families adopting siblings.
Download the Guide to Mexico Adoption & Fees
International Child Foundation (ICF) began the Mexico adoption program with Lic. Ricardo Gallego, and was the second US adoption agency authorized by Mexico to provide adoption services. In Mexico, adoption is processed through the SRE (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores) and the National DIF, in conjunction with state DIF offices. Lic. Gallego is an expert Mexican adoption attorney and, in addition to assisting our families, he trains US and Mexico adoption service providers in Hague Convention adoption procedures. He has presented for many organizations, including the National Council for Adoption.
Children Referred for Adoption
Children age five and older are in the greatest need of adoptive families and Mexico has made their placement a priority. Older adoptable children are often part of a sibling group who need to be adopted together. Families adopting from Mexico need to factor this into their expectations and preparation. Mexico also needs families for special needs children of all ages. US families may request children age 5 and older, sibling groups or children with special needs. Sibling groups may include children younger and older than age 5; however, most siblings are over age 5. Children with special needs may be of any age. Children age 15+ may be unadoptable if not being adopted with a younger sibling.
All referrals of children to adoptive families are made through the DIF. Families adopting related children (nieces, nephews, siblings) are obliged to follow the same procedures as those adopting unrelated children.
Families entering into a Mexico adoption must work with a Hague accredited agency that is authorized to provide adoption services in Mexico. Married couples or single women may adopt. Parents must be at least 25 year old and at least 17 years older than the child. If married, both spouses must express their desire to adopt from Mexico in the home study.
Adoptive families must complete at least ten hours of pre-adoption education in accordance with the Hague Convention on Intercountry adoption. Most families use on-line adoption education courses. This is typically completed while the home study is in progress.
Families should continue to read about adoptive parenting throughout the process. There are several books recommended on this website. It is also advantageous to be able to speak Spanish, enough for greetings and simple conversations.
Timeframe and Steps in the Process
Adopting from Mexico will generally take a minimum of one year. The first steps are engaging the agency, providing a home study, applying to USCIS and the preparation of the dossier documents for Mexico. The dossier includes the home study and USCIS I-800A approval and a variety of other documents required by the National DIF.
The dossier travels first to Mexico City, to the SRE and the National DIF, and then is sent on to the state DIF. After the state DIF reviews the family’s dossier, children available for adoption are considered by the DIF for matching. The time the DIF takes to offer a referral varies, depending upon the request of the adoptive family and whether children that suit the request are legally free for adoption.
After the family receives a referral they travel to Mexico to spend time with the child. The time requirement varies with the age of the child. Generally families will need to plan on 3+ weeks although the visits be broken into more than one trip with the permission of the state DIF. At the conclusion of the visit or visits, the orphanage director, family (and child, if age appropriate) agree to move forward with the placement.
After the family is in agreement about accepting a referral, the DIF issues the formal referral, the “Article 16” report and the “Article 17″ letter, with the child’s legal, social and medical history. The referral documents are translated and submitted to USCIS with the family’s I-800 form and other required documents. USCIS replies within two weeks.
After the I-800 is provisionally approved by USCIS, the file is transferred to the US Embassy in Mexico City. The US Embassy initiates the visa application process with a Consular Officer, which requires additional documents from the family, including the DS 230 Parts 1 and 2. If the Consular Officer determines the child appears eligible to immigrate to the US, the SRE/National DIF will be notified, and this notification is called the “Article 5” letter. Prospective adoptive parents CANNOT move forward in the adoption process until the Article 5 letter is issued.
At this juncture the judicial process begins. This may take one to six months. The Court issues the adoption decree, which provides for the child to receive a new birth certificate, which allows the child to apply for a Mexico passport.
The final steps include… court documents and approval from the state DIF are sent with the new birth certificate and other documents as may be requested to the US Embassy and the SRE in Mexico City. The US Consular Officer reviews and sends documents to the SRE which in turn reviews them and, when approved, the SRE issues the “Article 23” certificate of Hague adoption. The family and child are then eligible to travel to Mexico City to meet with the US Embassy and, pending a medical exam and lab reports for the child, will be issued a visa for the child to enter the US. This will require at least one week in Mexico City. When the child’s visa is issued the case is completed. The family may return to the US with their child.
Note: 1) Documents in English for presentation in Mexico must be translated to Spanish and all documents in Spanish re the child and adoption must be translated to English. This adds expense and time to the adoption process. 2) Families are obligated to provide three post adoption reports per the requirements of the DIF and/or their state or agency. These are legal obligations and a compliance deposit is required.
Special Note: All ICF adoption services in Mexico are provided under the direction of Lic. Ricardo Gallego. ICF does not work with other attorneys unless supervised by Lic. Gallego and possessing appropriate credentials and training in Hague Convention procedures. Families who may have engaged other attorneys are required to work with Lic. Gallego. He is the agency’s official legal representative. If families wish to discuss conversations with other attorneys they have worked with, there will be a consultation fee for Lic. Gallego’s time. Generally, we have discovered that many attorneys are unfamiliar with the regulations of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. We also ask families seeking to adopt relatives from Mexico read this message from the US Dept of State, as the process has changed:
The Mexican Central Authority is comprised of two entities: the Secretary of Exterior Relations, or Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE), which issues key Hague Adoption Convention documentation including the Article 16 report and the Article 23 Certificate, and the National System for the Full Development of the Family, or Sistema Nacional para el Desarollo Integral de la Familia (DIF), which implements national policy for child and family welfare, including processing of domestic and intercountry adoption cases. Both of these entities are federal and are based in Mexico City.
In addition to federal authorities, Mexico adoptions also involve regional authorities and law. The civil code in each state may vary, so prospective adoptive parents need to be aware of and abide by the applicable laws of the state from which they plan to adopt. Adoptions may also involve one of the 31 state DIF offices, one in each Mexican state, and a regional DIF office. Though state and regional DIF offices play an important role in intercountry adoption cases, all processing of intercountry adoptions must be done in coordination with the federal DIF office and the SRE, which are the entities with the authority to certify Hague Convention compliance for intercountry adoptions.
Prospective adoptive parents who are dual Mexican and U.S. nationals are cautioned that only plenary or plena adoptions are considered valid for intercountry adoption. The Mexican legal framework provides for two adoption processes: simple (simple) adoption and plenary (plena) adoption. Under Mexican law, Mexican nationals and permanent residents of Mexico may complete a simple adoption, which involves a faster and simpler legal process than the longer and sometimes more difficult plena process. However, simple adoptions do not meet the requirements of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. It is only possible to issue a U.S. Hague adoption visa to children adopted via a plena adoption.
NOTE: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. For more information, visit http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_info.php?country-select=mexico
All children referred for adoption are referred through the Mexico Central Authority/DIF. Donations have no effect on adoption processing; they are strictly for our humanitarian mission. Donations cannot be directed toward a particular person; they are for the general orphanage fund. Please let us know if you have any questions!