Adopting from Mexico

It is critical to understand the various steps, regulations, and requirements.

Jennifer Mellon February 12, 2019
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Deciding to expand your family through adoption is a big decision, and it may have taken months or even years for you and your family to get to this point in the process. Whether you have already decided unequivocally you are adopting from Mexico or are just researching adopting a child from Mexico, it is critical to understand the various steps, regulations, and requirements to pursue an adoption as you begin your process. Researching your options on sites such as Adoption.com, speaking with a social worker or adoption service provider on the options available to your family, and understanding the timelines, costs, and steps involved will help you take this first step.

Mexico Is Party to the Hague Convention

Mexico is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention, the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA), and the IAA’s implementing regulations. This is done in conjunction with the legislation and regulations of Mexico. Mexico is open to intercountry adoptions to the United States, although other countries have closed.

The Mexican Central Authority is comprised of multiple entities including two federal authorities as well as an adoption authority in each of the 31 states. It is important to understand information on the Mexican Central Authority as it will be helpful as you continue your process of adopting in Mexico. The two federal authorities are the Secretary of Exterior Relations or Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE) and the National System for the Full Development of the Family (or Sistema Nacional para el Desarollo Integral de la Familia (DIF). Besides the two federal authorities under the Mexican Central Authority, in order for intercountry adoptions to the United States to be completed from Mexico, one of the 31 state DIF offices (one for each Mexican state) are involved in completing the Hague adoption process in-country. Prospective adoptive parents should take care to ensure that the adoption service provider they choose is both on the U.S. list of Hague accredited adoption service providers as well as on the national DIF’s list of adoption service providers authorized to work in Mexico.

Requirements for Adopting from Mexico

In addition to the United States State Department requirements and the specific U.S. State requirements in your home study, there are other specific requirements prospective adoptive parents must meet for adopting from Mexico. The requirements are as follows:

1. Residency and Travel

The Mexican Central Authority requires all prospective adoptive parents to travel to Mexico. This residency period in Mexico lasts three weeks. The child actually will live with the prospective adoptive parents in Mexico during this time. However, due to the amount of paperwork and the extent of the process to complete an intercountry adoption from Mexico, the DIF Federal Authority recommends that prospective adoptive parents be prepared to spend at least three months in Mexico during the entire pre-adoption trial period.

2. Marital Status

Prospective adoptive parents may be married or single. It does not matter if they are male or female gender if they are single and adopting from Mexico. Couples who are not married may still pursue adopting from Mexico. However, only one member of the couple will have their name appear legally on the adoption decree in Mexico. Same-sex couples are only allowed to adopt from Mexico City at this time.

3. Income

Prospective adoptive parents must demonstrate the means to support the physical and educational needs of the child or children they are adopting from Mexico. Prospective adoptive parents must meet certain financial requirements to adopt a child from Mexico. They must provide data which includes pay stubs from their place of employment, bank statements, and photos of their home to prove they are financially able to provide for their children. These documents will be the data prospective adoptive parents will need to provide during the court process in Mexico to support their claimed financial status. In addition to income data, both prospective adoptive parents (if married) will need to have at least two people write letters of reference in regard to their employment status and their morals, ethics, and ability to parent a child from Mexico.

4. Prospective Adoptive Parents’ Age

Prospective adoptive parents must be over 25 years of age and must be at least 17 years older than the child. If married, only one parent must meet the age requirement. The other parent may be over or under the age allotments.

Who Can Be Adopted from Mexico

There are also certain requirements when adopting from Mexico for the child or children who are eligible for adoption. Children range in age from 5 years to teens. On a case-by-case basis,zz the Mexico Central Authority will approve certain children with severe special needs for adoption under the age of 5. Prospective adoptive parents may specify whether they wish to adopt a boy or a girl; both are equally in need of families. Most Mexican children are of Hispanic ancestry and special needs and sibling groups are in need of forever families. Your home study, which is done in your United States state of residence, will provide information to Mexico on whether you are open to children with special needs or approved for sibling groups. These are conversations which are important to have with your adoption service provider and home study social worker. Adoption.com provides a wonderful list of adoption service providers in your area to start your adoption from Mexico or to find a home study agency or provider in your state. Only 12 children were adopted from Mexico to the United States in 2017.

How Long Does It Take to Adopt from Mexico

The process to adopt from Mexico can vary from adoption service provider to adoption service provider. Various factors in-country with the Mexican Central Authority or changes in notices from the U.S. State Department can also cause the timeline from beginning the process to completion to vary. It is best to speak with your adoption service provider to get a realistic expectation on the current wait times. The adoption process in Mexico does not officially start until the family’s dossier arrives in Mexico. The dossier will contain all of the information you collected through the process after submitting your application to your agency. The dossier will also include your completed home study which could take up to four months, if not longer. After submission of the dossier, the time frame to receive a prospective match is approximately 12-24 months, depending upon the age and gender of the child the family has indicated.

After Adopting from Mexico Requirements

Mexico, like all Hague Convention countries, requires post-adoption and post-placement reporting. These requirements are pertinent in order for adoptions of children from Mexico to continue. This reporting is required twice a year for the first three years the child is in your family. It is required once a year thereafter until your child turns 18. These reports are submitted directly to the Central Authority and are completed by your adoption service provider. Your agency or adoption service provider will help explain this process. Some require you to submit a deposit with your adoption fees to ensure you complete the necessary post-adoption requirements.

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt from Mexico?

Adoption costs vary from adoption to adoption and between adoption service providers. It is important to understand what all of your fees are up-front when you sign your contract with your agency. DIF does not charge any fees in connection with processing an adoption in Mexico. On average, adoptions from Mexico vary from $20,000 to $25,000 but could be less or more. It is best to discuss these fees with your adoption agency at the beginning of the process or when you are researching potential adoption service providers as they can vary.

You Are Now a Forever Family

After you completed the process of adopting from Mexico, you are now a forever family. Reach out to others in the adoption community. Make sure that your adoption service provider provides resources to ensure your child and your family is supported as a Mexican-American family. Look for Mexican cultural events, classes, or adoption groups in your area to best support your child. Be active on the Adoption.com forums and community boards to find other families who adopted from Mexico since so few are completed each year. Remember, you and your child are not alone. Enjoy the journey and best of luck to you as you begin this process of expanding your family through adoption.

Visit Adoption.com’s photolisting page for children who are ready and waiting to find their forever families. For adoptive parents, please visit our Parent Profiles page where you can create an incredible adoption profile and connect directly with potential birth parents.

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Jennifer Mellon

Jennifer Mellon has worked in the child welfare field for more than a decade, serving in varying capacities as the Executive Director and Chief Development Officer of Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) and the Corporate Communications Program Manager for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). Jennifer has served on the Board of the Campagna Center, which provides critical educational services to children and families in the DC Metro Area and on the Development Committee for the National Council for Adoption. She is the mom of three children and resides in Alexandria, Virginia.


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