How to Adopt from Chile
SENAME (Servicio Nacional de Menores) is the clearinghouse for adoptions and approves parents who wish to adopt. Prospective adopting families must contact SENAME first before beginning any adoption proceedings.
Because Chile is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Chile must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.
NOTE: If you filed your I-600a with Chile before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more.
- Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be Matched with a Child
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
- Adopt the Child in Chile
- Bring your Child Home
1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:
The first step in adopting a child from Chile is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Chile. Learn more.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:
After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how. Chile's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Chile's law.
3. Be Matched with a Child:
If both the United States and Chile determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Chile may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
After a child is successfully matched with a family, there is a wait to obtain a hearing with a judge. The normal wait time is between 6 and 12 months. At the hearing, the judge may determine that the prospective adoptive parents need to provide further documentation, but all of the stated required documents would have already been submitted and in the adoption file (see below "Documents for Adoption in Country"). Either SENAME or one of the approved adoption agencies must be present at the hearing, along with both prospective parents. The child is not normally present for the adoption hearing.
NOTE: It is extremely hard to obtain a duplicate certified copy of the adoption decree - it is highly recommended that parents ask for an extra certified copy while present at the hearing.
Once the adoption is approved, the judge will inform the civil registry and provide the information for a new birth certificate, with the adoptive parents' names. This part of the process can take between 15-30 working days. The new birth document is used to obtain a Chilean identification card (also known as a R.U.T. number), which is required to obtain a Chilean passport. This part of the process can take between 15-30 working days as well. Typically adoptive parents will remain in Chile for one to two months to complete the adoption process.
4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.
After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities. If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify the Chile's adoption authority (Article 5 letter). For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place.
Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Chile, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Chile.
- TIME FRAME: Intercountry adoptions from Chile normally take about two (2) years from start to finish. This time is measured from the time the prospective adoptive parents contact SENAME expressing their intention to adopt until the time the adoption is finalized.
- ADOPTION FEES: In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process. The U.S. Embassy in Chile discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted, "donations," or "expediting" fees, that may be requested from prospective adoptive parents. Such fees have the appearance of "buying" a baby and put all future adoptions in Chile at risk. Fees vary, but prospective adoptive parents should expect to spend no more than $300. Prospective adoptive parents should report exorbitant fees to the U.S. Embassy or SENAME.
- DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: The following documents are required by SENAME after the initial letter or email from the prospective adoptive parents is received. They will not accept these documents with the initial letter or email. Prospective parents will receive a letter from SENAME acknowledging receipt and asking for the following documents below. Once the package of documents is received, SENAME will begin the process of matching a child:
- 1. Birth certificates and marriage certificate of the prospective adoptive parents;
- 2. Certificate issued by a Chilean Consul in the U.S. that states that the parents have met all U.S. adoption requirements;
- 3. Favorable home study conducted by an accredited agency in the U.S.;
- 4. Physical and psychological exams demonstrating the well-being of the parents;
- 5. Proof of parents' financial situation, i.e., ability to successfully support the child;
- 6. Recent photographs of each of the prospective adoptive parent(s);
- 7. Three notarized letters of recommendation from U.S. community, religious or other governmental authorities;
Since all Immigrant Visas issued in Chile will be IH-3 visas, the U.S. Embassy will issue a certificate stating that the child is eligible for U.S. citizenship automatically after he/she legally enters the U.S. with an immigrant visa. In order to obtain this certificate, adopting parents and/or their agent must come to the Embassy Monday, Wednesday or Friday morning between 8:30-11:00am.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.
6. Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
- 1. Birth Certificate
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
- 2. Chile Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Chile.
- 3. U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.
Prospective adoptive parents who are traveling to Chile to finalize an adoption should send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org to inform the U.S. Embassy Santiago of their impending trip. Once the adoption is completed and the documents listed below are all ready, adoptive parents should appear at the U.S. Embassy on Monday, Wednesday or Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
Adopted children need not come for this initial appearance. At this point, the documents will be reviewed and the U.S. Embassy will discuss with the parents any final details needed. Then, the U.S. Embassy will set up the final interview date and give the letter needed for the child to go to obtain his/her medical exam. This interview date is typically within 3-5 working days from the initial appearance. The child will need to be present on the final interview date.
Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes the minimum 1-2 days and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times at the appropriate consulate or embassy before making final travel arrangements.
Documents needed for Immigrant Visa:
- 1. The applicant will need the I-800 Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as Immediate Relative for cases that are filed after April 1, 2008.
- 2. Child's Chilean passport.
- 3. Four (4) passport photos (5 x 5 cm. with white background).
- 4. Forms DS230 Part I and II (which can be found on www.travel.state.gov).
- 5. Child's birth certificate legalized by the Ministry of Justice and Foreign Affairs and an English translation.
- 6. Adoption decree legalized by the Ministry of Justice and Foreign Affairs and an English translation.
- 7. Suceptibilidad de adopción (document that proves the child's eligibility for adoption) legalized by the Ministry of Justice and Foreign Affairs and an English translation.
At the FINAL interview, the Medical examination and any other documents not submitted previously will be required.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.
Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.
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