How to Adopt from Dominican Republic
Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia CONANI
Because the Dominican Republic is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from the Dominican Republic must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Hague Adoption Convention process is given below. The PAP (s) must complete these steps in the following order so that the adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.
NOTE: If a full and final adoption was completed in the Dominican Republic or filed an I-600a with USCIS before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply. The 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 the Dominican Republic
- Bringing the Child Home
1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:
The first step in adopting a child from the Dominican Republic is to select an adoption service provider (ASP) in the United States that is accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and the Dominican Republic. Note that an ASP will be obligatory for certain parts of the adoption process. Learn more.
2.Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:
After choosing an accredited adoption service provider, PAPs 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) National Benefits Center. Learn how. Once the U.S. government determines that the PAPs are "eligible" and "suitable" to adopt, the representative ASP will forward this information to CONANI. CONANI will review the application to determine whether the PAPs are also eligible to adopt under Dominican Republic's law.
3.Be Matched with a Child:
If both the United States and the Dominican Republic determine that the PAPs are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, CONANI may provide the PAP 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.
If CONANI is satisfied with the documentation submitted by the PAPs, the PAPs are then placed on a waiting list for assignment of a child. If PAPs are applying for the adoption of a child known to them and prior coexistence can be demonstrated both apparent and uninterrupted, then the case continues through the rest of the process without joining the waiting list.
DOCUMENTARY REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adoptive parents must meet the documentary requirements of Dominican law (see below). Once all the required documents are complete, the PAP(s) must submit the original along with two set of copies to the Department of Adoptions of CONANI.
- 1. Adoption application letter signed by the PAPs.
- 2. Special Power of Representation of the lawyer for the PAPs, if applicable.
- 3. Photograph of the future adoptive family.
- 4. Photocopies of the passports of the PAPs.
- 5. Psychological evaluation report made to the PAPs.
- 6. Social assessment report made to the PAPs.
- 7. Birth certificates of the PAPs.
- 8. Marriage certificate of the PAPs.
- 9. Certificates of no criminal record of the PAPs.
- 10. Medical certificates of the PAPs.
- 11. Proof of economic solvency of each of the PAPs.
- 12. Certification from an entity of a civic, community, or religious group on the social and moral suitability of the PAPs.
- 13. Certificate of no objection from the PAPs children over 12 years of age (if applicable).
- 14. Certification of suitability of the PAPs, issued by the USCIS (Approval of I-800A).
- 15. Certification issued by the officially authorized agency (Adoption Service Provider) or authority of commitment for post-adoption monitoring.
After the match is suggested, the family will need to file an I-800 petition for the child with the National Benefits Center (NBC) of the USCIS. CONANI will then need confirmation that the NBC provisionally approved the I-800 petition for the matching process to be complete
THE WAITING LIST:
- 1. After confirming that the documentation is complete, the file will be given a number and placed on the waiting list to be assigned as the prospective adoptive parents of a child.
- 2. When the PAPs turn comes, the Appropriations Committee makes the allocation of future adoptive family to the child.
- 3. CONANI presents the medical and psychological records of the child to the PAPs for evaluation and then sends a copy of the file to the U.S. accredited agency for scrutiny and approval. This approval must be sent in writing to CONANI before starting the stage of socialization. (This is the process in which the PAPs spend time with the child).
- 4. The PAPs must answer in writing to CONANI's Adoption Department Management either accepting or rejecting the child placement.
4.Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:
After PAPs accept a match with a child, they then 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.
Once approved, the child's file will be transferred electronically to the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo. A staff member of the U.S. Embassy will contact the PAPs or their ASP to ask for a completed visa application and two photographs of the child. Once received, a Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities.
If the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he or she will send a letter (an "Article 5 Letter") to CONANI. PAPs are cautioned not to adopt or obtain custody of a child before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter.
Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
Remember: Before PAPs complete the adoption or obtain guardianship of a child in the Dominican Republic, they must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can PAPs proceed to finalize the adoption in the Dominican Republic.
- Role of The Central Authority: After the prospective adoptive parents receive and accept the referral of a child, CONANI reviews the prospective adoptive parents' file for required documents and, if satisfied, issues a Certificate of Suitability.
- Role of the Dominican Court of Minors (the Court): Dominican adoption law is governed by the Dominican Code of Fundamental Protection and Rights for Children and Adolescents, Law 136-03, Articles 111-167. The Dominican Court of Minors receives the formal, legal application for adoption. If the application is approved, the Court issues a Final Order of Adoption.
- Role of Adoption Service Providers: The adoption service provider (ASP) forwards the prospective adoptive parents' application to CONANI. The ASP also is responsible for obtaining further permissions from the U.S. and Dominican authorities as well as ensuring that the PAPs are fully versed in the remaining procedures to be completed.
- Time Frame: An adoption can be completed within nine to ten months of U.S. and Dominican requirements being met. It should be noted that many variables can affect the total time it takes to complete the intercountry adoption of a Dominican child.
- Adoption Application: The prospective adoptive parents initiate contact with CONANI (via their attorney) and begin the process of locating a child who meets the definition of "Convention adoptee" under both Dominican and U.S. law.
- Adoption Fees: Attorney fees for the adoption of a Dominican child range from $5,000 to $8,000 USD. All adoption-related expenses, including court costs and document fees, are included in this estimate. These expenses should have been itemized in the fees and estimated expenses section of the adoption services contract. Learn more about adoption service provider responsibilities.
SOCIALIZATION: If the PAPs accept the child placement, then the socialization period begins. This is the first contact between the child and prospective adoptive parents.
- 1. CONANI and the PAPs sign an act of consent
- 2. CONANI issues a certificate of completion of the administrative phase of the adoption process and refers the case to the Court of Children and Adolescents territorial jurisdiction. This begins the judicial phase of the adoption process.
- 3. Once the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has approved the PAPs (I-800 approval) CONANI can continue the process and start the period of co-habitation between the PAPs and the candidate for adoption.
THE JUDICIAL PROCESS:
- 1. Requests from future adoptive parents are treated in strict chronological order, starting from the date of entry of the file to the Adoption Department.
- 2. All documents coming from abroad should be legalized or authenticated by the competent authority, and they should be translated into Spanish by a certified court interpreter.
- 3. Currently, the waiting time for records that are complete and on the waiting list for adoption is between two years to two and half years until being assigned to prospective adoptive parents.
NOTE: In Dominican Republic, the Law of Minors and Adolescents 136-03 states that only after completing an official adoption can a child be taken out of Dominican Republic for purposes of international adoptions. Thus, PAPs must complete the full and final adoption in Dominican courts before the child can be taken to the United States. In essence, there is no such thing as an IH4/IR4 visa for Dominican Republic. While guardianship exists for domestic purposes, it does not exist for intercountry adoptions.
CONTACTS: For more information or guidance on the process of Adoption in Dominican Republic, please contact the Department of Adoptions CONANI (see at bottom of page). In the adoption services contract that PAPs sign at the beginning of the adoption process, the ASP shall itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to the adoption process.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If PAPs are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.
6. Bringing the Child Home
Now that the adoption is complete, there are a few more steps to take before heading home. Specifically, adoptive parents need to apply for three documents for their child before he or she can travel to the United States:
- 1. Birth Certificate
Dominican Law requires adoptive parents to first apply for a new birth certificate for their child, so that they can later apply for a passport. The adoptive parents' names will be added to the new birth certificate. Please visit this link to learn more about applying for a birth certificate in the Dominican Republic.
- 2. Dominican Passport
An adopted child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a Passport from the Dominican Republic. Please visit this link to learn more about how to obtain a passport for a child in the Dominican Republic.
- 3. U.S. Immigrant Visa:
Before adoptive parents come in for a final visa interview, they need to have obtained a new birth certificate and passport for their child as well as have completed the co-residency requirements under Dominican law. Once adoptive parents are ready, they may contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo at CONSULARSANTOD2@state.gov.
Adoptive parents will be given an open appointment via email to come to the Consular Section at their convenience during normal working hours to complete the visa interview. However, the visa cannot be issued until a U.S. Embassy designated panel physician completes a medical examination of the child. Once the final medical report is obtained from the panel physician, the adoptive parents and the child may come in with an open appointment letter for the visa interview.
On the day of the interview, adoptive parents will present their appointment letter to the guards outside the Consular Section who will direct them inside. Once inside, adoptive parents may proceed to Window 15 to inquire about an adoption visa interview for the day. The Embassy employee will ask for the SDO case number and the child's name in order to locate the file. The employee may ask for some additional documentation, including the final medical report, and payment of the Immigrant Visa Interview Fee at the Cashier. If the child is over 14 years of age, then s/he will be sent to be fingerprinted. Otherwise, after taking in all necessary documents, adoptive parents will be given a unique number that will be called when it is time for the interview. Until the number is called, the U.S. Embassy requests that families have a seat in the waiting area.
At the interview, the officer may ask questions regarding the entire adoption process on both the U.S. and Dominican procedures. If there are any questions, recommendations, suggestions, etc. adoptive families are free to provide these to the officer at this time. Assuming that everything is fine, the officer will approve the visa, finally approve the I-800 form, and send the file for printing the visa and the Hague Adoption Certificate. Again, families are asked to wait in the waiting area again for the visa to be prepared and printed.
Once printed, families will again be called to Window 15 by name or by the case number and will be given the child's passport with a visa inside and a manila envelope known as the Visa Packet. DO NOT OPEN THIS PACKET, as it is for the U.S. immigration officials to open once the family enters the United States. The family is now free to travel home.
TWO ITEMS TO REMEMBER:
- 1. DO NOT OPEN THE PACKET AT ANY TIME,
- 2. Please allow enough time to go through secondary at the first Port of Entry into the United States. The family will be asked to go into secondary for the Immigration Officer to open the packet and process the documents inside. If families do not allow sufficient time for this, they may miss onward travel plans.
To learn more about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
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