How to Adopt from Ecuador
1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:
The first step in adopting a child from Ecuador is to select an accredited or approved adoption service provider in the United States that has signed an Agreement with the Government of Ecuador. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Ecuador. A list of U.S. accredited and approved adoption service providers may be obtained in person from the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Quito or Consulate General in Guayaquil or online from the Department of State. Learn more.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how. Once the U.S. Government determines that you are "eligible" and "suitable" to be an adoptive parent, your information will be forwarded to the Central Authority in Ecuador. The Technical Adoptions Unit will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Ecuadorian law.
3. Be Matched with a Child:
If both the United States and Ecuador determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, The Family Assignment Committee (Comites de Asignacion Familiar), will provide a referral for a child and assign a child to the prospective adoptive parent(s) and forward this information regarding the assigned child to the parent's(s') adoption service provider. You cannot identify a specific child that you would like to adopt prior to the referral. Prospective adoptive parent(s) must express acceptance of the referral in writing, after which, they must travel to Ecuador to complete the judicial part of the process. If married, both spouses are required to travel to Ecuador for an adaptation period. The length of the adaptation period with the child depends on each orphanage's policy and program, but it usually takes three or four days.
After this, based on the prospective adoptive parents' relationship with the child, the orphanage will send a report to the Technical Adoption Unit. That office will then give the report along with other adoption documents to the adoption service provider's representative. The documents will be filed at the Minor's Court along with the adoption petition, which must be signed (jointly by the petitioners if a married couple). The judge will then schedule an appointment (usually one or two days later) with the prospective adoptive parent(s) to acknowledge the signature(s) on the adoption request. The prospective adoptive parent(s) must go personally to that appointment and bring their passport(s).
4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the USCIS for provisional approval to adopt that specific child (Form I-800, Petition to Classify a Convention adoptee as an Immediate Relative). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. immigration law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.
If the Form I-800 is provisionally approved, DHS will send it to the NVC and the NVC will forward it to the U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Either you or your adoption service provider will submit a visa application to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The 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 notify the Central Authority (Consejo Nacional de la Niñez y Adolescencia, CNNA) and the Adoption Service Provider (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.
The process for finalizing the adoption in Ecuador generally includes the following: ## Role of The Court: The courts in Ecuador issue adoption decrees. The Childhood and Adolescence Court, Juzgado de la Niñez y Adolescencia, must grant permission for the child to depart the country if only one member of the couple is present in Ecuador to travel with the child.
- Role of Adoption Service Providers: The Government of Ecuador requires that prospective adoptive parents work through an accredited or approved U.S. adoption service provider that has signed an Agreement with the Government of Ecuador. The agency can give you an estimate of the cost of an adoption in Ecuador. A list of these agencies may be obtained in person from the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Quito or Consulate General in Guayaquil.
- Time Frame: The adoption process in Ecuador generally takes between nine and sixteen months to complete. Adopting families must first contact an Ecuadorian-approved U.S. adoption service provider that will provide general instructions about intercountry adoption procedures, and will assist prospective adoptive parents with the preparation and filing of preliminary U.S. immigration documentation. This process generally takes approximately three months (USCIS Form I-800A). An additional six months to one year is needed for further adjudication once these documents are forwarded to an agency or lawyer in Ecuador.
- Adoption Fees: The cost of adoptions varies with different adoption service providers. 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. Learn more.
- Documents Required: Certifications, notarizations and apostilles must be completed in the United States before the prospective adoptive parents travel to Ecuador or the application for adoption is submitted. Translations can be completed in Ecuador. Documents must be apostilled in the United States. The prospective adoptive parent(s) must present the following documents to the American adoption service provider which will represent them in Ecuador:
- 1. Certified copies of birth certificates of prospective adoptive parent(s);
- 2. Certified copy of marriage certificate and proof of termination of prior marriages (death certificates/divorce decrees), if applicable;
- 3. Certified copy of the state law that regulates the adoption of minors (especially foreign minors) in the adoptive parent's(s') state of U.S. residence;
- 4. Home study report on the adoptive parent(s) and institutional criteria on the suitability of the adoptive parent(s) from the entity performing the home study (all these documents are part of the I-800A);
- 5. Certificate of no criminal record for each adoptive parent from a local police department (an FBI report is acceptable in lieu of local police record);
- 6. Verification of employment and salary;
- 7. Notarized adoption authorization letter from the adoption service provider to the family certifying that the family is duly prepared to adopt an Ecuadorian child;
- 8. Certificate of physical and mental health of prospective adoptive parent(s); and
- 9. Photocopies of the passports of the prospective adoptive parent(s).
The adoption hearing will take place three or four days after the judge schedules the meeting to verify signature(s). The judge will review the parent's(s') qualifications, including psychological and financial situations. After the hearing, prospective adoptive parent(s) and the judge sign the minutes. The judge will issue the final adoption decree unless the judge identifies false statements or documents.
The adoption decree becomes final three days after issuance. At this point, the adoptive parent(s) can obtain a new birth certificate for their child from the Civil Registry Office. The new birth certificate will include the name(s) of parent(s) and any change of name for the child. With the new birth certificate, the parent(s) (or the adoption service provider on their behalf) can obtain an Ecuadorian identity card and Ecuadorian passport for the child.
6. Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete, 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. In Ecuador, parents apply for the child's new birth certificate at the Civil Registry Office. Once the judge has issued a final adoption decree, parents may apply for the birth certificate.
- 2. Ecuadorean Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he or she will need a travel document or passport from Ecuador.
- 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 U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil for your child. After the adoption is granted, visit the Consular Section 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. Learn more.
All immigrant visa cases for Ecuador are processed at the U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil. Since each case is unique, it is possible that the staff of the Consulate General will request additional documents after a preliminary review of the application of the prospective adoptive parent(s).
To learn more about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
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