Mexico and the Hague Convention

Puerto Vallarta cathedral in Puerto Vallarta.

WARNING: Mexico is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Mexico before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter.” See the “How to Adopt” section for more information.

Mexico is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, all adoptions between Mexico and the United States must meet the requirements of The Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. law and regulations implementing the Convention.

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. The two federal authorities are the Secretary of Exterior Relations, or Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE), which issues key Hague Adoption Convention documentation including 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 coordinates 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 the two federal authorities named above, adoptions also involve one of the 31 state DIF offices, one in each Mexican state. The state DIF offices issue the Article 16 and Article 17 letters, important Hague Adoption Convention documentation. 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. Though state and regional DIF offices play an important role in intercountry adoption cases, all intercountry adoptions must be processed 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.

Propective adoptive parents must submit their adoption application to the SRE through a U.S. based adoption service provider (ASP) that is both Hague Accredited in the U.S. AND approved to provide services in Mexico by the Mexican Central Authority. Mexico recently implemented a national authorization process for adoption service providers. Mexican state DIF offices may choose to accept national authorization of an ASP or may choose to implement their own authorization process for ASPs. However, working with an adoption service provider that has received only state authorization (and not national authorization) may cause the case to go through an end of process verification at the federal level. This could delay the adoption and possibly result in the Mexican Central Adoption's refusal to issue Hague certifications that are required for visa issuance. Prospective adoptive parents should take care to ensure that the ASP they choose to work with is both on the U.S. list of Hague accredited ASPs, as well as being authorized to provide services by both state and federal adoption authorities in Mexico.

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 Adoption Convention. It is only possible to issue a U.S. Hague adoption visa to children adopted via a plena adoption. The plena adoption decree must mention that the dual national parents reside in the United States, and must clearly indicate that the adoption is an intercountry adoption.

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