In Colombia, all processes whose purpose is the adoption of a Colombian boy, girl, or adolescent (a child under the age of 18) have to be approved by the entity "ICBF - Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar" which is a Foster Care & Child Adoption entity run by the government.
Now, you may think that if the adoption process has to be approved by the Colombian government, there may be an inevitable inequality compared to Colombian applicants and foreigners.
However, the truth is that despite the process being carried out in Colombia, the competent entities in matters of adoption of the countries of the requesting family also take part in the process, which eliminates any doubt of inequality since all the entities participating in the adoption have as their final goal to complete a family between the adopters and the adopted minor regardless of nationalities.
Colombian Adoption Requirements
Who can adopt?
- Single people.
- Married Couples
- Permanent companions who demonstrate an uninterrupted union of at least two years.
- Colombians or foreigners.
- Homoparental couples: Homoparental refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people raising one or more children as parents or fosters care parents.
What are the basic requirements to adopt?
- Be fully capable: not have any restrictions by law, be able to bind itself without the ministry or authorization of another.
- Be at least 25 years old.
- Demonstrate sufficient physical, mental, moral, and social suitability to offer a suitable and stable family to a child under 18.
- Be at least 15 years older than the adoptee.
With seemingly anyone over 25 able to adopt, many make the mistake of thinking that there are no additional challenges.
Foreign families looking to accomplish intercountry adoption must follow a strict list of requirements:
These requirements are provided by the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare.
- Official letter of filing by the Agency and/or Central Authority.
- Indeterminate Adoption application form, established by the ICBF.
- Letter of introduction or motivation of the applicants to start the adoption process
- Certification issued by the officially authorized governmental or private entity, stating the commitment to follow up on the adoptable boy, girl, or adolescent until their nationalization in the country of residence of the adopters (Post Adoption Follow-up Certification Form by the Authority and/or International Organization).
- Commitment letter of Authorization for Post Adoption follow-up by applicants (Based on the commitment letter format).
- Certificate of preparation for adoption.
- Psychological report of the applicants. (Based on the Psychology Report Format)
- Social report of the applicants. (Based on the Social Work Report Format)
- Medical certificate. In the case of applicants who present a medical diagnosis that requires periodic follow-up, the treating physician must specify: diagnosis, causes, treatment, dosage, prognosis, current state of the disease and what incidence it has on the performance of the parental role. (Medical certificate based on the Medical Certificate of Physical Suitability for Adoption)
- Certificate of ongoing treatments (physical or psychological), issued by the professionals in charge of these (if applicable).
- Birth certificates of the applicants, issued by the competent authority of the country of birth.
- Photocopy passports, For Colombian citizens, a photocopy of the Citizenship Certificate, regardless of whether they have another nationality.
- Certificate of nationalization or new civil registration of birth of the country of reception of the adopted children, when there are any.
- Civil Marriage Registry or proof of extramarital cohabitation of the applicants. In the case of permanent companions residing abroad, extramarital cohabitation will be proven in accordance with the legislation of the country of residence of the applicants, as long as the acts to prove this cohabitation are not less than two years in advance at the beginning of the adoption process.
- Labor certificates and income statements of the immediately preceding year for those cases in which it applies. In the case of self-employed, income certification issued by the competent professional entity for that purpose.
- Family budget. (Based on the Family Budget Form)
- Certificate of judicial, criminal or police records.
- Format a letter of commitment and responsibility for participation and information in the process of preparation, evaluation and selection for adoption.
- Authorization for the entry of the child or adolescent in a situation of adoptability by the government of the country of residence of the adopters. (The Hague Convention. Articles 5, 18 and Article 125 Child and Adolescent Code, Law 1098 of 2006). In the case of countries not adhering to the Agreement, the procedure is in accordance with what is requested in Article 125 of the Numeral Childhood and Adolescence Code. 2)
- Permission for international adoption or suitability issued by the competent authority in the receiving country (The Hague Convention. Articles 5 and 15). In the case of countries not adhering to the Agreement, the permit for International Adoption or document that proves the suitability of the applicants by the Competent Authority to issue it in the country of residence of the applicants.
- A suitable document that accredits the translator.
- Photographic record of housing conditions, applicants and family and social support network (CD or USB).
For foreigners residing in Colombia, attach the following documents in addition to the above:
- Identity card or passport
- Suitable document (R visa) in accordance with the provisions of the current regulations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Document issued by the Authority of the country of the foreign applicant(s), according to their nationality, stating that they were informed of the national adoption process that their compatriot takes in Colombia, in addition to indicating the information on the requirements for the adopted boy, girl or adolescent obtains nationality and authorization to enter the country, as well as the subsequent ratification of the sentence that recognizes the adoption carried out in Colombia
Now, after complying with all these requirements, you may wonder what the actual adoption process may look like and what stages you should look forward to completing.
The Steps To Adopt A Child In Colombia
Stage 1: The Administrative Stage
In this stage, the applicant family formally presents their request to adopt, stating their will to do so and complying with the previously stated requirements. The Government entity certifies its suitability in a comprehensive and rigorous manner, and is submitted for evaluation by the expert committee.
Stage 2: The Judicial Stage
After completing stage 1 and obtaining the green light from all the filters to adopt a minor, the judicial stage is when a judge determines that the child or adolescent is the child of their adoptive parents in all terms of the law.
Stage 3: Follow-Up Stage
At this final step, you are back to your country of origin with your newest addition to the family, which means that now all the procedures to ensure that the minor is in a safe and healthy environment take place and is also known as the follow-up stage, in which the ideal conditions of the minor's environment are verified.
There are many concerns regarding intercountry adoption, and most focus on the child's well-being once she/he abandons his country of origin. To settle some of those concerns, we'd like to state that Colombia is a signatory country of the Hague Convention and others relating to child protection and cooperation in international adoption, which means that it only facilitates adoption processes to countries that are also signatories of these types of treaties.
Hague Convention Countries:
- United States of America
The Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (HCCH 1993 Adoption Convention) protects children and their families against the risks of illegal, irregular, premature or ill-prepared adoptions abroad. This Convention, which operates through a system of national Central Authorities, reinforces the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Art. 21) and seeks to ensure that intercountry adoptions are made in the best interests of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights. It also seeks to prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children.
There is no inequality between Colombian and foreign applicants as all entities involved in the process aim to complete a family between the adopters and the adopted child, regardless of nationality.
The requirements to adopt include being fully capable, being at least 25 years old, and demonstrating physical, mental, moral, and social suitability. Foreign families face a strict list of requirements to adopt, including a certificate of preparation for adoption, psychological and social reports, and medical certificates.
We advise all applicant families to seek legal council through this process to move through the different phases with the least amount of friction possible.
Daniela Cordoba is a lawyer specializing in immigration and commercial law. Daniela Cordoba has helped individuals and businesses live and operate in Colombia for over a decade. She also has training in compliance with the respective accreditations to serve as Compliance Officer.
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