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April 2006

Disclaimer: The following is intended as a very general guide to assist U.S. citizens who plan to adopt a child from a foreign country and apply for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. Two sets of laws are particularly relevant: 1) the laws of the child’s country of birth govern all activity in that country including the adoptability of individual children as well as the adoption of children in that country in general; and 2) U.S. Federal immigration law governs the immigration of the child to the United States.

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. It does not necessarily reflect the actual state of the laws of a child’s country of birth and is provided for general information only. Moreover, U.S. immigration law, including regulations and interpretation, changes from time to time. This flyer reflects our current understanding of the law as of this date and is not legally authoritative. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services.  For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and/or the licensing office of the appropriate state government agency in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed.  

PLEASE NOTE: Adoption in Brazil can be a complicated process, sometimes involving long waits.  Brazilian adoption law gives preference to Brazilian citizens and citizens of countries that have implemented the 1993 Hague Convention on International Adoption.  As of March 2006, the United States has not yet ratified and implemented the Convention.  Please be aware that without Brazilian citizenship, it is unlikely that a U.S. citizen will be able to adopt a healthy, single child under the age of 5 years.  The following types of children are most commonly available to U.S. citizens without Brazilian citizenship:

  • Single, healthy children, age 5+
  • Sibling groups of any number and of all ages
  • Special needs children of all ages

PATTERNS OF IMMIGRATION OF ADOPTED ORPHANS TO THE U.S.: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to Brazilian orphans.

Fiscal Year Number of Immigrant Visas Issued
FY 2005 66
FY 2004 69
FY 2003 30
FY 2002 26
FY 2001 32

Prior to 2001, the number of adoptions completed by American citizens was higher than the years to follow.  The decrease in adoptions to American citizens is due to the Brazilian government placing priority for intercountry adoptions to those countries that have already ratified the Hague Adoption Convention, which the U.S. has not.  More recently, the number of adoptions is higher due to the fact that almost all cases of adoptions granted to American citizens are of sibling groups of children.


The State Judiciary Commission of Adoption (CEJA) is the division of government responsible for intercountry adoption in Brazil.  Each Brazilian state maintains a CEJA that acts as the central adoption authority, and is the sole organization authorized to approve foreign adopting parents.  Given that the U.S. has not ratified the Hague Convention, some CEJAs are (less apt) not willing to work with American petitioners.  The following CEJAs are known to work with American citizens:

President: High Court Judge Washington Luiz Damasceno Freitas
Director: José Amilton Ramos Azevedo
Avenida Durval de Goes Monteiro, 6001
Tabuleiro do Martins,
Macéio, AL 57061-000
Phone: (55) (82) 3328-9006
Fax: (55) (82) 3328-9010

Minas Gerais
President: High Court Judge Roney Oliveira
Director: Francisco de Assis Figueiredo
Fórum Lafayete, Av. Augusto de Lima, 1549, Sl. AL 339
Belo Horizonte, MG 30190-002
Phone: (55) (31) 3330-2833
Fax: (55) (31) 3330-2391
E-mail:[email protected]

President: High Court Judge Sabian Schweitzer
Director: Jane Pereira Prestes
Rua Marechal Floriano Peixoto, 672, 40 andar
Curitiba, PR 80010-130
Phone: (55) (41) 3233-3518
Fax: (55) (41) 3225-6044
E-mail: adoçã[email protected]

Presidente: Des. Ozael Rodrigues Veloso
Secretário Executivo: Élio Braz Mendes
Endereço: Tribunal de Justiça do Estado de Pernambuco, s/nº, Pal da Justiça,
Recife, PE 50000-000
Phone: (81) 3419-3217 / 3218 / 3181
Fax: (81) 3224-0656

Rio de Janeiro
President: High Court Judge Thiago Ribas Filho
Director: Miriam Ribas Cid Loreiro
Av. Erasmo Braga, 115, Sl. 202, B,
Lâmina 1
Edifício do Fórum, Centro
Rio de Janeiro, RJ 20026-900
Phone: (55) (21) 2588-3295
Fax: (55) (21) 2588-2657
E-mail: [email protected]

Santa Catarina
President: High Court Judge Eládio Torret Rocha
Director: Mery Ann Furtado e Silva
Rua Álvaro Millen da Silveira, 208, 80 andar
Edifício Tribunal Justiça
Centro, Florianópolis, SC 88020-901
Phone: (55) (48) 221-1224/1226
Fax: (55) (48) 221-1100
E-mail:[email protected]

São Paulo
President: High Court Judge José Mario Antonio Cerdinalli
Director: Reinaldo Cintra Tones de Carvalho
Praçã João Mendes, 200 andar, s/n0 Sl. 2021
São Paulo, SP 01501-001
Phone/Fax: (55) (11) 3242-3465
E-mail: [email protected]

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR ADOPTIVE PARENTS: The Government of Brazil requires that prospective adoptive parents meet the following conditions:

  • Persons over the age of 21 may adopt, regardless of marital status;
  • The adopting party must be at least 16 years older than the potential adoptee;

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS:  Brazilian law requires prospective parents to live in Brazil with the child for a cohabitation period of at least 15 days for children under two years of age and at least 30 days for older children.

TIME FRAME: The average time to complete an intercountry adoption in Brazil varies from three months to one year.

ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS:  The CEJAs maintain lists of attorneys throughout Brazil, some of whom specialize in adoption cases.  The U.S. Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro can provide interested parties with a list of CEJA addresses and phone numbers.

Please see Important Notice Regarding Adoption Agents and Facilitators at our web site

ADOPTION FEES IN BRAZIL:  There are no government fees to open a dossier with the CEJAs.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine an average cost for attorneys in Brazil since prices vary from state to state, and on the qualifications of the attorney.

BRAZILIAN ADOPTION LAW: In October 1990, Brazil promulgated a new Federal Statute for the protection of children and adolescents.  In accordance with this law, priority in adoptions is given to Brazilian citizens.  Other major terms of the law include:

  • Adoption by proxy is prohibited;
  • A child being adopted will only be allowed to depart Brazilian territory once the adoption has been finalized;
  • Adoption requires the consent of the birth parents or of the legal representative of the potential adoptee.  Consent will be waived with regard to a child or adolescent whose birth parents are unknown or who have been stripped of their parental rights;
  • International adoption agencies are allowed to act on behalf of the prospective adoptive parents.

Furthermore, an adoption home study evaluation is required to determine the suitability of the applicant(s) to become adoptive parent(s).  The home study must be performed by a professional social worker who is authorized by local authorities in Brazil to perform such work.  In general, home studies done in the U.S. are acceptable as long as the adopting parent(s) present a Portuguese translation authenticated by the Brazilian Embassy and/or Consulate in the United States.

ADOPTION PROCEDURES:  To begin the adoption process, prospective adoptive parents must apply for permission to adopt from the State Judiciary Commission of International Adoption (CEJA) in the state where the adoption will occur (listed above).  According to CEJA statute, the adoptive parents will need to file the documents listed below.

Once the documents are submitted, CEJA processes the application.   A lawyer is not required for this service.  CEJA also provides prospective adoptive parents with a “Habilitation Approval Certificate” and eventually identifies the children eligible for adoption from a database of prospective children.

The U.S. Consulate in Rio de Janeiro provides a letter addressed to the CEJA  stating that the United States will comply with the Hague Adoption Convention (i.e. that the adopted child will be a United States citizen and have all rights as any United States citizen). This letter is provided only after the DHS has approved the I-600A application and a copy of the approval is received by the United States Consulate in Rio de Janeiro.

Once the adoptive parents satisfy Brazilian adoption requirements, a judge may grant a final adoption.  The Brazilian government will then allow the child to leave Brazil.    The adoptive parents can change the child’s name and request a new birth certificate (listing their names as parents) at the Brazilian Civil registry office.  Afterwards, the adoptive parents need to apply for a passport for the child at the Brazilian passport office.

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR ADOPTION IN BRAZIL:  Any foreign couple or person adoption a Brazilian child must have an authorization from the State Judiciary Commission on Adoption (CEJA). According to CEJA statutes petitioners must provide at a minimum the following:

  1. A Home study including:
    1. Psychological evaluation
    2. Medical report of prospective parents saying they are in good health and mentally and physically capable to adopt, 
      (U.S. medical reports are acceptable if translated into Portuguese and authenticated by the Brazilian Embassy and/or Consulate in the U.S.) Certificate of Residence – proof of home ownership or an affidavit from the prospective parent’s landlord regarding the apartment and lease including pictures from the house (inside and outside),
    3. Pictures of prospective adoptive family and grandparents (if possible).
  2. ‘I-171H’ form, Notice of Approval of I-600A petition;
  3. Copy of Petitioner’s U.S. passport(s), photo and signature page;
  4. Police records, requested within one year;
  5. Last filed Federal Income Tax (return);
  6. Marriage certificate (if applicable);
  7. Birth certificate (if not married);
  8. Divorce Decree (if applicable);
  9. Applicant’s Current state of residence law on adoptions, including statement  that  the law is still in effect (generally obtained at a state Court House, from a Senator’s office, or  lawyer);
  10. Handwritten signed statement from the petitioner saying s/he is aware that adoption in Brazil is free and irrevocable;
  11. Statement that petitioner is aware that s/he must not establish any contact in Brazil with prospective child’s birth parent(s) or guardian (if applicable) before the authorization from CEJA is issued. 

AUTHENTICATING U.S. DOCUMENTS TO BE USED ABROAD:  The language describing the process of authenticating U.S. documents to be used abroad is currently under review. Please click on the following link for more information until the new language is finalized:


Brazilian Embassy
3006 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20008
Phone: (202) 238-2700
Fax: (202) 238-2827

Brazilian Consulates are located in the following U.S. cities:  Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco.

US Immigration Requirements

Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. The USCIS publication is available at the USCIS Web site. The Department of State publication International Adoption can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Web site,, under “International Adoption.”

Before completing an adoption abroad, prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to read the requirements for filing Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.  Please see the flyer “How Can Adopted Children Come to the United States” at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs web site

U.S. CONSULATE GENERAL IN RIO DE JANEIRO:  Americans living or traveling abroad are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website,, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the country of travel.  Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.  The Consular Section is located at:

Avenida Presidente Wilson, 147, Castelo
Rio de Janeiro RJ 20030-020
Ph: (55) (21) 3823-2000
Fax: (55) (21) 3823-2083
E-mail: [email protected]

APPLYING FOR A VISA AT THE U.S. CONSULATE IN BRAZIL:  The U.S. Consulate in Rio de Janeiro is the only consulate in Brazil that issues immigrant visas, including adoption visas.  Petitioners should contact the Immigrant visa unit to verify if their I-600A/I-600 approval has arrived and to schedule their child’s immigrant visa interview.  Adoptive parents can file the I-600 at the American Consulate in Rio de Janeiro only if the I-600A has been approved by DHS.  Pre-scheduled appointments are required.  Adoptive parents are asked to be at the Consulate at by 8:00 a.m.  Since wait times vary greatly, adoptive parents should be prepared to spend the day at the Consulate. 

Adoptive parents are required to bring the following documentation to the U.S. Consulate on the day of the visa interview:

  • Form I-600 (petition to classify orphan as an immediate relative);
  • Form DS-230 parts I and II;
  • Original of petitioner’s and spouse’s (if applicable) U.S. passports.  If one of the adoptive parents is not going to be present on the day of the interview, a notarized copy of the data page of the U.S. passport will be necessary;
  • Child’s Brazilian passport;
  • Original and certified copy of child’s birth certificate (before the adoption), with official translation (if NOT in Portuguese or English);
  • Original and certified copy of child’s birth certificate (after adoption), with official translation (if NOT in Portuguese or English);
  • Original and certified copy of Adoption Decree with official translation (if NOT in Portuguese or English);
  • Medical report on the child, done by one of the doctor’s on the Immigrant Visas Unit’s Panel Physicians list – please contact the U.S. Consulate’s website for this list – ;
  • Affidavit of support (Form I-134 and proof of income – last federal income tax forms, 1040s-for IR-4 cases only);
  • Three (3) frontal face pictures of the child;
  • Power of Attorney (if the petitioner has not signed form I-600 and will not be present for the interview);
  • Immigrant visa application fee in either Brazilian currency or dollars – cash or international credit cards are acceptable (payable at the U.S. Consulate).

1-If more than one child is being adopted; adoptive parents must provide one copy of the above listed documents for each child;
2- If more than one child is adopted and they are not siblings, another I-600 petition fee will have to be paid for each additional child on the day of the immigrant visa interview;
3- If adoptive parents are married, both petitioner and spouse must adopt the child - both names must be included in the adoption decree and in the new birth certificate;
4- Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes 24 hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview.  The visa should be ready by 3:00 p.m. on the day following the interview.

ACQUIRING U.S. CITIZENSHIP: The language describing the acquisition of U.S. citizenship for adopted children is currently under review. Until the new language is finalized, please click on the following link for further information:

NOTE: Adopted children receive either an IR2 or IR3 visa in Brazil.  Given that all adoptions must be finalized in country, IR4 visas (for orphans to be adopted in the U.S.) are not issued in Brazil.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Specific questions about adoption in Brazil may be addressed to the U.S. Consulate in Rio de Janeiro. General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747

Useful information is also available from several other sources:


  • Toll Free - For information on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction, call Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444.
  • U.S. Department of State Visa Office - recorded information concerning immigrant visas for adopting children, (202) 663-1225.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services - recorded information for requesting immigrant visa application forms, 1-800-870-FORM (3676).


  • Adoption Information Flyers: The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs web site at: contains intercountry adoption information flyers like this one and the International Adoptions brochure.
  • Consular Information Sheets: The State Department has general information about hiring a foreign attorney and authenticating documents that may supplement the country-specific information provided in this flier. In addition, the State Department publishes Consular Information Sheets (CISes) for every country in the world, providing information such as location of the U.S. Embassy, health conditions, political situations, and crime reports. If the situation in a country poses a specific threat to the safety and security of American citizens that is not addressed in the CIS for that country, the State Department may issue a Public Announcement alerting U.S. citizens to local security situations. If conditions in a country are sufficiently serious, the State Department may issue a Travel Warning recommending that U.S. citizens avoid traveling to that country. These documents are available on the Internet at: or by calling the State Department's Office of Overseas Citizen Services Toll Free at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444.