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 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: All Ecuadorian adoptions by U.S. citizens must be processed through U.S.- based adoption agencies legally authorized to deal with Ecuadorian adoption agencies or private attorneys. Prospective adoptive parents residing outside Ecuador may not adopt more than two children at a time, except in the case of sibling adoptions.
An Ecuadorian court must issue a final adoption decree before the child is permitted to leave the country.
PATTERNS OF IMMIGRATION OF ADOPTED ORPHANS TO THE U.S.: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to Ecuadorian orphans:
Number of Immigrant Visas Issued
ADOPTION AUTHORITY IN COUNTRY: The Technical Adoptions Unit and the Family Assignment Committee (Unidad Técnica de Adopciones y el Comité de Asignación Familiar) oversee adoptions in Ecuador. 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. This permission is only valid for one year.
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR ADOPTIVE PARENTS: Both single and married individuals may adopt a child in Ecuador.
UNMARRIED PERSONS: An unmarried (single, widowed, divorced) adoptive parent may only adopt a child of the same sex, unless the Technical Adoptions Unit issues a favorable report for adoption of a child of the opposite sex. In such a case, there must be an age difference of 30 years between the prospective adoptive parent and the child.
MARRIED PERSONS: Both members of a married couple must be over 25 years of age. There must be an age difference of at least 14 years between the younger adoptive parent and the child.
RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adoptive parent(s) must travel to Ecuador and expect to remain there for three to four weeks to finalize the adoption, as outlined below. Once an adoption decree is issued, only one parent needs to remain in Ecuador with the child, usually for an additional week.
TIME FRAME: The adoption process in Ecuador generally takes between nine and sixteen months from beginning to end. Adopting families must first contact a U.S. adoption agency approved by the Ecuadorian government. That agency 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 three to four months (I-600A). An additional six months to one year is needed for further adjudication once these documents are forwarded to the agency or lawyer in Ecuador.
ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS: The government of Ecuador requires that prospective adoptive parents work through a private U.S. agency 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, or on-line at the following link:
Please see Important Notice Regarding Adoption Agents and Facilitators at our Web site travel.state.gov.
ADOPTION FEES IN ECUADOR: The cost of adoptions varies with different agencies. Prospective adoptive parents should contact the adoption agency for an estimated cost.
ADOPTION PROCEDURES: After DHS approves the I-600A, the U.S. adoption agency will send the prospective adopting family ’s documents to Ecuador . The Technical Adoption Unit in Ecuador will review these . Approval by this office qualifies the family to receive a referral of a child from the Ecuadorian government . The adopting family must express its acceptance of this referral in writing, after which the family will travel to Ecuador to complete the judicial part of theprocess.The adoption agency in Ecuador will help the prospective adoptive parents complete the following steps:
- Prospective adoptive parents (in the case of married couples, both spouses) are required to travel to Ecuador for an adaptation period. The time that they have to spend with the child depends on each orphanage’s policy and program, but it usually takes about 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 Agency’s representative. Those documents will be filed at the Minors Court along with the adoption petition which must be signed jointly by the petitioners. The judge will then schedule an appointment (usually one or two days later) with the prospective parents for them to acknowledge their signatures on the adoption request. The prospective adoptive parents must go personally to that appointment and bring their passports.
The adoption hearing will take place three or four days later. In that hearing, the judge will ask questions about the family into which the child may be placed, including psychological and financial situations. The questions might concern the prospective adoptive parents’ occupations, earnings, if the prospective adoptive parents have other children, motivation for the current adoption, and other family members’ opinions about the adoption. After the hearing, the prospective adoptive parents and the judge sign the minutes, and two or three days later the judge will issue the final adoption decree unless the judge identifies false statements or documents.
After the adoption decree is issued, three days must pass before it becomes final. Once the decree is final, the parents can go to the Civil Registry Office to obtain a new birth certificate for their child, including their names and any change of name for the child. With the new birth certificate, the parents (or the agency on their behalf) can obtain an Ecuadorian identity card and Ecuadorian passport for the child.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR ADOPTION IN ECUADOR: Certifications, notarizations and apostilles must be completed in the U.S. before the prospective adoptive parents travel to Ecuador and before the application for adoption is made. Translations can be done in Ecuador.
The prospective adoptive parent(s) must present the following documents to the U.S. Agency which will represent them in Ecuador.
NOTE: Documents must be apostilled in the United States.
- Certified copies of birth certificates of prospective adoptive parents;
- Certified copy of marriage certificate and proof of termination of prior marriages (death certificates/divorce decrees), if applicable;
- Certified copy of the state law that regulates the adoption of minors (especially foreign minors) in the adoptive parents' state of U.S. residence;
- 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-600A);
- A sealed 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;
- Verification of employment and salary;
- Notarized adoption authorization letter from the adoption agency to the family certifying that the family is duly prepared to adopt an Ecuadorian child;
- Certificate of physical and mental health of prospective adoptive parent(s);
- Photocopies of the passports of the prospective adoptive parent(s).
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: http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/.ECUADOR EMBASSY AND CONSULATES IN THE UNITED STATES:
Embassy of Ecuador
2535 15th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
Phone: (202) 234-7200
Fax: (202) 667-3482
Ecuador also has consulates in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Jersey City, New Orleans, New York, 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, travel.state.gov, 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 travel.state.gov.U.S. EMBASSY AND CONSULATE GENERAL IN ECUADOR: 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, https://travelregistration.state.gov/, 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 Sections are located at:
The U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section:
Avenida 12 de Octubre y Avenida Patria, Quito.
Fax: 011-593-2-2502-052- ext: 4510
The U.S. Consulate General:
9 de Octubre y Garcia Moreno, Guayaquil.
Telephone: 011-593-4-2323-570 ext:. 224, 222
Fax: 011-593-4-320-904, 011-593-4-2325-286.
APPLYING FOR A VISA AT THE U.S. CONSULATE GENERAL IN ECUADOR: 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).
For the immigrant visa application the child will need:
- Two identical 5 cm X 5 cm photographs for each applicant (the applicant's face on the photograph should measure 3.5 cm from the top of the head to the chin and 2.5 cm from side to side). The photograph must show the child's entire face on a white background. Children should not wear dark glasses or hats for the photographs.
- DS230 forms (DS230 Part I together with DS230 Part II constitute the complete Application for Immigrant Visa).
- Medical exams (according to Consulate's instructions). Must be in a closed and sealed envelope from the doctor. The medical examination must be performed by a physician from an approved list of physicians using a specified form provided by the Embassy or Consulate General. The physician will advise the parents of the vaccinations the child needs to receive to apply for the immigrant visa. If the parents do not want the child to receive vaccinations abroad, they must prepare, sign and notarize an affidavit that certifies that they will ensure that the adopted child will receive the required vaccinations within 30 days after his/her admission into the United States. If the minor has a physical or mental disability, a notarized statement will be required from the prospective adoptive parent(s) in the United States (if not present at the visa interview) indicating that s/he is fully aware of the physical or mental disability of the minor and in spite of that fact that they have the intention of finalizing the adoption. This statement can be included in item 19 of form I-600 and also in the home study, if more convenient. A separate notarized statement will not be required if the information is correctly noted in the I-600 and Home Study.
- In the case where a third party, for example a representative of the adoption agency or other entity, appears at the U.S. Consulate General for the interview with the consular officer, a notarized statement will be required authorizing that person to receive the child's approved immigrant visa. This statement can also be included in the adoption decree authorizing that person to do all the paper work, including receipt of the immigrant visa.
- For IR-4 cases only, the prospective adoptive parents will be required to present an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) signed
by both parents, and the income tax returns for the last year (Form 1040) . If both parents are in Ecuador and are planning
to appear in person at the Consulate, they may sign and notarize the Affidavit of Support at the Embassy in Quito or at the
Consulate General in Guayaquil. No fee will be charged for this service.
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: ../info/info_457.html .
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Specific questions about adoption in Ecuador may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Quito or the U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil. General questions regarding intercountry 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: http://travel.state.gov/ 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 flyer. 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: http://travel.state.gov/ 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.
- USCIS web site - http://uscis.gov/.