Index of "International Adoptions Reports"
Index of "Population, Refugees and Migration" ||
Electronic Research Collections Index ||
U.S. Department of State
1995: International Adoption -- Belize
Bureau of Consular Affairs
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION - BELIZE
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION IN THIS CIRCULAR RELATING TO THE
LEGAL REQUIREMENTS OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN COUNTRIES IS PROVIDED
FOR GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY. QUESTIONS INVOLVING
INTERPRETATION OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN LAWS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO
NOTE: BELIZEAN LAW PROHIBITS THE ISSUANCE OF AN ADOPTION ORDER
UNLESS THE APPLICANT AND INFANT RESIDE IN BELIZE AND THE INFANT
IS A BELIZEAN CITIZEN. RESIDENCE HAS BEEN DEFINED IN THE PAST
AS EITHER PHYSICALLY RESIDING IN BELIZE FOR A MINIMUM OF SIX
MONTHS OR POSSESSION OF BELIZEAN CITIZENSHIP.
GENERAL: U.S. citizens attempting to adopt a Belizean child
must comply with Belizean law, U.S. Immigration law, and any
state pre-adoption requirements (including home studies and
finger print checks). Prospective adoptive parent(s) should
exercise due diligence to ensure that they are dealing with
reputable agencies and lawyers. Adopting parents should
thoroughly investigate the background of the prospective
adoptive child to ensure that they are not unknowing
accessories to any wrong-doing. The Embassy is on constant
guard against child-trafficking and urges adopting parent(s) to
do likewise. The American Embassy and the Department of State
stand ready to assist adoptive parents, within the limits of
our authority. Reports to the American Embassy or the
Department of State about successes or problems with foreign
adoptions are very useful and any assistance adoptive parents
can provide in this regard is much appreciated.
AVAILABILITY OF CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION: Recent U.S. immigrant
visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance
IR-3 Immigrant Visas IR-4 Immigrant Visas
Fiscal Issued to Belizean Issued to Belizean
Year Orphans Adopted Abroad Orphans Adopted in U.S.
FY-1988 2 3
FY-1989 1 3
FY-1990 5 5
FY-1991 2 2
FY-1992 3 3
FY-1993 4 1
FY-1994 2 1
BELIZEAN ADOPTION PROCEDURES:
Orphans in Belize may only be adopted through the judicial
process. There are no private adoptions or adoptions through
Judicial adoptions do not require a court decree declaring
that the infant has been abandoned. Since adoptions occur
before a Supreme Court Judge, only local attorneys may function
for the prospective parent(s). Those persons wishing
information on the forms and procedures to follow for adoptions
should contact a Belizean attorney.
AGE AND CIVIL STATUS REQUIREMENTS:
An adoption order cannot be made unless the applicant or,
in the case of joint application, one of the applicants is at
least twenty-five years old and is at least twenty-one years
older than the infant, unless the court finds extenuating
circumstances in favor of the adoption. Single men cannot
adopt infant females unless the court finds that special
circumstances warrant an exceptional adoption order.
Civil status is not relevant to adoption orders except in
the case of males adopting females.
Adoptions in Belize generally take two months.
Attorney fees range from $1,00 to $2,500 U.S. dollars.
U.S. citizens adopting a child in Belize should report any
exorbitant fees to the American Embassy or to the Department of
ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS:
There are no adoption agencies in Belize. Before sending a
first payment to a lawyer or representative, adopting parents
should make sure that costs are inclusive and not subject to
change. Attorneys in Belize speak English. A list of
attorneys is available from the American Embassy or the
Department of State.
BELIZEAN EMBASSY AND CONSULATES IN U.S.:
Embassy of Belize
2535 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
tel: (202) 332-9636
Permanent Mission of Belize
820 2nd Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10017
tel: (212) 599-0233
In addition, Belize has honorary consuls located throughout the
Embassy Interview with Biological Mother:
The Embassy requires that the biological mother be
interviewed on the day that she signs the irrevocable release
of parental rights over the child. The future petitioner or
legal representative must contact the Consular Section at least
one day in advance to schedule this interview. Interviews are
scheduled from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. every workday except
Friday. The biological mother must present her birth
certificate and social security card or passport. When the
interviewing consular officer determines that there are no
obstacles to the adoption, the biological mother will sign a
certification before the officer which must be presented to the
courts during adoption proceedings. The purpose of this
procedure is to ensure that the child qualifies for a visa
under U.S. law.
Before You Travel to Belize to Receive the Child:
Before you make plane reservations for yourselves or for an
escort and the child, make absolutely certain with your lawyer
or agency that the Belizean passport has been issued and the
INS approval cable has reached the U.S. Embassy. It can take
up to three weeks to receive the Belizean passport.
Scheduling Appointment With U.S. Consular Officer:
It is advisable to contact the Consular Section of the U.S.
Embassy in Belize City at least one day in advance to check
that the documents are in order and to set an appointment for
the immigrant visa interview. The Embassy cannot guarantee
issuance of the visa in advance of the interview. If you are
outside the U.S. and the child has completed his medical
examination, you will have a preliminary interview with the
consular officer in order to complete form I-604 "Request for
and Report on Overseas Orphan Investigation". The child must
be present at the Embassy for the immigrant visa application.
The medical examination must be performed by a physician from
an approved list of physicians using a specified form. Unless
special circumstances, such as a physical handicap, indicate
the child's care will be particularly costly, the adopting
parents will not be required to provide further proof of their
financial situation, as this information will have already been
provided at the time of petition (I-600A or I-600) approval.
What Documents to Bring With You to U.S. Embassy:
Note: Since each case is different, it is possible that the
Embassy 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:
1. An original of the child's birth certificate issued by the
Registrar indicating the name of both parents if known.
2. If either or both of the birth parents are deceased, an
original death certificate issued by Registrar General.
3. The certification of the natural mother signed before a
consular officer in those cases where the child has not been
declared abandoned by the court.
4. The original Adoption Certificate issued by the Registrar
5. The original adoption order signed by a Justice of the
Supreme Court of Belize.
6. A valid passport issued in the name of the adopted child.
7. Two 1 3/4 inch color visa photographs.
8. Medical examination (according to Embassy instructions).
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 indicating that they are 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. In
that case a separate notarized statement will not be required.
9. In cases where the minor has not been seen or observed in
person by the prospective adoptive parent(s), a notarized
statement by those parents will be required indicating that
although they have not seen or observed the minor in person,
they are nevertheless willing to adopt or re-adopt the minor in
the United States. Both parties must sign the I-600 after the
child has been identified. This means that if one party has
gone abroad to arrange the adoption, and the other remained in
the U.S., the I-600 must be sent by one spouse to the other
with the child's identity information completed and an original
signature of the spouse reflecting their concurrence with the
procedure. This is generally done by express courier in the
interests of time.
10. In the case of a minor taken to the United States by a
third party, for example a legal representative or social
assistant of an adoption agency or other entity, a notarized
statement will be required authorizing that person to take the
minor to the United States with the purpose of placing him/her
with the prospective adoptive parent(s). This statement can
also be included in the Judge's authorization for the child to
leave Belize. Note: There are no provisions in INS
regulations for approving petitions signed by agents with
powers of attorney. Consequently, even if an agent is
physically accompanying the child to the U.S., the petition
itself must be signed by the adoptive parent(s), after the
child has been identified.
Medical Examination Fee:
The adopted child must have a medical examination performed by
one of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate's panel physicians before
the immigrant visa can be issued. The cost of this medical
examination is approximately U.S. $50.00 and must be borne by
the adoptive parent(s).
U.S. Immigrant Visa Fee: The fee for the immigrant visa is
$200.00 and may be paid either in U.S. dollars or local
currency. This $200 does not include medical examinations,
costs of documents, the petition, etc. The American Embassy
does not accept personal checks or credit cards.
Prospective adopting parents should consult INS publication No.
M-249, "The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive
Children" and the Department of State information flyer
AMERICAN EMBASSY ASSISTANCE:
Upon arrival in Belize to try to arrange an adoption, U.S.
citizens should register at the American Embassy, Consular
Section, American Citizens Services. The Embassy will be able
to provide information about any outstanding travel advisories
and to provide other information about the Bahamas including
lists of physicians, attorneys, interpreters and translators.
The American Embassy is located at 29 Gabourel Lane, Belize
City, Belize, Central America. tel: 011-501-2-35321.
QUESTIONS: Specific questions regarding adoptions in Belize
may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or
Consulate. You may also contact the Office of Children's
Issues, U.S. Department of State, Room 4800 N.S., 2201 C
Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, telephone (202)
647-2688 with specific adoption questions. Recorded
information concerning significant changes in adoption
procedures is available 24 hours a day at: (202) 736-7000, or
by automated fax (calling from the telephone on your fax
machine) at (202) 647-3000. If the country you are interested
in is not listed, procedures have not significantly changed.
Information on immigrant visas is available from the State
Department's Visa Office, at (202) 663-1225. This 24 hour
automated system includes options to speak with consular
officers during business hours for questions not answered in
the recorded material. Application forms and petitions for
immigrant visas are available from the U.S. Immigration and
Naturalization Service, the nearest office of which is listed
in the federal pages of your telephone book, under U.S.
Department of Justice.
In addition, the State Department publishes Consular
Information Sheets and Travel Warnings. Consular Information
Sheets are available for every country in the world, providing
information such as the location of the U.S. Embassy, health
conditions, political situations, and crime reports. When
situations are sufficiently serious that the State Department
recommends U.S. citizens avoid traveling to a country, a Travel
Warning is issued. Both Consular Information Sheets and Travel
Warnings may be heard 24 hours a day by calling the State
Department's Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202)
647-5225 from a touch-tone telephone. The recording is updated
as new information becomes available. In addition, this
information is accessible through the automated fax machine, as
above, and is also available at any of the 13 regional passport
agencies, field offices of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and
U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. Furthermore, you may
write in requesting information, sending a self-addressed,
stamped envelope to Overseas Citizens Services, Room 4811 N.S.,
2201 C St., N.W., U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
20520-4818. Finally, information is available through your
personal computer. If you have a computer and a modem, you can
access the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). This
service is free of charge, and may be reached at: (202)
647-9225. Consular Information Sheets and Travel Warnings may
also be accessed by subscribers to many on-line services. For
complete information on accessing consular information via
computer, please request document 1016, entitled "Consular
Information Program," from the automated fax system, which is
described in the preceding paragraph.
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