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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
     FOREIGN COUNSEL.
                                                                     
     
     
     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
     to orphans:
     
                   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
     extrajudicial processes.
     
         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.
     
     TIME FRAME:
     
         Adoptions in Belize generally take two months.
     

     BELIZEAN FEES:
     
         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
     State.
     
     
     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
     Consular Section
     2535 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
     Washington, D.C.  20008
     tel: (202) 332-9636
     
     Permanent Mission of Belize
     820 2nd Avenue
     Suite 922
     New York, N.Y.  10017
     tel: (212) 599-0233
     
     In addition, Belize has honorary consuls located throughout the
     United States.
     
     
     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
     General.
     
     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.
     
     U.S. FEES:
     
     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.
     
     ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
     
     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
     "International Adoptions".
     
     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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