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U.S. Department of State
1995:  International Adoption -- Bolivia
Bureau of Consular Affairs


     
     
                      INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION - BOLIVIA
     
                                                                     
     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.                                                
     
     GENERAL:  Although adoption of children in Bolivia by
     foreigners remains a sensitive issue, the Bolivian courts are
     willing to approve such adoptions.  The extremely careful
     application of Bolivian regulations concerning adoption by the
     Bolivian Juvenile Courts and the regional Directorates for
     Minors is a result of changes in Bolivian adoption law and
     practice in the last decade in an effort to combat questionable
     adoption practices.  Adoptive parents, single or married, must
     be over the age of 25. 
     
     Bolivian law does not allow a natural parent to voluntarily
     relinquish his/her parental rights.  This must be done by a
     Bolivian court.  
     
     BOLIVIAN ADOPTION LAW:  Adoption law in Bolivia has changed as
     a result of a new Minors Code (Codigo del Menor, Ley Numero
     1403) which was signed by the President on December 18, 1992. 
     As a result of this law, a Minors Court was established, with
     Judges of Minors assigned to make decisions regarding
     adoptions.  The process of selecting the Judges of Minors began
     in November 1994 and continued through January 1995. 
     A Judge of Minors determines whether to place a particular
     child with prospective adoptive parents.  
     
     There are key provisions in the new law that affect foreign
     adoptions.  For instance, Article 98 states that foreigners who
     wish to adopt a Bolivian child must work through organizations
     legally authorized, accredited and registered with the Bolivian
     welfare organization called the Organismo Nacional del Menor,
     Mujer y Familia (ONAMFA).  The address of this organization
     is:  Edificio Loteria Nacional, Casilla 5960, La Paz. 
     Telephone:  591-2-376862.  Fax:  591-2-366763.  
     
     ONAMFA approves adoption agencies and serves as advisor on the
     suitability of the decision to place a child with adoptive
     parents.  ONAMFA conducts psychological or social studies for
     the courts, and must grant approval before a child may leave
     the country.

     Foreign organizations wishing to process adoptions in Bolivia
     must submit a letter of intent (cartas de intenciones) to
     ONAMFA.  ONAMFA reports that post-adoption evaluations will be
     required on a periodic basis for 5 years after the adoptive
     families have left Bolivia.  
     
     Several adoption agencies based in the U.S. are approved to
     process Bolivian adoptions.  An updated listing of such
     agencies may be obtained from ONAMFA.  These agencies work with
     Bolivian attorneys who are responsible for ensuring that the
     adoption meets the requirements of Bolivian and U.S law.
     
     In theory, the new adoption practices will be efficient. 
     According to Article 102 of the new Codigo del Menor,
     applications for adoptions which are submitted by international
     organizations will be directed by ONAMFA to a judge of the
     Minors Court within 48 hours.  Article 104 states that the
     prospective adoptive parents must be in Bolivia from the time
     of the first hearing before the Judge of Minors.  The final
     judgement by the judge is not to take more than 30 days.
     
     Foreign adoptive parents are required to adopt Bolivian
     children (adopcion plena), which differs from the previous
     practice of granting them legal custody (tutela) with the
     stated intention of taking the child abroad for adoption. 
     Adopciones plenas are irrevocable.
     
     The new law also allows for the adoption of children by parents
     who already have biological children.
     
     TIME FRAME:  Most cases take four to six weeks once the
     adoptive parents are in Bolivia.  However, unexpected delays
     have occurred even in the final stages of the adoption
     process.  The U.S. Embassy is also aware of cases in which
     adoptive parents have been required to travel to Bolivia more
     than once and one case in which one member of a couple stayed
     in Bolivia for three months.  The Embassy cannot issue the
     child an immigrant visa until all Bolivian processing is
     completed.  
     
     BOLIVIAN EMBASSY AND CONSULATES GENERAL IN THE U.S.:  
     
     Embassy of Bolivia
     Consular Section
     3014 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.,
     Washington, D.C.  20008
     tel:  (202) 483-4410
     
     Bolivian Consulates General are also located in San Francisco,
     Miami, New York City and Houston.
     
     
     U.S. EMBASSY ASSISTANCE:  Upon arrival in Bolivia 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 Bolivia including lists of physicians,
     attorneys, interpreters and translators.  Adoptive parents are
     welcome to share information on their adoption experiences with
     the Embassy, which is located at Avenida Arce, Esquina Cordero,
     La Paz. Telephone:  591-2-430251.  Fax:  591-2-433854.
     
     QUESTIONS:  Specific questions regarding adoptions in Bolivia
     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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