Index of "International Adoptions Reports"
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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
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 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
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
BOLIVIAN EMBASSY AND CONSULATES GENERAL IN THE U.S.:
Embassy of Bolivia
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
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