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


     
                INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION - DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
     
     
                                                                     
     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:    While the Dominican Republic permits adoptions by
     foreigners, the process is difficult and time-consuming.  New
     changes to the child custody law require adoptive parents to
     reside in the Dominican Republic at least 90 days (and in some
     cases longer) while the Secretariat of Public Health reviews
     their case.  In cases where the Dominican Republic has already
     declared a child abandoned, adoptive parents may be given legal
     guardianship with the intent of adoption in the United States. 
     A child may only be removed from the Dominican Republic after
     the adoption has been granted by the Dominican court if the
     adopting parents present a U.S. immigrant visa to the Dominican
     Attorney General, who then provides an exit authorization
     letter.
     
     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 Dominican           Issued to Dominican
     Year       Orphans Adopted Abroad        Orphans Adopted in U.S.
     
     FY-1991            44                             6
     FY-1992            29                            13
     FY-1993            36                             3
     FY-1994            13                             4
     
     DOMINICAN ADOPTION AUTHORITY:
     
     The Secretaria de Salud Publica y Prevision Social (comparable
     to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), is the
     government agency which is responsible for overseeing adoptions
     in the Dominican Republic.  Their main office is located at
     Avenida San Cristobal esq. Avenida Tiradentes, Ensanche La Fe,
     Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, tel:  (809) 565-3218. 
     Inquiries should be in the Spanish language.
     
     DOMINICAN ADOPTION LAW:
     
     Adoption is governed by Chapter III, Title VII of the Dominican
     Civil Code.  
     
     DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ADOPTION PROCEDURES:
     
     Relinquishment of Parental Rights of the Natural Parent(s):
     
     Consent of the natural parents is required under Dominican law
     in order to adopt a minor child.  If one of the parents is
     deceased or is incapable of expressing his or her will, the
     consent of the other parent is considered sufficient under
     Dominican law.  If the parents are separated or divorced, the
     consent of the parent having custody is essential.  If the
     parent not having custody has not given his or her consent,
     said parent must be notified of the impending adoption.  Three
     months must elapse after the notification before the adoption
     can be pronounced or finalized.  The consent of the natural
     parents may be incorporated into the adoption decree or it may
     be given in a separate sworn statement before a notary, before
     a Justice of the Peace of the domicile of the child.  (PLEASE
     NOTE: a child with two living parents who has not be
     surrendered to an orphanage irrevocably and parental rights
     terminated by foreign competent authority may not meet the
     definition of orphan under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality
     Act and thus may not be eligible for a U.S. immigrant visa. 
     Prospective adoptive parents should be certain to ascertain
     from the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. Immigration and
     Naturalization Service that the child will meet the
     requirements of the INA before concluding the adoption.)
     
     Abandonment:
     
     If both parents of the minor child are deceased or if they are
     incapable of expressing their will, the consent can be given by
     the legal representative of the child.  When the parents are
     unknown, the consent is given by the child's legal guardian. 
     The legal guardian is appointed by the Secretaria de Salud
     Publica y Prevision Social or by a judicial authority.
     
     Judicial Proceedings:
     
     The adoption proceedings take place in a Dominican court of
     law.  The court issues the adoption decree which must be
     pronounced or finalized at a public hearing.  An extract of the
     decree is published in the Official Gazette (Gaceta Oficial)
     and in a newspaper with wide national circulation.  Within
     three months of the public pronouncement of the decree, the
     adoption is entered at the Civil Registry where the child was
     born.  The adoption must also be entered in the Central Civil
     Registry in Santo Domingo and at the Board of Elections (Junta
     Central Electoral).
     
     AGE AND CIVIL STATUS:
     
     Under Dominican law, an individual must be 40 years of age in
     order to adopt a Dominican child.  However, two individuals who
     have been married for more than 20 years and have not had a
     child of the marriage may adopt a child if one of the spouses
     is over the age of 35.  
     

     FEES:
     
     If a private attorney is retained, the cost can be as high as
     five thousand dollars, but this includes locating the child and
     providing a caretaker and room and board until the child is
     turned over to the adopting parent(s).
     
     TIME:
     
     The entire adoption process in the Dominican Republic, from the
     original release of the child for adoption to the final
     adoption decree may take six months or more.
     
     ATTORNEYS AND ADOPTION AGENCIES:
     
     Adoptions can be arranged through private adoption agencies
     working with Dominican attorneys or directly with Dominican
     attorneys.
     
     DOMINICAN EMBASSY AND CONSULATES IN U.S.:
     
     Embassy and Consulate of the Dominican Republic
     1715 22nd Street, N.W.
     Washington, D.C.  20008
     tel:   (202) 332-6280
     
     Consulate of the Dominican Republic
     17 West 60th Street
     New York, N.Y.  10023
     tel:   (212) 265-0630
     
     In addition, the Dominican Republic has honorary consuls
     located throughout the United States.
     
     U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS:
     
     Orphans adopted abroad who have been in the custody of the
     adoptive parents less than two years require orphan petitions
     for U.S. immigrant visa processing to enter the United States.
     
     Get Started Early With U.S. Immigration Procedure:
     
     Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that, whether they
     identify a child prior to leaving the U.S. or locate the child
     on a trip to the Dominican Republic, certain very time
     consuming processes will have to be completed before the
     required U.S. Immigration petition(s) (either the preliminary
     I-600A or the final I-600 petitions) can be approved.  These
     include, but are not limited to satisfactory completion and
     submission to INS of a home study of the adopting parent(s),
     compliance with any state pre-adoption conditions and a
     fingerprint check by INS of those parent(s), certified copy of
     prospective adoptive parents' birth certificate in U.S. or
     other evidence of U.S. citizenship; certified copy of marriage
     certificate (if applicable); certified copy of death 
     certificate or divorce decree reflecting termination of
     previous marriage (if applicable).  It is therefore suggested
     that prospective adopting parents get in touch with the INS
     office having jurisdiction over their place or residence in the
     U.S. at the earliest opportunity.
     
     Unconditional Abandonment and Meeting the Definition of Orphan:
     
     U.S. law provides for the immigration of children adopted
     overseas by Americans under section 101(B)(1)(F) of the
     Immigration and Nationality Act.  The law states that an
     eligible child must be under the age of sixteen at the time the
     immigrant visa petition is filed.  The child must have no
     living parents or only one living parent who is incapable of
     providing for the child according to local living standards and 
     has irrevocably released the child for emigration and
     adoption.  A child with two living parents can meet the 
     definition of an orphan only through the disappearance of,
     abandonment or desertion by or separation or loss from both
     parents.  Abandonment of a child must be unconditional. 
     Agreeing to give a child up for adoption by a specific person 
     does not constitute unconditional abandonment, since the
     parents are giving up custody with the understanding that the
     child will be cared for and will be adopted by a particular
     individual.  The Board of Immigration Appeals of the U.S.
     Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has ruled that a
     child with one surviving parent who has not been abandoned may
     qualify for orphan status only if the sole surviving parent is
     destitute by local standards or is otherwise physically or
     mentally unable to care for the child.  This means that the
     child may not be classified as an orphan unless the sole or
     surviving parent cannot provide the child the nourishment and
     shelter necessary for subsistence consistent with the local 
     standards of the child's place of residence.  The parent must
     also irrevocably release the child for emigration and
     adoption.  INS usually requires consular officers to
     investigate the parent's inability to care for the child.
     
     Consular Authority to Approve a Case:
     
     Under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), consular
     officers can only approve clearly approval I-600 petitions.  If
     there are any questions regarding the eligibility for orphan
     status or whether petition conditions have been met, consular
     officers must refer these petitions to the nearest INS office.
     
     Taking the Child to the U.S.:
     
     The U.S. immigrant visa petition (I-600) may be filed for the
     child at the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
     or any INS office.  If it is filed at the Embassy, the
     petitioner (or at least one of the members of a married
     adoptive couple) and the child must be physically present in
     the consular district.  The I-600 is filed by one person, but 
     if the petitioner is married, the petitioner's spouse must also
     sign the petition.  Both parties must sign the I-600 after the
     child has been identified.  This means that if one party has
     already gone abroad to arrange the adoption, the I-600 must be
     sent by the spouse abroad to the spouse in the United States
     (generally by express courier).  If the petitioner is married
     and his or her spouse has not seen the child before or during
     the adoption proceedings, then the child must be readopted in
     the U.S.  To do this, the petitioner must show he or she has
     met state pre-adoption requirements.  INS makes this
     determination at the time the I-600A is filed or it must be
     established that pre-adoption requirements have been met at the
     time of filing the I-600 at the Embassy.
     
     If the INS has already approved an I-600A advanced processing
     application, the I-600 petition may be filed and adjudicated at
     the post to which the I-600A was sent.  If advanced approval
     has not yet been granted, the I-600 petition must be forwarded
     to the INS for adjudication.  If so, as noted above, a home
     study and fingerprinting of parent(s) and any state
     pre-adoption requirements will be necessary, perhaps requiring
     several months.
     
     Scheduling Appointment With U.S. Consular Officer:
     
     It is advisable to contact the Consular Section of the U.S.
     Embassy in Santo Domingo 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.  Certified copy of child's birth certificate issued by the
     civil registrar indicating the name of both parents if known.
     
     2.  If birth father, mother, or both are deceased, certified
     copy of death certificate issued by civil registrar.
     
     3.  Relinquishment of parental rights executed before
     appropriate Dominican authority.
     
     4.  Adoption decree issued by a Dominican court.
     
     5.  Authorization from a Judge to permit the minor to leave the
     Dominican Republic.
     
     6.  Valid Dominican passport.
     
     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 the Dominican Republic.  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:
     
     INS Fees for I-600 and I-600A Petitions:  There is an INS fee
     of $155 for an I-600 or I-600A petition.  If you have a valid
     I-600A and file an I-600 within one year of the approval of the
     I-600A, no fee will be charged for the I-600 provided you are
     only petitioning for one child or for siblings.  If you are
     petitioning for more than one child and the children are not
     siblings, the I-600 fee will be charged.
     
     U.S. State Department authentication fee:  If you are having
     documents authenticated by the Department of State
     Authentication Office, there is a fee of $4.00 per document.
     
     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. $12.00 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 the Dominican Republic 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 Dominican Republic including lists of physicians,
     attorneys, interpreters and translators.  The American Embassy
     is located at the corner of Calle Cesar Nicolas Penson & Calle
     Leopoldo Nevarro, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, APO AA
     34041-0008, tel.  (809) 541-2171.

     QUESTIONS:  Specific questions regarding adoptions in the
     Dominican Republic 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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