Index of "International Adoptions Reports"
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U.S. Department of State
1995: International Adoption -- Guatemala
Bureau of Consular Affairs
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION - GUATEMALA
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: U.S. citizens attempting to adopt a Guatemalan child
must comply with Guatemalan law, U.S. immigration law, and any
state preadoption requirements (including home studies and
fingerprint checks). Child-trafficking is a serious problem in
Guatemala. Prospective adoptive parents should exercise due
diligence to ensure that they are dealing with reputable
agencies and lawyers. Adoptive parents should thoroughly
investigate the background of the prospective adoptive child to
ensure that they are not unknowing accessories to any
wrongdoing. The Embassy is on constant guard against
child-trafficking and urges adoptive parents to do likewise.
The American Embassy and the Department of State stand ready to
assist adoptive parents within the limits of their 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 Guatemalan Issued to Guatemalan
Year Orphans Adopted Abroad Orphans Adopted in U.S.
FY-1991 271 58
FY-1992 363 54
FY-1993 358 154
FY-1994 303 132
GUATEMALAN ADOPTION AUTHORITY:
Responsibility for adoption in Guatemala rests with a variety
of government entities including social services, the
Ministerio Publico (roughly the equivalent of the Attorney
General's office) and the courts.
GUATEMALAN ADOPTION PROCEDURES:
There are two ways to adopt a child in Guatemala. The first is
through a lawyer (private adoption/extrajudicial process); the
second is through a Guatemalan Government-recognized adoption
agency or orphanage in Guatemala (public adoption/judicial
Private Adoption: The private (extrajudicial) route is much
more common. Under this procedure, the biological parent makes
a declaration to an attorney that she/he gives her/his
unconditional consent to release her/his child for adoption.
The attorney usually represents both the biological parent and
the adoptive parents. The only Guatemalan Government role in a
routine case of this nature is a required document review by
the Attorney General's office, and a social worker's report on
the biological parent and adoptive parents. With a power of
attorney, a lawyer or legal firm undertakes to locate a child
or to do the legal work on a child already identified. The
lawyer will need the adoptive parents' documents as early as
possible. The basic Guatemalan documents are the child's birth
certificate, and the irrevocable consent of relinquishment of
parental rights of the child's remaining biological
parent--usually the mother. If both parents are alive, an
irrevocable release is insufficient for U.S. immigration
purposes and the child must be declared abandoned by a
Guatemalan court. The lawyer then asks the family court to
assign a social worker to perform a "social study" of the
biological mother, family circumstances and the child. The
social worker also analyzes the American home study. If the
resulting recommendation is favorable, the lawyer then submits
the case to the Ministerio Publico for review. If the
Ministerio Publico approves the case, the lawyer then draws up
the final notarial deed of adoption, obtains a new birth
certificate in the adoptive parents' names, and obtains a
Guatemalan passport in the child's new name.
Public Adoption: Public adoptions (judicial) require a court
decree declaring that the child has been abandoned. The
process grants considerable discretion to the judges, both in
terms of the time that the process takes and the basis on which
the decision is made, and normally takes over a year. Thus,
the judicial process is only used when the parents are known to
have died or deserted the child rather than when a parent
wishes to give up a child. The first step is to request,
complete and return the Guatemalan agency's application form,
together with whatever documents may be required. The agency
will inform the adoptive parents regarding acceptance, fees,
timing, and any other requirements, such as whether or not they
must travel to Guatemala.
AGE AND CIVIL STATUS REQUIREMENTS:
Married persons 25 years or older may adopt under the laws of
Guatemala. Guatemalan law permits a single woman 25 years or
older to adopt, but does not permit an unmarried man to adopt.
Private adoption in Guatemala takes three to six months on
average. Public adoption takes on average one to two years.
Attorneys' fees range from $5,000 to as high as $15,000 per
case. U.S. citizens adopting a child in Guatemala should
report any exorbitant fees to the American Embassy or the
Department of State.
ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS:
Before sending a first payment to either an attorney or an
agency, adoptive parents should make sure that costs are
inclusive and not subject to change. A list of
English-speaking attorneys is available from the American
Embassy or the Department of State. The following Guatemalan
adoption agencies have been recognized by the Government of
The Department of State and the Embassy assume no
responsibility for the professionalism or caliber of any
private adoption agency or facilitator.
Hogar Elisa Martinez
Director of Adoption Program
Secretaria de Bienestar Infantil y Familiar
4a. Avenida 15-64, Zona 1
Guatemala City, Guatemala
A.G.A.N.D. (Asociacion Guatemalteca de Ayuda para el Nino
15 Calle 5-20, Zona 11
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Hogar Campestre Adventista "Los Pinos"
Director: Alcyon Ruth Fleck
15 Avenida 19-62, Zona 13
Apartado Postal 35-C
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Sociedad Protectora Del Nino Tel. (502)-22-8965
Asociacion Desarrollo Integral Del
Nino De Escasos Recursos Tel. (502)-253-1895
Vision Mundial Tel. (502)-273-3245
Asociacion Del Nino Por El Nino
(Anini) Tel. (502)-251-0691
GUATEMALAN DOCUMENTARY REQUIREMENTS:
Note: Adopting parents should use their full names in all
documents. A woman, if married, should be sure to indicate her
maiden name as well as her married name wherever her name
Certified copy of marriage certificate (if applicable)
Certified copy of home study
Power of attorney, if dealing with an attorney; application,
if dealing with an agency, with the name of the child to be
Two or three letters of recommendation
Police clearance from prospective adoptive parents' town of
Passport-size photos of adoptive parents
Clearance from medical doctor
Proof of economic solvency (income, employment, savings,
All English-language documents must be accompanied by a
certified Spanish translation.
In addition, all foreign (U.S.) documents, including the
translation certificate, must be authenticated.
Generally, U.S. civil records, such as birth, death, and
marriage certificates, must bear the seal of the issuing office
and then be authenticated by the appropriate State Secretary of
State in the U.S., the U.S. Department of State's
Authentications Office, and the Guatemalan Embassy or nearest
Tax returns, medical reports and police clearances should
likewise be authenticated, beginning with the seal of a notary
public in the United States, or some appropriate issuing
office. The notary's seal should be authenticated by the
clerk-of-court of the county where the notary is licensed, or
some similar authority. The document should then be
authenticated by the appropriate State Secretary of State in
the U.S., the U.S. Department of State's Authentications
Office, and the Guatemalan Embassy or nearest Consulate.
The U.S. Department of State's Authentications Office is
located at 2400 M Street, N.W., Room 101, Washington, D.C.
20520, tel: (202) 647-5002. Walk-in service is available from
8 a.m. to 12 noon Monday-Friday, except holidays. The
Department charges $4.00 per document for this service, payable
in the form of a check drawn on a U.S. bank or money order made
payable to the Department of State.
It is advisable to bring several copies of the authenticated
documents with you to Guatemala.
GUATEMALAN EMBASSY AND CONSULATES GENERAL IN THE U.S.:
Embassy of Guatemala
2220 R St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
tel: (202) 745-4952
Consulate General of Guatemala
2500 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 820
Los Angeles, CA 90057
tel: (213) 365-9251
Consulate General of Guatemala
870 Market St., Suite 667
San Francisco, CA 94102
tel: (415) 788-5651
Consulate General of Guatemala
300 Sevilla Ave., Suite 210
Coral Gables, FL 33134
tel: (305) 443-4828
Consulate General of Guatemala
180 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1035
Chicago, IL 60601
tel: (312) 332-1587
Consulate General of Guatemala
57 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10016
tel: (212) 686-3837
Consulate General of Guatemala
10200 Richmond Ave., Suite 270
Houston, TX 77042
tel: (713) 953-9531
In addition, there are Guatemalan 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 review INS brochure M2694Y
for information regarding the INS petition process for a child
adopted abroad. In addition, parents should review the U.S.
Department of State brochure on International Adoption for
important general information regarding International
Unconditional Abandonment and Meeting the Definition of Orphan:
U.S. law provides for the immigration of children adopted
overseas by U.S. citizens under section 101(B)(1)(F) of the
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 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
parent(s) is/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.
Embassy Interview with Birth Mother:
On November 1, 1990, the Embassy began requiring an interview
with the biological mother. This interview can impact on the
overall time necessary to complete visa processing.
Before You Travel to Guatemala to receive the child:
Before you make airline reservations for yourselves or for an
escort and the child, make absolutely certain with your
attorney/agency that the Guatemalan passport has been issued
and the INS approval cable has reached the U.S. Embassy. It
can take several weeks to receive the Guatemalan passport. If
neither parent is planning to travel to Guatemala for the visa
interview, the Embassy must have the formal cable from INS
indicating its approval of the I-600 petition. In all other
cases, the Embassy must have an INS cable indicating current
preapproval of the parents to adopt an unspecified child. The
parents will then have to submit the I-600 petition at the visa
Scheduling an Appointment for the Visa Interview:
It is advisable to contact the Consular Section of the U.S.
Embassy in Guatemala 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 or her 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
that the child's care will be particularly costly, the adoptive
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 the 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 names of both parents, if known
2. If birth father, mother or both are deceased, certified
copy of death certificate(s) issued by civil registrar
3. Relinquishment of parental rights executed before the
appropriate Guatemalan authority, or the declaration of
abandonment issued by the "Juzgado de Menores"
4. The natural mother's certification signed before a consular
officer in those cases where the child has not been declared
abandoned by a court
5. Certified copy of the decree of the Ministerio Publico
approving the adoption
6. Certified copy of the final deed authorizing the adoption
7. Valid Guatemalan passport
8. Two 1 3/4-inch color visa photographs
9. Medical examination (according to Embassy instructions).
If the minor has a physical and/or mental disability, a
notarized statement will be required from the prospective
adoptive parents in the U.S. indicating that they are fully
aware of the physical and/or mental disability of the minor,
and in spite of that fact 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.
NOTE: The Embassy medical examination is not a complete
physical, and primarily focuses on medical ineligibilities.
Adoptive parents who desire a complete physical examiniation of
their child should make such arrangements privately.
10. 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 U.S. 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 has remained in the
U.S., the I-600 must be sent by one spouse to the other with
the child's identity information completed. An original
notarized signature of the spouse in the U.S. reflecting his or
her concurrence with the procedure must be obtained. This is
generally done by express courier in the interest of time.
11. In the case of a minor taken to the U.S. 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 U.S.
for 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 Guatemala. 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.
INS Fees for I-600 and I-600A Petitions: There is an INS fee
of $155 for filing 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's
Authentications Office, there is a fee of $4.00 per document.
The adopted child must have a medical examination performed by
one of the U.S. Embassy's panel physicians before the immigrant
visa can be issued. The cost of this medical examination is
approximately $12.00 and must be borne by the adoptive
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 adoptive parents should consult INS publication No.
M-249, "The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive
Children," and the Department of State's information flyer,
U.S. EMBASSY ASSISTANCE:
Upon arrival in Guatemala to try to arrange an adoption, U.S.
citizens should register at the U.S. Embassy, Consular Section,
American Citizens Services Division. The Embassy will be able
to provide information about any existing travel warnings and
to provide other information about Guatemala including lists of
physicians, attorneys, interpreters and translators. The
American Embassy is located at 7-01 Avenida de la Reforma, Zone
10, Guatemala City, Guatemala, tel: 011-502-231-1541, fax:
QUESTIONS: Specific questions regarding adoptions in Guatemala
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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