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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
     FOREIGN COUNSEL.                                                
     
     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
     to orphans: 
     
                  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
     process).
     
     
     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.
     
     TIMEFRAME:
     
     Private adoption in Guatemala takes three to six months on
     average.  Public adoption takes on average one to two years.
     
     GUATEMALAN FEES:
     
     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
     Guatemala.  
     
     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
     Tel: 502-22-67-47
     A.G.A.N.D. (Asociacion Guatemalteca de Ayuda para el Nino

     Desamparado)
     15 Calle 5-20, Zona 11
     Guatemala City, Guatemala
     tel:  502-273-1880
     
     Hogar Campestre Adventista "Los Pinos"
     Director:  Alcyon Ruth Fleck
     15 Avenida 19-62, Zona 13
     Apartado Postal 35-C
     Guatemala City, Guatemala
     tel:  502-231-0056
               231-6197
     
     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
                                                       246-4748
     
     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
     appears.
     
        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
     adopted
     
        Two or three letters of recommendation
     
        Police clearance from prospective adoptive parents' town of
     residence
     
        Passport-size photos of adoptive parents
     
        Clearance from medical doctor
     
        Proof of economic solvency (income, employment, savings,
     mortgage, etc.)

     Translation Requirements:
     
     All English-language documents must be accompanied by a
     certified Spanish translation.
     
     Authentication Requirements:
     
     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
     Consulate.  
     
        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
     Consular Section
     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
     adoption.

     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
     interview.
     
     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.
     
     U.S. FEES:
     
     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
     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 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,
     "International Adoptions."
     
     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: 
     011-502-231-0564.
     
     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
     paragraph.
     
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