There are many wonderful sources of information on adoption. This section is not meant to be a comprehensive survey, but rather to point you in the direction of resources and support for families interested in adoption from Colombia. Friends of FANA is NOT an adoption agency, but rather a parent-run support group for families, children, and young adults who have been touched by adoption from Colombia.
Adoption from Colombia is regulated carefully by the Colombian government as part of the Colombian Constitution. The Institute Colombiano Bienestar de Familia (Bienestar) manages the regulations and ensures that the intent of the constitutional mandate is upheld. Bienestar develops the guidelines that authorized Colombian orphanages must follow when making adoption placements. In addition, some placements are made directly through Bienestar.
In general, Bienestar places children with Colombian families first, and then allows international adoptions to take place. There is a list of criteria that adopting families must meet, but that list is fluid and changes from time to time. For the most up-to-date information, contact an adoption agency with a Colombia program. Agencies in the United States must be licensed by Bienestar in order to participate in Colombian adoptions.
Colombia is a participant in the Hague Convention on International Adoption. The Hague Convention sets out agreed upon norms and procedures to protect all parties in international adoption – the children, the birth parents, and the adoptive parents. The Hague Convention enters into force in the United States in 2007 but many agencies are already abiding by the proposed regulations.
What all this means for adopting families is that the process is generally predictable, once they have been accepted by a licensed adoption agency or group here in the US (although no process is ever perfect). For a fairly detailed discussion of the process, see the Colombia page at the US Dept. of State website below. Usually, families work through an agency or adoption organization that provides adoption education, a home study, and guides them through the paperwork required by the U.S. State Department, Immigration, the orphanage, and the Colombian court system.
Upon receiving a referral of a child, the family travels to Colombia to initiate the adoption petition in Colombia. Both parents must be present in Colombia, and one parent must stay in country with the child while waiting for the Colombian Adoption decree (Sentencia). That stay usually takes anywhere from 3-8 weeks. Once the decree is received, the adoption is finalized in Colombia. A new birth certificate and a passport are issued for the child and a U.S. Visa obtained for entrance into the United States.
Once home, families often re-adopt the child in the U.S. courts, obtaining a U.S. adoption decree. Many also obtain a birth certificate or certificate of foreign birth in their local jurisdiction in order to facilitate school enrollment and other needs. The child also needs a United States Social Security number. For more information relevant to the Colombian adoption process, see the following sites:
- US State Department Colombian adoption information.
- US State Department international adoption information, including Visa and citizenship information and a long list of reputable adoption resources.
- Bienestar, the Colombian Welfare department.
- Colombian Consulate (Washington DC) website includes detailed information on the adoption process.
- US Embassy in Bogotá website includes information on travel and general activities in Colombia.
- US Embassy in Bogotá Colombian adoption information also in found on their website.
- US State Department website has information on US Citizenship for adoptive children from other countries.
- US Citizenship and Immigration Services website has a resource page on inter-country adoptions.
- US Internal Revenue Service website has a discussion of adoption tax credits for adopting families.
If you are interested in adopting from Colombia and want to ask questions online of adoptive families, there are list serves available for that purpose. One is “Colombian Connections,” a list for adoptive families who have children from Colombia or are adopting from Colombia. To join, send a blank message to ColombianConnectionsemail@example.com or register on the web at Colombian Connections. The list owner, Patti Thompson, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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