BoliviaLast Updated: October 2009
Hague Adoption Convention Country?YES
Alerts & Notices
Adoption Notice: Procedural Barriers to Hague Adoptions April 26, 2013
- Hague Convention Information
Bolivia is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption ( Hague Adoption Convention ). Therefore all adoptions between Bolivia and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.
One of the requirements of the Convention is to have access to an authorized adoption agency in Bolivia to process inter-country adoptions. Unfortunately, to this date the Bolivian Government has not implemented regulations for international adoptions nor authorized any U.S. adoption agencies to operate in this country, making the process very difficult if not impossible. If your plan is to adopt a child and immediately go back to the U.S. you must meet all the requirements of the Convention.
Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Learn more.
- Who Can Adopt
Adoption between the United States and Bolivia is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Bolivia, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Bolivia also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
- RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: U.S. citizens must be legal residents of Bolivia in order to adopt in Bolivia.
- AGE REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adoptive parents must be between 25 to 50 years of age or 15 years older than the adopted child to adopt a child in Bolivia.
- MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: Bolivia allows both married and single people to adopt.
- Who Can Be Adopted
Because Bolivia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Bolivia must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Bolivia attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Bolivia's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.
In order to be eligible for adoption, a Bolivian child must be "abandoned." Abandonment is a legal finding made by the Bolivian court, and must occur before the child is assigned to prospective adoptive parents. In effect, this prohibits so-called "direct" adoptions, in which the birth parent gives a child directly (or via an intermediary) to specific prospective adoptive parents for adoption. In addition, this effectively bars adoptive parents from searching for and locating a child on their own. Prospective adoptive parents must work with the Vice-Ministry of Gender and Generational Affairs to locate a child that is eligible for adoption.
Adoption proceedings can, by law, take from 25 to 45 working days from the date of the first hearing, although it is not uncommon for the procedures to take even longer. The length of the process often depends on which court has jurisdiction over the case.
- How To Adopt
Bolivia's Adoption Authority
The governmental authority responsible for adoption matters in Bolivia is the Vice-Ministry of Gender and Generational Affairs (Viceministerio de Género y Asuntos Generacionales), which may be reached via the following contact information:
Because Bolivia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Bolivia must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.
NOTE: If you filed your I-600a with BoliviaY before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more .
- Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be Matched with a Child
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
- Adopt the Child in Bolivia
- Bring your Child Home
- Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:
The first step in adopting a child from Bolivia is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Bolivia. Learn more.
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:
After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
Once the U.S. government determines that you are "eligible" and "suitable" to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Bolivia. Bolivia's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Bolivia's law.
- Be Matched with a Child:
If both the United States and Bolivia determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Bolivia may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particfular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
Once the prospective adoptive parents are matched with a child, they must then apply to the Bolivian court that has jurisdiction over the child. A Bolivian attorney must submit the request for adoption to the Vice-Ministry of Gender and Generational Affairs along with a copy a social worker's report of the prospective adoptive child.
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.
After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application for to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities. If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify the Bolivia's adoption authority (Article 5 letter). For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place.
Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
- Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Bolivia:
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Bolivia, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Bolivia.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Bolivia generally includes the following:
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: Once the final adoption decree has been issued, the adoption is recorded in a national registry maintained by the Vice-Ministry of Gender and Generational Affairs. At this point, at least one of the adoptive parents will need to the I-800A and I-800 in the United States with the Department of Homeland Security. If approved, the 800 petition will be returned to the Consular Section's Immigrant Visa (IV) Unit in La Paz for visa processing. The Immigrant Visa Unit will then coordinate with the adoptive parents to arrange an immigrant visa interview on behalf of the child. For further information regarding U.S. immigration requirements and how to apply for a visa for adoptive children, please see the sections below entitled "U.S. Immigration Requirements" and "Applying for a Visa for Your Child at the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia."
- TIME FRAME: Bolivian adoptions can be time-consuming. Recent experience suggests that the total time required will be several months to over one year. When a married couple is adopting, it is sufficient for one spouse to remain in Bolivia for the duration of the adoption process; it is not necessary that both do so. However, both adoptive parents must be present for the preliminary hearing on provisional placement, the evaluation, and the ratification of the adoption by the court. At least one prospective adoptive parent should plan to stay in Bolivia for approximately four to six weeks. Adoptive parents are advised NOT to make travel plans for an adoptive child until they have the child's U.S. visa. The Immigrant Visa Unit at the U.S. Embassy in La Paz will do its best to process adoption visa paperwork quickly; however, unexpected delays in the adoption process are possible. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and consular officials have no authority to intervene in any Bolivian legal process.
- ADOPTION FEES: In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
The U.S. Embassy in Bolivia discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted, "donations," or "expediting" fees, that may be requested from prospective adoptive parents. Such fees have the appearance of "buying" a baby and put all future adoptions in Bolivia at risk.
- DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: The following is a general list of documents that are required for adoption in Bolivia. Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that other documents may be required. Prospective adoptive parents are advised to have several extra copies of each document on hand when traveling to Bolivia. Documents to be submitted by the prospective adoptive parents include (but are not limited to) the following:
- The adoptive parents' birth certificates;
- The adoptive parents' marriage certificate(s), if applicable;
- Home study conducted by an approved adoption service provider;
- Physical and psychological health certificates;
- Financial and employment certifications
- 2-3 Personal references and police clearances;
- Evidence that prospective parent(s) has participated in and completed a parenting workshop (this may be undertaken in the United States).
Each document must be authenticated in the United States (see the following section for information regarding the authentication of documents).
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.
- Bringing Your Child Home:
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
- Birth Certificate
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
- Bolivian Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Bolivia.
- U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.
Prospective adoptive parents should advise the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia when Bolivian adoption formalities have been completed and provide the Consular Section with originals and one set of copies of the documents listed below.
- Original Birth Certificate of the child;
- Original New Birth Certificate of the child;
- Medical Certificate of the child;
- Copy of valid passports of adoptive parents;
- Copy of child's Bolivian passport;
- Final Decree of Adoption of the child; and
- Other documents as requested by consular officials.
Note: Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes at least 24 hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times at the appropriate consulate or embassy before making final travel arrangements.
- Birth Certificate
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.
- Traveling Abroad
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Bolivia. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print-all in one place.
Obtaining Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for Bolivia, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Bolivia, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
- After Adoption
What does Bolivia require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
We strongly urge you to comply with the wish of Bolivia and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country's history of positive experiences with American parents.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here is a good place to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
- Contact Information
U.S. Embassy in Bolivia
American Embassy - Consular Section
Avenida Arce 2780, between calles Cordero and Campos
La Paz, Bolivia
Bolivia's Adoption Authority
Av. 16 de Julio #1219
La Paz, Bolivia
Telephone: 591 - 2 - 212 4725; 591- 2 -212 4727
Embassy of Bolivia in the United States:
3014 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 483-4410
*Bolivia also has Consulates General in Houston, Miami, New York, Oklahoma City and Seattle
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)