Ecuador

Last Updated: December 2012

Hague Adoption Convention Country?

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Hague Convention Information

Ecuador 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 Ecuador and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.

Ecuadorian law does not allow for an Ecuadorian child to travel to the United States to be adopted. Therefore, prospective adoptive parents must obtain a full and final adoption under Ecuadorian law before the child can immigrate to the United States.

Adoption in Ecuador can be a complicated process. Ecuadorian adoption law gives preference to adoptions made by Ecuadorian nationals within Ecuador. Intercountry adoptions are permitted only in exceptional cases, normally when there are no relatives or other Ecuadorians able to adopt orphans or become their guardians.

Who Can Adopt

Adoption between the United States and Ecuador is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Ecuador, 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, Ecuador also has the following eligibility requirements for prospective adoptive parents:

  • Residency Requirements: Prospective adoptive parent(s) must travel to Ecuador and expect to remain there for three to four weeks to finalize the adoption. Once an adoption decree is issued, only one parent needs to remain in Ecuador with the child, usually for an additional week.
  • Age Requirements: If married, both parents must be over 25 years of age and have been married for more than three years. There must be an age difference of at least 14 years between the younger parent and the child and no more than 45 years between either parent and the child.
  • Marriage Requirements: Both single and married individuals may adopt a child in Ecuador. Married couples must be heterosexual. An unmarried (single, widowed, or divorced) adoptive parent may only adopt a child of the same sex, unless the National Adoption Direction issues a favorable report for adoption of a child of the opposite sex. Priority is given to heterosexual married couples.
  • Other Requirements: The Childhood and Adolescence Court (Juzgado de la Niñez y Adolescencia) or a Notary Public must grant permission for the child to depart the country if only one member of the couple is present in Ecuador to travel with the child. This permission is only valid for one year. Additionally, prospective adoptive parents residing outside Ecuador may not adopt more than two children at a time, except in the case of sibling adoptions.
Who Can Be Adopted

Because Ecuador is a member of the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Ecuador must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Ecuador attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Ecuador's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States. Learn more about the Convention's requirements for adoptable children.

How To Adopt

Ecuador's Central Authority

National Council of Childhood and Adolescence, (Consejo Nacional de la Niñez y Adolescencia, CNNA).
Address: Mariscal Foch E4-38 entre Colon y Cordero Quito, Ecuador

Ecuadorian Adoption Authorities
The National Adoption Direction, the Family Assignment Committee ( Comité de Asignación Familiar) and The Technical Adoptions Unit (Unidad Técnnica Adopciones)

The Process

Because Ecuador is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Ecuador must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. This process will follow six primary steps. You must complete these steps in the following order to meet all necessary legal requirements for adoption.

NOTE: If you filed your I-600A with Ecuador before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption; it might continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for orphan adoptions. Learn more.

  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
  3. Be Matched with a Child
  4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
  5. Adopt the Child in Ecuador/li>
  6. Bringing the Child Home
  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:

    The first step in adopting a child from Ecuador is to select an accredited or approved adoption service provider in the United States that has signed an Agreement with the Government of Ecuador. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Ecuador. A list of U.S. accredited and approved adoption service providers may be obtained in person from the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Quito or Consulate General in Guayaquil or online from the Department of State. Learn more.

  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
    After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the 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 be an adoptive parent, your information will be forwarded to the Central Authority in Ecuador. The Technical Adoptions Unit will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Ecuadorian law.

  3. Be Matched with a Child:
    If both the United States and Ecuador determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, The Family Assignment Committee (Comites de Asignacion Familiar), will provide a referral for a child and assign a child to the prospective adoptive parent(s) and forward this information regarding the assigned child to the parent's(s') adoption service provider. You cannot identify a specific child that you would like to adopt prior to the referral. Prospective adoptive parent(s) must express acceptance of the referral in writing, after which, they must travel to Ecuador to complete the judicial part of the process. If married, both spouses are required to travel to Ecuador for an adaptation period. The length of the adaptation period with the child depends on each orphanage's policy and program, but it usually takes three or four days.

    After this, based on the prospective adoptive parents' relationship with the child, the orphanage will send a report to the Technical Adoption Unit. That office will then give the report along with other adoption documents to the adoption service provider's representative. The documents will be filed at the Minor's Court along with the adoption petition, which must be signed (jointly by the petitioners if a married couple). The judge will then schedule an appointment (usually one or two days later) with the prospective adoptive parent(s) to acknowledge the signature(s) on the adoption request. The prospective adoptive parent(s) must go personally to that appointment and bring their passport(s).

  4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:
    After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the USCIS for provisional approval to adopt that specific child (Form I-800, Petition to Classify a Convention adoptee as an Immediate Relative). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. immigration law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.

    If the Form I-800 is provisionally approved, DHS will send it to the NVC and the NVC will forward it to the U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Either you or your adoption service provider will submit a visa application to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities. If the Consular Officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he or she will notify the Central Authority (Consejo Nacional de la Niñez y Adolescencia, CNNA) and the Adoption Service Provider (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.
  5. Adopt the Child in Ecuador
    REMEMBER: Before you adopt a child, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption.

    The process for finalizing the adoption in Ecuador generally includes the following:
    • Role of The Court: The courts in Ecuador issue adoption decrees. The Childhood and Adolescence Court, Juzgado de la Niñez y Adolescencia, must grant permission for the child to depart the country if only one member of the couple is present in Ecuador to travel with the child.
    • Role of Adoption Service Providers: The Government of Ecuador requires that prospective adoptive parents work through an accredited or approved U.S. adoption service provider that has signed an Agreement with the Government of Ecuador. The agency can give you an estimate of the cost of an adoption in Ecuador. A list of these agencies may be obtained in person from the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Quito or Consulate General in Guayaquil.
    • Time Frame: The adoption process in Ecuador generally takes between nine and sixteen months to complete. Adopting families must first contact an Ecuadorian-approved U.S. adoption service provider that will provide general instructions about intercountry adoption procedures, and will assist prospective adoptive parents with the preparation and filing of preliminary U.S. immigration documentation. This process generally takes approximately three months (USCIS Form I-800A). An additional six months to one year is needed for further adjudication once these documents are forwarded to an agency or lawyer in Ecuador.
    • Adoption Fees: The cost of adoptions varies with different adoption service providers. 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. Learn more.
    • Documents Required: Certifications, notarizations and apostilles must be completed in the United States before the prospective adoptive parents travel to Ecuador or the application for adoption is submitted. Translations can be completed in Ecuador. Documents must be apostilled in the United States.

      The prospective adoptive parent(s) must present the following documents to the American adoption service provider which will represent them in Ecuador:
      • Certified copies of birth certificates of prospective adoptive parent(s);
      • Certified copy of marriage certificate and proof of termination of prior marriages (death certificates/divorce decrees), if applicable;
      • Certified copy of the state law that regulates the adoption of minors (especially foreign minors) in the adoptive parent's(s') state of U.S. residence;
      • Home study report on the adoptive parent(s) and institutional criteria on the suitability of the adoptive parent(s) from the entity performing the home study (all these documents are part of the I-800A);
      • Certificate of no criminal record for each adoptive parent from a local police department (an FBI report is acceptable in lieu of local police record);
      • Verification of employment and salary;
      • Notarized adoption authorization letter from the adoption service provider to the family certifying that the family is duly prepared to adopt an Ecuadorian child;
      • Certificate of physical and mental health of prospective adoptive parent(s); and
      • Photocopies of the passports of the prospective adoptive parent(s).

    The adoption hearing will take place three or four days after the judge schedules the meeting to verify signature(s). The judge will review the parent's(s') qualifications, including psychological and financial situations. After the hearing, prospective adoptive parent(s) and the judge sign the minutes. The judge will issue the final adoption decree unless the judge identifies false statements or documents.

    The adoption decree becomes final three days after issuance. At this point, the adoptive parent(s) can obtain a new birth certificate for their child from the Civil Registry Office. The new birth certificate will include the name(s) of parent(s) and any change of name for the child. With the new birth certificate, the parent(s) (or the adoption service provider on their behalf) can obtain an Ecuadorian identity card and Ecuadorian passport for the child.

  6. Bring Your Child Home

    Now that your adoption is complete, 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. In Ecuador, parents apply for the child's new birth certificate at the Civil Registry Office. Once the judge has issued a final adoption decree, parents may apply for the birth certificate.
    • Ecuadorean Passport
      Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he or she will need a travel document or passport from Ecuador.
    • 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 U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil for your child. After the adoption is granted, visit the Consular Section 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. Learn more.

      All immigrant visa cases for Ecuador are processed at the U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil. Since each case is unique, it is possible that the staff of the Consulate General will request additional documents after a preliminary review of the application of the prospective adoptive parent(s).

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 Ecuador. 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 Ecuador, 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 Ecuador, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Registration is free and can be done online.

After Adoption

What does Ecuador require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?

In accordance with the International Adoption agreement, the Central Authority has the responsibility to periodically follow up on the residence and living conditions of the adopted children.

The Central Authority will request annual reports from the international adoption agencies in accordance with international agreements.

Ecuadorian adoption law stipulates that the follow-up report must be completed quarterly during the first year and every six months during the second year.

Adoption follow-ups cease two years after the adoption date.


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 are some good places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

Contact Information

United States Embassy
Avigirias E12-170 y Eloy Alfaro
Quito - Ecuador
P.O. Box: 17-17-1538
Telephone: 011-593-2- 398-5000
Fax: 011-593-2- 398-5100

U.S. Consulate in Guayaquil
9 de Octubre y Garcia Moreno
Guayaquil, Ecuador
Tel: 011-593-4-2323-570 ext. 224, 222
Fax: 011-593-4-320-904, 011-593-4-2325-286

Ecuador's Central Authority
National Council of Childhood and Adolescence, (Consejo Nacional de la Niñez y Adolescencia, CNNA).
Address: Mariscal Foch E4-38 entre Colon y Cordero. Quito, Ecuador

Embassy of Ecuador
2535 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
Tel: (202) 234-7200
Fax: (202) 667-3482
Email: consuladodc@ecuador.org
Website: http://ecuador.org/main.htm

Note: Ecuador also has consulates in Chicago, Houston, Miami, Jersey City, New York, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Office of Children's Issues
U.S. Department of State  
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
Email: AskCI@state.gov
Website: http://adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures, contact the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833).