MexicoLast Updated: October 2011
Hague Adoption Convention Country?YES
Alerts & Notices
- Hague Convention Information
WARNING: Mexico is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Mexico before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter.” See the “How to Adopt” section for more information.
Mexico 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 Mexico and the United States must meet the requirements of The Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. law and regulations implementing the Convention.
The Mexican Central Authority is comprised of multiple entities including two federal authorities as well as an adoption authority in each of the 31 states. The two federal authorities are the Secretary of Exterior Relations, or Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE), which issues key Hague Adoption Convention documentation including the Article 23 Certificate, and the National System for the Full Development of the Family, or Sistema Nacional para el Desarollo Integral de la Familia (DIF), which coordinates national policy for child and family welfare, including processing of domestic and intercountry adoption cases. Both of these entities are federal and are based in Mexico City.
In addition to the two federal authorities named above, adoptions also involve one of the 31 state DIF offices, one in each Mexican state. The state DIF offices issue the Article 16 and Article 17 letters, important Hague Adoption Convention documentation. The civil code in each state may vary, so prospective adoptive parents need to be aware of and abide by the applicable laws of the state from which they plan to adopt. Though state and regional DIF offices play an important role in intercountry adoption cases, all intercountry adoptions must be processed in coordination with the federal DIF office and the SRE, which are the entities with the authority to certify Hague Convention compliance for intercountry adoptions.
Propective adoptive parents must submit their adoption application to the SRE through a U.S. based adoption service provider (ASP) that is both Hague Accredited in the U.S. AND approved to provide services in Mexico by the Mexican Central Authority. Mexico recently implemented a national authorization process for adoption service providers. Mexican state DIF offices may choose to accept national authorization of an ASP or may choose to implement their own authorization process for ASPs. However, working with an adoption service provider that has received only state authorization (and not national authorization) may cause the case to go through an end of process verification at the federal level. This could delay the adoption and possibly result in the Mexican Central Adoption's refusal to issue Hague certifications that are required for visa issuance. Prospective adoptive parents should take care to ensure that the ASP they choose to work with is both on the U.S. list of Hague accredited ASPs, as well as being authorized to provide services by both state and federal adoption authorities in Mexico.
Prospective adoptive parents who are dual Mexican and U.S. nationals are cautioned that only plenary or plena adoptions are considered valid for intercountry adoption. The Mexican legal framework provides for two adoption processes: simple (simple) adoption and plenary (plena) adoption. Under Mexican law, Mexican nationals and permanent residents of Mexico may complete a simple adoption, which involves a faster and simpler legal process than the longer and sometimes more difficult plena process. However, simple adoptions do not meet the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention. It is only possible to issue a U.S. Hague adoption visa to children adopted via a plena adoption. The plena adoption decree must mention that the dual national parents reside in the United States, and must clearly indicate that the adoption is an intercountry adoption.
- Who Can Adopt
Adoption between the United States and Mexico is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore, to adopt from Mexico, 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, Mexico also has the following eligibility requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
- RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Mexican adoption procedures include a one to three week pre-adoption trial period, during which the child lives with the prospective adoptive parent(s) in Mexico. Because of the large amount of paperwork in both the Mexican and American processes, the DIF suggests that adoptive parents be prepared to spend at least three months in Mexico including the pre-adoption trial period.
- AGE REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adoptive parents must be over 25 years of age and at least 17 years older than the child. If married, only one parent must meet the age requirement.
- MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adoptive parents may be married or single, male or female.
- INCOME REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adoptive parents must demonstrate the means to support the physical and educational needs of the child.
NOTE: While similar, each Mexican state does have its own civil code governing adoptions. Therefore, it is important to check with each state, as the laws among states will vary.
- Who Can Be Adopted
Because Mexico is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Mexico must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Mexico attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Mexico's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee in order to enter the United States to reside.
The Mexican Central Authority has informed the U.S. Department of State that Mexican children who meet any of the following conditions are eligible for placement through The Hague Convention Intercountry Adoption process:
- Children five years and older
- Children with a physical or mental disability
- Children who suffer from a disease that is costly to treat
- Sibling groups. (Children under 5 years of age may be adopted if siblings older than five are also being adopted.)
The process for legally adopting a child in the Republic of Mexico is long, involves multiple entities, and may be characterized by uncertainty and delay. Prospective adoptive parents are cautioned that uninformed or unscrupulous agents sometimes approach couples to complete an adoption outside of the legal framework described here. However, the Hague process must be followed precisely and in the correct order for an adopted child to be issued a Hague Convention Adoption Visa. Adoptive children who enter the United States without an immigrant visa may later encounter problems with obtaining legal residence and U.S. citizenship, enrollment in school and social security, etc., and also risk being deported to Mexico after reaching their 18th birthday, even if they have legal U.S.citizen parents under Mexican law.
- How To Adopt
Mexican Central Authority
The Mexican Central Authority for Adoptions is the Secretary for Exterior Relations, or the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE). The SRE is responsible for policy and issues key documentation certifying Hague compliance, including the Article 23 Certificate that the adoption or grant of custody occurred in compliance with the Convention. The SRE implements the Hague Convention through the National System for the Full Development of the Family, or the Sistema Nacional de Desarollo Integral de la Familia (DIF). The DIF is a public institution in Mexico in charge of implementing national policies on all matters pertaining to the family, and the implementation of domestic and intercountry adoptions resides in their purview, along with final execution of adoptions through the legal system.
Because Mexico is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Mexico 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 to meet all necessary legal requirements for adoption.
NOTE: If you filed your I-600A with Mexico before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption; it could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions.
- 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 Adoption
- Adopt the Child in Mexico
- Bring your Child Home
Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:
The first step in adopting a child from Mexico is to select an accredited or approved adoption service provider in the United States. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Mexico.
In addition, the adoption service provider MUST ALSO is approved by the Mexican Central Authority. The Mexican Central Authority evaluates adoption service providers for approval to provide services in Mexico. In order to obtain up to date information regarding which U.S. adoption service providers are authorized by the Mexican Central Authority to provide services in Mexico, prospective adoptive parents should consult with the national DIF in Mexico City (Sistema Nacional Para El Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (DIF); website: http://dif.sip.gob.mx/dif/?contenido=15). In addition, prospective adoptive parents may also wish to consult with the DIF in the state where the adoption will take place because procedures can vary by state.
Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:
After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, the next step is to apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read more about Eligibility Requirements.
Once the U.S. Government determines that you are “eligible” and “suitable” to adopt, your adoption service provider will forward your information to the Central Authority in Mexico. The DIF's Technical Council on Adoptions will convene to review your application and determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Mexican law. If approved, your name will be added to a waiting list of prospective adoptive parents maintained by DIF.
Be Matched with a Child:
If both the United States and Mexico determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the DIF may provide you with a referral for a child. DIF is the legal representative for abandoned children and provider of foster care for abused or orphaned minors. Though the regional or state DIF will likely play a role in the matching process, the referral must be approved by the national DIF office. Please note that the DIF matches eligible prospective adoptive parents with children who are on its list of children who are legally available for adoption, in accordance with relevant Mexican child welfare laws. Prospective adoptive parents decide at this point whether or not they will be able to meet the needs of the child referred to them by the DIF, and whether they will provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
When you receive a referral from DIF, it will arrive in the form of a letter directly to you or to your adoption service provider, informing you that the application for adoption has been approved. The DIF will provide prospective adoptive parents the social and medical background on the child at this time. If you agree to adopt the child, send a letter to DIF instructing them to continue with the adoption process. At this point, DIF will coordinate a meeting to introduce the child to the prospective adoptive parent(s).
- 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 of a petition to immigrate a child through adoption (Form I-800). Form I-800, like Form I-800A, must be submitted in the United States. However, USCIS regional offices in Mexico handle cases in particular states: USCIS Tijuana handles the Mexican states of Baja California, Sinaloa and Sonora. USCIS Ciudad Juárez andes Chihuahua and Durango. USCIS Monterrey andes Coahuila, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas and Aguascalientes. The rest of Mexico is handled by USCIS Mexico City. After the I-800 is provisionally approved by USCIS, the entire case file is transferred to the U.S. Embassy via the U.S. Department of State's National Visa Center, which immediately forwards the case file to the U.S. Embassy. Upon receipt of the file the Embassy makes contact with your adoption service provider to arrange for submission of a visa application. The Embassy will ask for an immigrant visa application form known as the DS 260 Parts I and II, an original or certified birth certificate for the child, photos of the child and, if practicable, a medical exam conducted by a panel physician, Once the Consular Officer receives the visa application, the officer reviews the child's information and evaluates the case and the application for compliance with the Hague Convention and 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 SRE and DIF of this initial determination in a letter known as the Article 5 letter. When the State DIF office receives the Article 5 letter from the Embassy, it will issue a letter known as the Article 17 letter to the prospective adoptive parent(s) and the Adoption Service Provider. The Article 17 letter notifies the prospective adoptive parents that they may proceed with the adoption. For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until both the Article 5 and Article 17 letters have been issued. Initiating the adoption process prior to issuance of the Article 5 and Article 17 letters will jeopardize the Hague adoption process.
REMEMBER: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
Prior to the adoption proceeding any further, the prospective adoptive parent(s) will be required to reside in Mexico with the child for a one to three week pre-adoption trial period. The DIF suggests that adoptive parents be prepared to spend at least three months in Mexico to complete an adoption, including this pre-adoption trial period.
Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Mexico:
REMEMBER: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Mexico, 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 Mexico.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Mexico generally includes the following:
- ROLE OF THE CENTRAL AUTHORITY: The SRE is the competent authority that certifies that an adoption or grant of custody has occurred in accordance with the Convention by issuing an Article 23 certificate or equivalent grant of custody. The SRE implements the Hague Convention through the DIF. The DIF is a Mexican government institution with branches in each Mexican state to handle family matters. The DIF acts as the legal representative for abandoned children and provides foster care for abused or orphaned minors. Children who are abandoned or orphaned can be given up for adoption by the DIF. The DIF is assigned the responsibility to study each child's eligibility for international adoption and arrange adoptions. The DIF determines whether a family would be suitable for a particular child by ensuring that a home study has been done. Prospective adoptive parents interested in adopting in Mexico should note that the DIF makes every effort to place children with relatives or Mexican citizens living in Mexico before making intercountry placements.
- ROLE OF THE COURT: Judicial proceedings occur in Mexico depending on the laws of the state.
- ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: Because Mexico is a Convention country, adoption services must be provided by a Hague-accredited agency, approved person, supervised provider, or exempted provider. Learn more Adoption service providers must also be authorized to provide adoption services by Mexican authorities.
- TIME FRAME: The general time frame for processing a Mexico adoption after the Article 5 letter has been issued by the U.S. Embassy and issued to the Mexican Central Authority signaling that the Hague adoption may proceed ranges from three to eight months, but varies from state to state. Again, prospective adoptive parents should check with the state where the adoption will take place.
- ADOPTION APPLICATION: The application should be filed with the SRE by the adoption service provider. Prospective adoptive parents who are dual Mexican and U.S. nationals are cautioned that only plenary or plena adoptions are considered valid for intercountry adoptions. Simple adoptions do not meet the requirements of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption and it is not possible to issue a U.S. Hague adoption visa in cases for which simple adoption has been issued.
- ADOPTION FEES: The DIF charges approximately $250 USD for adoption services but costs vary state-by-state. Generally, the fees include all applicable taxes. The DIF office also has its own lawyers and their services are also included in the fee. Using an attorney for DIF adoptions is optional for the prospective adoptive parent(s). These expenses should have been itemized in the fees and estimated expenses section of your adoption services contract.
- DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: Mexican authorities have informed us families must provide the following documents in order to adopt in Mexico:
- Certified copy of prospective adoptive parent's birth certificate or a U.S. passport as proof of U.S. citizenship;
- Certified copy of marriage certificate, if applicable;
- A statement from the employer of the prospective parent who is the primary supporter of the family. This statement must indicate the position, years of service with the employer, and salary;
- Copy of the most recent bank statement or other evidence of financial holdings as proof of financial solvency;
- Two letters of recommendation from people who can attest to the character of the adoptive parents. A married couple should obtain letters from persons who have known them as a married couple. Each letter should include the address and telephone number of the person writing the letter;
- Certificate from the state police from the prospective adoptive parent's state of residence in the U.S. verifying that the adoptive parents have no police record. The FBI fingerprint check for the I-800A fulfills this requirement;
- A copy of a social, economic, and psychological study of the parent's home situation conducted by an agency of the state of the child's proposed residence, or an adoption service provider authorized by that state to conduct such a study, and or by an appropriate public or private adoption service provider accredited or approved in the United States. The home study conducted for the I-800A fulfills this requirement;
- One 3x3-inch color photograph of each prospective adoptive parent; and
- Two 3x5-inch photographs of the prospective adoptive parent(s) in the home or on a family outing.
All documentation listed above must be apostilled by the Secretary of State of the U.S. state of origin of the document, translated into Spanish by an official translator of the Mexican Consulate nearest to the prospective adoptive parent's(s') place of residence in the United States. When all the documents have been assembled, they should be sent to the person or organization in Mexico acting as the adoption agent/representative for presentation to the Mexican court.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, read more on Traveling Abroad to learn about Authenticating U.S. Documents
Bring 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:
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. At the same time, the child should be registered under his or her new name with the Mexican authorities.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he or she will need a travel document or passport from Mexico to enter the United States. The Mexican Foreign Ministry, the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE), requires that a Mexican passport be issued to the child in the child's new name after the adoption proceedings are completed. Passports issued to a child prior to the final decree of adoption are not valid for travel purposes under the new identity of the child. In order to obtain information on how to obtain the child's new passport, please visit http://www.sre.gob.mx/en.
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 Department of State for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City for final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to obtain an immigrant 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. Read more about Health Consideration
Immigrant visas for adopted children are processed at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. Issuance of the immigrant visa normally takes at least one full day from the visa interview. Prospective adoptive parents will be notified of the time and date of their visa interview via correspondence from the Department of State's National Visa Center. Learn more about what to bring to the immigrant visa interview.
NOTE: Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes at least 24 hours. 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 U.S. Embassy in Mexico City before making final travel arrangements.
CAUTION: DOMESTIC OR “NATIONAL” MEXICAN ADOPTIONS AND DUAL NATIONALS AND LONG TERM RESIDENTS OF MEXICO
Some U.S. citizens who meet eligibility requirements under Mexican law may be permitted by Mexican authorities to proceed with a domestic or “national” adoption, which is different from a Hague Convention intercountry adoption. Dual national families may be under the impression that a domestic adoption process may be a faster option for adoption.
U.S. Citizens wishing to immigrate their adopted child to the U.S. upon completion of the adoption should NOT adopt according to a domestic adoption process. U.S. Citizens who are dual nationals should take care to make clear in all aspects of their adoption application to Mexican authorities of their intention to immigrate their Mexican adopted child to their home/address in the U.S. after the adoption is completed so that Mexican authorities process the adoption as an intercountry adoption and NOT as a domestic adoption. The adoption application and all related documents must clearly indicate that the adoption is an intercountry adoption.
A child adopted under a domestic Mexican adoption process is not immediately eligible to travel to the U.S. The Mexican Central Authority has both stated and demonstrated that it will not issue the required Article 23 Hague certification for adoptions completed as domestic adoptions. If you have already completed a domestic Mexican adoption after April 1, 2008, your adopted child may qualify for an IR-2 visa, which requires that the adoptive parents fulfill two years of legal and physical custody of the child outside of the United States before filing the immigrant visa petition. This physical cohabitation must occur outside of the United States. To pursue this avenue, you must first file an I-130 immigrant visa petition with the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS.
If your adoption in Mexico is already finalized, but you did not start the process with an I-600A filed before April 1, 2008, which has been extended and is still valid, you have not met the requirements necessary to obtain an adoption visa under either pre-Hague adoption visa processing or Hague Convention adoption visa processing. However, the IR-2 visa remains a path to bring your adopted child to the United States.
Please visit the Department of State's website at http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1310.html for more information regarding IR-2 visas.
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.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
- Traveling Abroad
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Mexico. 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.
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 Mexico, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
- After Adoption
What does Mexico require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
We strongly urge you to comply with the wishes of Mexico 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 Mexico'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 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
U.S. Embassy in Mexico
Paseo de la Reforma 305
06500 Mexico, D.F.
Mexican Central Authority
Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE)
Dirección de Derecho de la Familia
Sistema Nacional Para El Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (DIF)
Embassy of Mexico
2827 16th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009-4260
Tel: (202) 736-1000
NOTE: Mexico also has consulates General in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, and Hato Rey, Puerto Rico.
Office of Children's Issues
U.S. Department of State
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
E-mail: AskCI@state.gov or Adoption USCA@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).
For questions on filing an I-800A and I-800 under the Hague Adoption Convention:
USCIS, National Benefits Center (Hague process):
Telephone: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)