MexicoLast Updated: June 2014
Hague Adoption Convention Country?YES
Alerts & Notices
- Hague Convention Information
Mexico is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations; as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Mexico.
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 and authorization of foreign adoption service providers in Mexico. Both of these entities are federal and are based in Mexico City.
In addition to the two federal authorities named above, intercountry adoptions must 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, and 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 national DIF office and the SRE, which are the entities with the authority to certify Convention compliance for intercountry adoptions.
Prospective adoptive parents must initiate their adoption application in Mexico by submitting it to the SRE through a U.S. based adoption service provider that is both Hague accredited in the U.S. and approved to provide services in Mexico by the Mexican Central Authority. Prospective adoptive parents should take care to ensure that the adoption service provider they choose is both on the U.S. list of Hague accredited adoption service providers, as well as on the national DIF’s list of adoption service providers authorized to work in Mexico. Failure to work with an adoption service provider that has achieved authorization by the national DIF could delay the adoption and could result in the Mexican Central Authority's refusal to issue the Hague certification required for visa issuance.
Prospective adoptive parents who are dual Mexican and U.S. nationals are cautioned that only plenary adoptions (adopcion plena) 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, in most cases simple adoptions do not meet the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention process because they do not create a permanent legal parent-child relationship with the adopting parent and terminate the legal parent-child relationship with any former parent. It is only possible to issue a U.S. Convention adoption visa to children adopted via a plena adoption completed as part of a Convention adoption process. 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.
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Mexico, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.
Additionally, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. law in order to immigrate to the United States on an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.
- Who Can Adopt
In addition to the U.S. requirements, prospective adoptive parents need to meet Mexican requirements to adopt a child from Mexico:
- Residency: 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 U.S. processes, the DIF suggests that adoptive parents be prepared to spend at least three months in Mexico including the pre-adoption trial period.
- Age of Adopting Parents: 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: Prospective adoptive parents may be married or single, male or female. Same-sex couples are currently permitted to adopt only in Mexico City. Unmarried heterosexual couples may adopt, but only one member of the couple will appear on the adoption decree
- Income: Prospective adoptive parents must demonstrate the means to support the physical and educational needs of the child(ren). Prospective adoptive parents need to demonstrate that they are financially capable of taking care of the child(ren) with evidence such as, but not limited to, job letters, pay stubs, pictures from their home in the U.S. , and bank statements. They will have to present these documents during the court process to support their financial status. Prospective adoptive parents should also be prepared to present information about two persons who will be able to confirm their moral qualities and employment status
- Other: There are no restrictions concerning the gender of the child a prospective adoptive parent may adopt. For instance, an unmarried male prospective adoptive parent may adopt a female child. In addition, prospective adoptive parents who have previously adopted in Mexico can adopt again. There is no list of specific diseases or disabilities that bar prospective adoptive parents from adopting; state DIFs evaluate prospective adoptive parents on a case by case basis during the matching process with the child.
- 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 adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Mexico have determined that placement of the child within Mexico has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to Mexico’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee to be eligible for an immigrant visa that will allow you to bring him or her to the United States.
- Relinquishment and Abandonment: Only a Civil/Family judge, in a court proceeding, can determine if a child has been abandoned or relinquished. Public notaries are not authorized to make determinations of abandonment or relinquishment.
- Age of Adoptive Child: Children five years and older are available for intercountry adoption. The Mexican Central Authority may, in its discretion, place a child under the age of five if the child has a physical or mental disability, suffers from a disease that is costly to treat, or is part of a sibling group involving children older than five who are also being adopted.
- Sibling Adoptions: The Mexican Central Authority strives to keep siblings together and encourages prospective adoptive parents to consider adopting a group of siblings together in one adoption proceeding. .
- Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Adoptions of children with special needs or medical conditions are encouraged. The Mexican Central Authority will review the homestudy to ensure that prospective adoptive parents are equipped to care for the child.
- Waiting Period or Foster Care: Every state DIF has its own rules regarding the bonding or waiting period. Prospective adoptive parents must verify this with the State DIF adoptions office.
- Intra-family adoptions: Intra-family adoptions are permitted but must be completed through the same Convention process as non-family adoptions. This includes that the child must have been relinquished or abandoned and must be in state custody or care. The prospective adoptive parent family member may specify an interest in adopting a family member in the application to adopt submitted to the Mexican Central Authority.
- How To Adopt
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” in the case. Read on for more information.
Mexico’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Family Law Office (SRE)
(Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores, Dirección de Derecho de Familia)
National System for Family Development – National and State offices (DIF)
(Desarollo Integral de la Familia)
Mexico has designated the SRE, National DIF and the 31 state DIF offices to perform various central authority functions. The SRE is the lead authority to which all applications and Convention process communications must be submitted. The National DIF coordinates national policy for domestic and intercountry adoption cases and is in charge of authorization of U.S. adoption service providers in Mexico. The state DIF offices handle much of the hands-on processing of intercountry adoptions, including making a referral to a child and providing written documentation regarding the child’s background.
Note: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying [Country] as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or; 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. For more information, read about Transition Cases.
Because Mexico is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions 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. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.
1. Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
2. Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
3. Be matched with a child in Mexico
4. Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
5. Adopt (or Obtain Legal Custody) of child in Mexico
6. Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
The recommended first step in adopting a child from Mexico is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with The Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation. The accredited adoption service provider must also be authorized to operate in Mexico. Mexico requires foreign prospective adoptive parents to use an adoption service provider that has been authorized by the Mexican Central Authority. Further details on authorized agencies may be obtained through the national DIF office, including on the DIF’s website (which is only available in Spanish).
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt
After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Eligibility Requirements.
Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Mexico as part of your adoption dossier. Mexico’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Mexico’s law. All adoption dossiers must be submitted first to the SRE, which will forward to the appropriate DIF offices.
3. Be Matched with a Child by in Mexico
If both the United States and Mexico determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the Mexican Central Authority has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Mexican Central Authority may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Mexico. The adoption authority in Mexico (usually the state DIF) will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the adoption authority in Mexico. Learn more about this critical decision.
4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.
After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Mexico. A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.
WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the Mexican Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Mexico where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Mexican Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.
Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Mexico before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.
Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
5. Adopt (or Obtain Legal Custody) of Child in Mexico
Remember: Before you adopt (or obtain 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 obtaining legal custody) in Mexico generally includes the following:
- Role of Adoption Authority:
- Receives and registers adoption dossiers and forwards to appropriate DIF offices (SRE)
- Reviews and makes determination on applications for authorization to provide adoption services in Mexico by U.S. Hague accredited or approved adoption service providers (National DIF)
- Documents child’s social and medical history in an Article 16 report/referral
- Refers a child to prospective adoptive parents (state DIF)
- Oversees court adoption process (state DIF)
- Reviews adoption process and issues required Article 23 Hague certification after adoption if adoption was Hague complaint (SRE)
- Receives post adoption reports and forwards to appropriate DIF office. (SRE)
- Role of the Court: Reviews intercountry adoption applications submitted to court by state DIF after the Article 5 letter is issued by the U.S. Embassy. Issues an adoption order for the placement of the child with the prospective adoptive parents.
The court process usually takes from four to six months depending on the court’s workload. Prospective adoptive parents are required to appear in person at least twice during the court process for hearings and to provide testimony to the Civil/Family judge and State DIF personnel. Prospective adoptive parents are also required to provide two witnesses to provide testimony about their financial status, housing conditions, criminal history and character of PAPs. All of the testimony will be evaluated and recorded in the final adoption decree.
Prospective adoptive parents must obtain three certified copies of the full and final adoption decree. These three copies are necessary in order to: 1) request a new birth certificate from the Civil Registry showing the new name of the child, 2) apply for the Mexican passport from the SRE and 3) apply for the Article 23 Certificate with the SRE.
- Role of Adoption Agencies: The U.S. accredited adoption service provider facilitates adoptions by U.S. prospective adoptive parents in Mexico. The U.S. adoption service provider either conducts or oversees the prospective adoptive parents’ home study to ensure that it complies with U.S. and state law where the prospective adoptive parents reside. Once the prospective adoptive parents are found eligible and suitable to adopt/I-800A is approved, the ASP submits the adoption dossier to the SRE and may communicate with the appropriate DIF office regarding the application. The ASP receives the Article 16 referral and assists the prospective adoptive parents in submitting a form I-800 to NBC. After the provisional approval of Form I-800, the ASP coordinates with the U.S Embassy in Mexico to provide documentation necessary for the Article 5 review and for issuance of an Article 5 letter. After the Article 5 letter is issued, the ASP helps the prospective adoptive parents in meeting the court requirements and in obtaining the documentation necessary for the final visa application, including a new birth certificate and Mexican passport for the child. After the adoption is final and a visa is issued, the adoption service provider assists the family with Mexico’s post adoption reporting requirements. Please note that Mexico requires the primary adoption service provider to continue to assist the family to meet Mexican post-adoption reporting requirements after the adoption is completed.
- Time Frame: After the prospective adoptive parents have a provisionally approved Form I-800, it typically takes six months or longer to complete the Mexican adoption process and to secure the necessary documentation. Please note that obtaining a Mexican passport for an adopted child often takes an additional four weeks, and some adoptive parents have reported waiting as long as two months.
- Adoption Application: Prospective adoptive parents, in coordination with their adoption service provider, must submit an online application.
- 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. DIF does not charge any fees in connection with processing an adoption in Mexico.
Some of the fees specifically associated with adopting from Mexico include:
- State DIF legal services are free throughout the adoption process from initial match of the prospective adoptive parents with the child until after the adoption and after issuance of a new birth certificate showing the child’s new name; court services are also completely free of charge.
- Prospective adoptive parents must be prepared to pay for certified copies of the full and final adoption decree (costs may vary from state to state but are generally about 10 Mexican pesos or under $1 per page). This payment is made at authorized banks and the receipt will be required by the court to process the copies. Mexican passport fee information can be obtained through the SRE’s web site.
- Documents Required: Mexican Central Authority requirements to issue Article 23 certification that an adoption was made in accordance with the Convention:
- - Original birth certificate of the child (the birth certificate stating the child’s previous name as well as the new one recording the name after adoption);
- - Certified copy of the adoption decree;
- - Certified copy of the document that declares that the adoption decree is final (causó “estado” or “ejecutoria”);
- - Original and a copy of the adoptive parents´ passports;
- - Copy of a document the current address of the adoptive parents; and
- - Original documents, issued by the U.S, Embassy in Mexico City (Article 5 letter)as well as by the Mexican Central Authority (Article 17 letter), demonstrating compliance with Articles 5 and 17 of the Convention. These documents must have been issued prior to the date of the adoption decree.
*Originals are returned except for the items identified in No. 6
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
- Authentication of Documents: The United States and Mexico are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents may be authenticated with Apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority.
Note: All documents must be translated into the Spanish language; prospective adoptive parents should verify this requirement with the State DIF.
6. Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and 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 before your child can travel to the United States:
After the adoption process is finalized in court, the judge will issue a full and final adoption decree declaring the child’s new name and parents. Adoptive parents should use this adoption decree to apply for a new birth certificate reflecting the child’s new name and parents. The new birth certificate can be obtained by submitting the original final adoption decree or a certified copy of the adoption decree to the Office of Civil Registry where the child’s birth was originally registered. You may use this new birth certificate to apply for your child’s Mexican passport.
Please note that Mexico requires than an adoption be finalized prior to the child’s departure for the United States in order to meet Convention requirements. Court ordered grants of custody for purpose of adoption in the United States do not comply with Mexico’s Convention requirements. Prospective adoptive parents who have not yet completed a full and final adoption in Mexico will not be able to obtain a new birth certificate for the child and will not be able to complete Mexico’s Convention process.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a Mexican travel document or passport . Mexico requires that the child and both adoptive parents appear in person to apply for the child’s Mexican passport. For more details on the Mexican passport application process and requirements, you should refer to information provided by the SRE.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, Mexico. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, make an appointment to visit the U.S Embassy for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, final approval of Form I-800, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. 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 the Medical Examination.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.
*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
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. 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 a Visa to Travel to Mexico
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. Visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. Mexico requires United States citizens travelling to Mexico for the purposes of adoption to obtain a visa for purposes of adoption before entering Mexico. Once in Mexico, adoptive parents will be given a certain period of time within which to register with the Mexican Immigration Authority, or the Instituto de Migraciones. To find information about obtaining a visa for Mexico, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. 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 enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in [Country], enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
- After Adoption
Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Mexico requires post adoption reporting twice a year for the first three years and once a year thereafter until the age of 18. All reports should be submitted to the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores by an accredited adoption service provider that is also authorized to provide services in Mexico. We strongly urge you to comply with Mexico’s 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 U.S. citizen parents.
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some places to start your support group search:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway
- North American Council on Adoptable Children
- Adoption Services Support Groups for adopting Persons
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. Tel: 011-52-55-50-80-2000.
Mexico Adoption Authority
Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE)
Dirección de Derecho de la Familia
Plaza Juarez, numero 20, piso 17
Colonia Centro, Delegación Cuauhtémoc, 52 55 3686 5100 x 7543
C.P. 06010, México, D.F. Tel: (55) 368665100
Website: http: //www.sre.gob.mx/index.php/oficinas-centrales/direccion-general-de-proteccion-a-mexicanos-en-el-exterior
Sistema Nacional Para El Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (DIF)
Prol. Xochicalco 947, 1er Piso
Col. Santa Cruz Atoyac
Del Benito Juarez, C.P. 03310
México, D.F. Tel: (55) 3033 2200 x 6131
Embassy of Mexico
Embassy of Mexico
2827 16th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009-4260
Tel: (202) 736-1000
Website: http: //embamex.sre.gob.mx/eua/
Mexico also has 50 consulates in the United States. A listing of them can be found at the following website: http: //www.sre.gob.mx/index.php/representaciones/consulados-de-mexico-en-el-exterior
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures: USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
For questions about filing a Form I-800A or I-800 petition: USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)