Trinidad and Tobago

Last Updated: August 2006

Hague Adoption Convention Country?

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Hague Convention Information

Trinidad and Tobago is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption ( Hague Adoption Convention ). Therefore, when the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008, intercountry adoption processing for Trinidad and Tobago did not change.

Please note: There are two ways of gaining custody of a child from Trinidad and Tobago: obtaining an Adoption Order or legal guardianship.

Adoption Order: The first option is to go through the adoption process and obtain an Adoption Order. If the prospective adoptive parent(s) is a resident of Trinidad and Tobago, then the Adoption Board acts as the lead agency in the adoption process. (See Adoption Authority Section below for contact information). If the prospective adoptive parent(s) are not residents of Trinidad and Tobago, they must contact an adoption agency that handles intercountry adoption. Since intercountry adoptions are adjudicated through the High Court and not the Adoption Board, prospective adoptive parents are advised to contact an attorney since these are done through the High Court and not handled by the Adoption Board.

An Adoption Order issued by the Court carries different rights to the adopting parents than Guardianship/custody Order, in the latter cases, the birth parents still retain parental rights. With an Adoption Order the birth parents are required to relinquish their rights.

Legal Guardianship: The second option is to seek legal guardianship of a child from the courts in Trinidad and Tobago for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States. While considerably less burdensome than seeking a formal adoption in Trinidad and Tobago, prospective parents need to keep in mind that legal guardianship is not as secure as an adoption order. Legal guardianship does not provide full parental rights to the adopting party. Legal guardianship is also vulnerable to revocation by the courts if the biological parents or other relatives subsequently petition the courts for a change of guardianship.

Who Can Adopt

To bring an adopted child to United States from Trinidad and Tobago, you must 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 adoptive parents, Trinidad and Tobago also has the following requirements for adoptive parents:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Applicant(s) for Adoption Orders should be residents of Trinidad and Tobago and must have residential status proof from Trinidadian immigration authority in order to establish residency. Foreigners may apply to the High Court for an Adoption Order for a child born in Trinidad, Orders are granted in certain limited circumstances as outlined in Adoption of Children Act 2000. This act was amended with an updated definition of the word "court" in 2003.
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS: The adoptive parent(s) must be at least 25 years old and 21 years older than the child they are adopting. Individuals seeking legal guardianship must be at least 25 years old and there is no specification as to an age difference between the guardian and the child.
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: The government of Trinidad and Tobago allows married couples and single women to adopt. Single men may not adopt. A married couple or unmarried individuals, either male or female, are allowed to gain legal guardianship.
  • OTHER REQUIREMENTS: First preference is given to citizens/nationals of Trinidad and Tobago to adopt a child.
Who Can Be Adopted

Trinidad and Tobago has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption. You cannot adopt a child in Trinidad and Tobago unless he or she meets the requirements outlined below.

In addition to these requirements, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law for you to bring him or her back to the United States. Learn more about these U.S. requirements.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

Relinquishment Requirements:

The adoption board confirms consent of the birth parent(s) or current guardian(s) to relinquish custody of the child.

Abandonment Requirements:

If the child is orphaned due to the death of the birth parent(s), the official death certificate of the parent(s) must be provided.

Waiting Period: Adoption in Trinidad and Tobago includes a probationary period, during which the prospective adoptive parents are granted temporary custody and the Adoption Board keeps close supervision of the child and monitors the child's reactions to the new family.

How To Adopt

Trinidad and Tobago's Adoption Authority

Adoption Board

The Process

The process for adopting a child from Trinidad and Tobago generally includes the following steps:

  1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
  3. Be Matched with a Child
  4. Adopt the Child in Trinidad and Tobago
  5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
  6. Bring Your Child Home
  1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider

    In general, the first step in adopting a child is usually to select a licensed agency in the United States that can help with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. Learn more about choosing the right adoption service provider.

    Laws in Trinidad and Tobago make it illegal for any local persons or local agencies other than the Adoption Board and or the Courts to facilitate adoptions. Where persons have a guardianship order, they may still apply for adoption of the child through an international adoption agency, but the Guardianship Order should also include that the child be sent abroad for adoption.

  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

    To bring an adopted child from Trinidad and Tobago to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-600A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.

    In addition to meeting the U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, you need to meet the requirements of Trinidad and Tobago as described in the Who Can Adopt section.

    For adoptions where the prospective adoptive parents are not residing in Trinidad, an application must be made to the High Court for an adoption order. Local attorneys may be contacted to interpret local adoption laws.

    As stated before, there are two ways of gaining custody of a child from Trinidad and Tobago obtaining an Adoption Order or Legal Guardianship. These two options have two separate application processes.

    Adoption Order: The local adoption process begins with the prospective adoptive parent(s) filing a formal application that can be obtained only from the Adoption Board. Prospective adoptive parents will have to appear in person in order to obtain these forms. However, if an Order is applied for through the Courts, the attorney drafts the legal documents after taking instruction from their clients and submitting medical reports to the Adoption Board. The Board may request additional documents depending on the circumstances of each case. Prospective adoptive parents will be made aware of additional requirements when they attend the initial interview with the Board. Once the process is initiated, the Board identifies children eligible for adoption.

    Legal Guardianship: To gain legal guardianship, the prospective guardians should contact the Clerk of the Peace in their district. The Clerk of the Peace will arrange for the prospective guardian to fill out the necessary forms and will set a court date. The Probation Office, which works with and takes instructions from the court, will also require proof that the prospective guardians are deemed fit (International Social Services certification is acceptable) and investigate the appropriateness of the change in guardianship. All the information will be presented before the Magistrate and the court will make a final decision based on the recommendations from the Probation Office.

  3. Be Matched with a Child

    In general, if you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority will provide you with a referral to a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of a particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.

    The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Trinidad and Tobago's requirements, as described in the Who Can be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law. Learn more.

    Adoption Order Procedure: Children are typically are referred to the Boar by children's homes and institutions. The Adoption Board confirms consent of the birth parent(s) or current guardian(s) to relinquish custody of the child. The Adoption Board will then grant temporary custody to the prospective adoptive parents. Meanwhile, the Welfare Officers in Trinidad and Tobago complete a home study report to ensure that the adoption will be beneficial to the child. The Adoption Board then reviews all the information and decides whether a probationary period can be granted to the prospective parents. The probationary period is a minimum of six months and is a requirement that must be completed in Trinidad and Tobago in order to bring the case before the courts. The Adoption Board may extend the probationary period if it feels more time is needed in the trial period. During this period the Adoption Board keeps a close supervision of the child and monitors the child's reactions to the new family. At any point during the probationary period, the Adoption Board may terminate the temporary custody if it feels that the child is in a harmful situation. Upon the completion of the probationary period, whether by notice of the Adoption Board or by its expiration, the prospective adoptive parents may apply to the court for an adoption order to finalize the adoption. Once the Court grants an adoption Order, the process is finalized.

    Legal Guardianship: The court makes a final decision based on the recommendations from the Probation Office.

  4. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in-country

    The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Trinidad and Tobago generally includes the following:
    • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: To obtain an Adoption Order in Trinidad and Tobago, prospective adoptive parents must contact the Adoption Board, which is the only organization authorized to process the application and make recommendations to the courts for legal adoptions. The Adoption Board is not responsible for legal guardianship cases.

      Adoption Board
      55-57 St. Vincent Street
      Port of Spain, Trinidad
    • ROLE OF THE COURT: To seek legal guardianship, the prospective guardians need to contact the Clerk of the Peace through the courts in Trinidad and Tobago.

      Probation Office
      3rdFloor ANSA House
      Corner of Queen and Henry Streets
      Port of Spain , Trinidad
    • ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: Laws in Trinidad and Tobago make it illegal for any local persons or local agencies other than the Adoption Board and or the Courts to facilitate adoptions. Where persons have a guardianship Order, they may still apply for adoption of the child through an international adoption agency, but the Guardianship Order should also include that the child be sent abroad for adoption.
    • ADOPTION APPLICATION:

      Adoption Order - The local adoption process begins with the prospective adoptive parent(s) filing a formal application that can be obtained only from the Adoption Board. Prospective adoptive parents will have to appear in person in order to obtain these forms. However, if an Order is applied for through the Courts, the attorney drafts the legal documents after taking instruction from their clients and submitting medical reports to the Adoption Board. The Board may request additional documents depending on the circumstances of each case.

      Legal Guardianship - To gain legal guardianship, prospective guardians should contact the Clerk of the Peace in their district. The Clerk of the Peace will arrange for the prospective guardian to fill out the necessary forms and will set a court date.
    • TIME FRAME: Adoption Orders take more than six months due to the Adoption Board's six-month probation period. Securing legal guardianship can take anywhere from one week to several months depending on the cooperation of the parties and the time availability of the courts.
    • ADOPTION FEES: Adoption in Trinidad and Tobago is free. Payment to anyone, other than an attorney for their legal services, is illegal.
    • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED:

      Adoption Order

      • Original certified birth certificates of the prospective adoptive parents and child;
      • Certificate of successful immunization record of child issued by the Ministry of Health. (This is obtained from the medical clinics that provide immunization shots to the public. This card details all immunization records for individuals);
      • Result of blood test of the prospective adoptive parents and child;
      • Result of chest x-ray of the prospective adoptive parents and child;
      • Medical fitness examination conducted in Trinidad and Tobago for the prospective adoptive parents;
      • Original certified copy of the prospective adoptive parents' marriage certificate (if applicable);
      • Original certified death registration of the child's birth parents (if applicable) or consent from the child's birth parents. If the birth parents are alive, they must relinquish rights;
      • Photographs in color - one full length and one head and shoulders of applicant(s); and
      • Other general forms given by the Adoption Board.

      Legal Guardianship

      • Current valid photo ID of prospective guardian(s); and
      • Original or certified copy of birth certificate of applicants and the child.

    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.

  5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption

    After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Trinidad and Tobago, the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) MUST determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted (Form I-600). Learn how.

  6. 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 several 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.

      [How to obtain a new birth certificate for the child in Trinidad and Tobago.]
    • Trinidad and Tobago Passport
      Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Trinidad and Tobago. [How to obtain a Passport for the child in Trinidad and Tobago.]
    • 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-600 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.

    Applying for an Orphan Immigrant Visa at the U.S. Embassy in Port of Spain

    • Form I-600 or I-600A
    • Electronic Birth Certificate of the child; As of 2005, computerized birth certificates are issued by the Trinidad Government
    • Death certificate or affidavit of irrevocable relinquishment from the biological parent(s), if applicable
    • Adoption Order or Court Order granting guardianship to adoptive parents
    • Child's valid Trinidadian passport
    • Medical Forms for the cild
    • Proof of ability to support child financially, including I-864, proof of job and salary, and latest tax statements
    • Two passport photos of the child

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad : The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.

For adoptions finalized in the United States : The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when the court in the United States issues the final adoption decree.

* 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 Trinidad and Tobago. 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 Trinidad and Tobago, 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 Trinidad and Tobago registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Registration is free and can be done online.

After Adoption

What does Trinidad and Tobago require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
There are no post-adoption requirements for adoption in Trinidad and Tobago.

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 Trinidad and Tobago
15 Queen's Park West (PO Box 752)
Port of Spain , Trinidad
Tel: 868-622-6371 through 6

Trinidad and Tobago's Adoption Authority
Adoption Board
55-57 St. Vincent Street
Port of Spain, Trinidad
Tel: (868) 627-4447

Probation Office
The Adoption Board is not responsible for legal guardianship cases. To seek legal guardianship, the prospective guardians need to contact the Clerk of the Peace through the courts in Trinidad and Tobago.
3 rd Floor ANSA House
Corner of Queen and Henry Streets
Port of Spain, Trinidad
Telephone: (868) 623-8180

Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago
1708 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-467-6490
* Trinidad and Tobago also has consulates in: Miami and New York.

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
E-mail: AskCI@state.gov
http://adoption.state.gov

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)