Adoptando un menor en la exterior

Adopting A Child Overseas

If you plan to adopt a child overseas, you should be aware that the U.S. Government considers foreign adoptions to be a private legal matter within the judicial sovereignty of the nation where the child is residing. U.S. authorities have no right to intervene on behalf of American citizens in the courts in the country where the adoption takes place. However, there are a number of ways that U.S. embassies and consulates can assist prospective parents.

The U.S. embassy or consulate can provide you with information on the adoption process in the country where you reside. Consular officers can make inquiries on your behalf regarding the status of your case in the foreign court and will assist in clarifying documentary requirements if necessary. Embassies and consulates will also ensure that as an American you are not being discriminated against by foreign courts and will provide you with information on the visa application process for your adopted child.

Because children in foreign adoptions are considered to be nationals of the country of origin, prospective parents must comply with local laws. One way to achieve this is by dealing only with a reputable international adoption agency experienced in handling adoptions in the country where you are living. In the case of a private adoption, you should hire a local attorney with expertise in adoptions. Because of the potential for fraud in international adoptions, you need to be aware of the pitfalls. The U.S. embassy or consulate can offer you advice on what problems you might encounter.

Foreign children adopted overseas by U.S. citizens can gain U.S. citizenship if the adoptive parents apply for the child's naturalization after they return to the United States. In most cases, the adoptive parents would merely apply for a Certificate of Citizenship from the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (BCIS) after the adoption. However, until they return to the United States, the adopted child remains a national of their country of origin. Before returning to the United States with your adopted child, you will need to petition the BCIS for your child’s immigrant visa. For further information on adoption procedures, obtain BCIS Form M-249 entitled, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children. You can also contact the Department of State, Overseas Citizens Services Office of Children’s Issues, telephone 1-888-407-4747 to learn more about foreign adoption procedures and to order the booklet International Adoptions. This booklet is also available on the Internet at and contains useful information for U.S. citizens who plan to adopt a foreign child.

International Child Custody Disputes

For parents involved in a child custody dispute, there are limits on the assistance that U.S. authorities can provide. In cases where an American child is abducted overseas by a parent, the U.S. Governments role is confined to helping the remaining parent locate the child, monitoring the child’s welfare, and providing general information about child custody laws and procedures in the country where the abduction took place. Consular officers overseas can issue a U.S. passport to a child involved in a custody dispute if the child appears in person at the U.S. embassy or consulate and there is no court order issued by the foreign court of that country which bars the child’s departure from the country.

U.S. consuls cannot take custody of a child, force the child's return to the United States, or attempt to influence child custody proceedings in foreign courts. If the parents cannot work out an amicable settlement of a child custody dispute, the only recourse is usually court action in the country where the child is residing. A custody decree originating in the United States is not automatically recognized overseas. On the contrary, foreign courts will decide custody in accordance with the laws of that country. If you are involved in a custody dispute, you will need to obtain a foreign attorney to represent you in court. You can obtain a list of such attorneys from the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where your child has been taken.

Parents who are involved in a custody battle overseas should find out whether the country you are in is a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Under the Hague Convention, a child who has been wrongfully removed may be returned to his or her place of habitual residence. For further information on the Hague Convention contact the Office of Children's Issues in Overseas Citizens Services. That office also has copies of the booklet International Parental Child Abduction that contains helpful information on what U.S. citizen parents can do to prevent their child from becoming a victim of parental child abduction. If you are overseas and would like information on this subject, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for guidance.