Colombia is a country at the northern tip of South America. Its landscape is marked by rainforests, Andes mountains and numerous coffee plantations. Colombia has a tropical temperate climate with little seasonal variation. It is the third most populous country in South America. The high-altitude capital, Bogotá, is the third largest city in Colombia and one of the biggest in Latin American. The ethnic diversity of Colombia is a result of interactions between indigenous peoples, Spanish colonizers, and African slaves. The people of Colombia are warm and friendly.
Due to a variety of factors such as poverty and violence, there are more than 5,000 children in Colombia who are in need of homes. There is a domestic adoption program available to Colombian citizens – these families generally get preference in child placement before foreign adopters. The Colombian international adoption program is well-established and stable. Colombia is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, all intercountry adoptions between Colombia and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention. Colombian adoptions are conducted through a collaborative effort of a Hague accredited adoption agency in the U.S. and by the Colombian Central Adoption Authority (ICBF).
Children Available for Intercountry Adoption
Because Colombia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Colombia 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 Colombia have determined that placement of the child within Colombia has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child's best interests.
- Healthy boys and girls 6 months to 8 years old are available for adoptive parents with Colombian heritage only.
- Boys and girls 18 months to 15 years old with special needs
- Boys and girls over 9 who are considered healthy with minor correctable needs
- Healthy children who are part of a sibling group where at least one child is older than 8 years old
- All children are of Hispanic, Indian, African or mixed racial heritage. Families may not request a specific ethnicity.
Who Can Adopt?
Adoption between the United States and the Colombia is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore, to adopt from Colombia, the prospective adoptive parent(s) 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). USCIS requires the adoptive parent(s) to be a U.S. Citizen and, if unmarried, at least 25 years old. The prospective adoptive parent(s) must meet certain requirements that will determine their suitability as a prospective adoptive parent(s), including criminal background checks, fingerprinting, and a home study. In addition to qualifying to adopt under U.S. law, they must also meet their home state's requirements for prospective adoptive parent(s).
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parent(s), Colombia also has the following requirements:
- Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years of age and at least 15 years older than the child to be adopted at the time of application.
- The oldest prospective adoptive parent must not be more than 45 years older than the child he/she adopts ((exceptions may be made with cases of older or special needs children).
- Applicants must be married for at least two (2) years, together for three (3) years, and have no more than three (3) divorces between them.
- Single men and women are accepted into the program, although Colombia has significantly stricter requirements on adoptions by unmarried individuals.
- The family must be financially stable and able to provide for the needs of the child.
- There is no family size limit, but the family must prove that they can meet the individual needs of the child.
- Prospective adoptive parents must be mentally and physically fit to parent.
There are certain medical conditions that MAY not be approved in Colombia. These include illnesses with a poor prognosis such as:
- Heart disease
- Certain types of cancer
- Degenerative disease
- Chronic infectious disease
- Kidney insufficiency
- Metabolic disease
- HIV or AIDS
- Vascular cerebral disease
If you have a particular medical condition, please consult with the staff at HopeFull Connections prior to submitting an application.
Special Program for Those with Colombian Heritage
For adoptive parents of Colombian descent living in the US, ICBF has created the "privilege of protocol" to expedite the adoption process for you. To qualify, at least one adoptive parent or at least one of his/her parents should have been born in Colombia. Families with Colombian heritage have the ability to adopt younger, healthier children including babies and toddlers, and the benefit of reduced fees and typically a faster process since ICBF prioritizes adoptions to Colombians.
Waiting Child Program for all Applicants
There are countless children available for adoption in Colombia who remain there because they have a mild to significant special need, are up to age 8, 9 and older, or part of a large sibling group. Many of these older children and sibling groups are healthy, but yet they continue to wait. Families who adopt a waiting child will have a faster process than those families in the traditional process because the 9-15 months estimated to receive a referral is eliminated by choosing a waiting child. Much of this timeline depends on whether or not you have an approved home study when beginning the process. Click here to register to be able to access information on waiting children.
Colombia Vacation Program
Colombia's Central Adoption Authority, ICBF, partners with HopeFull Connections to find families for children who qualify and participate in our hosting program. Each year in July and December, a group of children are hosted by prospective adoptive parents or child advocates for several weeks in their home. The program offers the children a unique and life-changing opportunity to visit a new country and live in a home as part of a functioning, loving family. It offers the host parent/s an opportunity to get to know a child whom they might consider adopting, Advocates host children not to adopt them but to help broaden the child's exposure to other potential adoptive parents within their community. Timelines for the adoption are faster than the traditional program as ICBF does expedite the adoption process for these children. Click here to learn more about our hosting programs.
Estimated Timeline for Colombia Adoptions
- Families in the traditional or heritage program typically receive a referral within 9-15 months after submission of dossier depending on the type of child requested. Families seeking to adopt a child with significant special needs or who are open to gender and children 12 and older may receive a referral much sooner.
- Families who select a waiting child or participate in the Vacation program will complete their adoption faster since they don't have to wait 9-15 months for referral of a child.
- All wait times are from the time the dossier is approved by ICBF.
- The waiting time from acceptance of the official match by ICBF to travel to Colombia for court is about 3-4 months.
Because Colombia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Colombia must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements.
- Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
- Complete a home study
- Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
- Be matched with a child by authorities in Colombia
- Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the U.S. and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
- Adopt the child in Colombia
- Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home
Travel to Country
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa, an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit.
Only 1 trip is required for adoption from Colombia. Once you are in country, you will meet your child and he/she will be with you for the duration of your stay. The first 9 days with your child is considered an "integration period." Then the adoption will be finalized while you are in country. This takes approximately 3-6 weeks. A new birth certificate and passport will be issued. After an exit interview with the US Embassy you will be able to leave the country with your child. At least one parent must remain in Colombia for the entire adoption process. The other parent can return home after the first one or two weeks.
ICBF requires that adoptive parents participate in a minimum of four post adoption services after the adoption of their child. This includes a visit in the adoptive home with all members of the family, an interview to hear about the child's adjustment in the home. A report will be written and submitted to ICBF with information on your child's developmental progress along with pictures. The post-adoption reports are a serious commitment and compliance is required by the Hague Convention.
Please click here to view an Itemized Schedule of Fees and Costs for adopting from Colombia.