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Adopting a child from Mexico: A guide for Texas families

Given our state's proximity to Mexico, it is likely that many of you who are reading this blog either have family that lives in Mexico or is a resident of that country. If you are interested in learning more about the adoption process and how the United States handles international adoptions from Mexico, today's blog post is for you. Not only do you have to consider the laws of the United States, but you also have to contend with Mexican law as it relates to international adoptions.

For starters, Mexico is a country that has adopted the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The laws of this Convention will administer all adoptions that take place across the border of Mexico. Mexico and the United States both have rules and the Convention that must be followed as well.

Like the United States, Mexico is comprised of states. Federal authorities that govern international adoptions have offices in each of Mexico's 31 states. Each of those states may have laws that differ from one another when it comes to adoption. For that reason, it is highly recommended that you hire an attorney who is knowledgeable not only of American adoption laws but in the laws of the Mexican state where you are trying to adopt.

The adoption service provider you choose to work with must be approved by the U.S. and Mexican governments. This is a critical step. If you do not ensure that the Mexican government adopts the agency you have chosen to work with, it may delay the adoption process. Ultimately you are seeking to have the government issue a visa on behalf of your adopted child.

Simple vs. Plenary Adoptions

If you are both a citizen of Mexico and a citizen of the United States, you must understand the difference between a plenary and straightforward adoption. In Mexico, a simple adoption is where a Mexican national such as yourself can complete a relatively quick adoption. Full adoption is more complex from a legal perspective but is more likely to meet the Hague Convention on Adoption standards. Simple adoptions are faster but often do not go through all the steps necessary to meet those requirements.

For starters, there is no permanent legal parent-child relationship between the child and yourself in most simple adoptions. Furthermore, there is no termination of the parent-child relationship that is necessary for all United States-based adoptions. The United States will only issue a visa to a child that has been adopted via the more complex and formal plenary adoption. In the final paperwork, there must be a language that states that you are a citizen of both Mexico and the United States and reside in the U.S.

What are the requirements of the Mexican government for internationally adopting a child?

If you are interested in adopting a Mexican child, the Mexican government will first require that you live together with the child for three weeks in Mexico. After this stage, the Mexican government will begin to consider your application and petition for adoption. While there is only a three-week requirement for living with the child before the adoption is finalized, a great deal of paperwork comes along with the adoption process. As a result, it is expected that you will remain in Mexico for up to three months.

In addition, there are specific income requirements that you must meet to adopt a child living in Mexico. You must have the financial wherewithal to adopt a child and provide for that child's basic needs. A letter verifying your employment and length of work is an excellent place to start. Pay stubs, tax returns, photos of your home, bank statements, and other financial disclosure forms are helpful in this endeavor.

These documents will be presented to the court in Mexico to support your contention that you have the financial strength to add a child to your family. Having at least two witnesses with you to verify that the information you are disclosing is accurate and certify that you are of strong moral character will also be helpful to you.

Which children in Mexico can you adopt?

Mexican children must meet the requirements found in the Hague Convention. It is typical that before a foreigner can adopt a Mexican child, consideration must have first been given to whether or not it would be possible for the child to be adopted to a family within Mexico. If a court determines that it is in the best interests of that child to be adopted by a family outside of Mexico, then the adoption can proceed.

The authorities in Mexico that govern adoptions will do as much as possible to keep brothers and sisters in the same household. As such, if you plan on adopting a child, then you should consider whether or not you would be able or willing to adopt their siblings as well. If you are a member of the child's family, you must still go through the same process as any other person to adopt the child. The only difference is that you should specify in your application that you are a family member of the child that you are attempting to adopt.

What are the steps in the adoption process for a Mexican adoption?

There are a series of six steps that you must follow for the successful adoption of a Mexican child to occur. If I go over the steps that are not completed in order, an immigration visa to the United States may be denied to your child.

First off, an adoption agency that is certified and approved to work in the U.S. and Mexico must be chosen by you and your spouse. The adoption agency is the primary group that will make sure that you meet all of the requirements both in the United States and Mexico as far as conducting foreign divorces.

Next, once an adoption agency is chosen, you will need to apply to be found eligible to adopt a Mexican child by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. A form will need to be submitted directly to that entity. Once the USCIS determines that you are eligible to adopt a child, the adoption agency you are working with will now provide you with the approval. A home study and any other pieces of information that will need to be collected will occur.

Your eligibility to adopt a child will then be determined by the Mexican government.

Once you are eligible to adopt in the United States, the Mexican authorities will conduct a similar review on their own. As soon as it is determined that you are also eligible to adopt a Mexican child, the government of Mexico will then need to determine whether or not any children are available for you to adopt. For you to adopt a Mexican child, it must be determined that it is in that child's best interests for you to adopt them. The child who best fits your application and needs adoption will be matched up with you.

You will be given a great deal of information about the child as far as their background, health history, and other pieces of information to figure out whether or not you would like to adopt the child. If you believe that you would not be able to meet this child's long-term needs, you can pass on the referral and seek the adoption of another child.

After you have been successfully matched up with a child, you will need to apply to the United States Department of Homeland Security to secure approval for that child to immigrate to the United States. Once your child is approved for adoption and entrance into the United States, you will then need to apply for a visa for that child. The United States Embassy in Mexico City is the entity that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to Mexican children seeking to enter the United States.

Going to court and getting the adoption legally approved

At this stage, once approval of the adoption has occurred and a visa has been issued, you can move on to the fifth stage of a Mexican adoption- the legal adoption of the child. The adoption agency you are working with will receive all adoption paperwork and send it on to the appropriate Mexican government authorities for their review and processing. Their Mexican counterpart will approve the United States-based adoption agency that you are using.

After this, a Mexican court case will ensure that it legally allows you to adopt the child. A judge will review the applications submitted to the court by the Mexican government. An order will then be issued that places your child with you. This whole process can take up to six months to complete. You and your spouse will have to appear before the judge at least two times before the adoption is finalized. As I mentioned at the outset of today's blog post, you will need at least two people to attend court and act as witnesses to testify to your moral character and financial wherewithal.

The specific documents that will need to be submitted to the Mexican government and the fees associated with adopting a Mexican child can be found on the United States government website that covers issues related to adoption. Select Mexico as the country that you are interested in reading about to learn more in-depth material.

Get a visa and come home with your child.

Once all of the above steps are met and completed in order, all that is left to do is apply for a few documents and then come home with your child.

First, a birth certificate is needed so that your child can travel with you back to the United States. A Mexican judge will issue an adoption decree that names you as your child's new parent. This decree can be used to obtain a birth certificate and then a Mexican passport that allows for them to travel abroad.

A Mexican passport is necessary because your child is not yet a citizen of the United States. The Mexican access will allow them to travel internationally while their United States citizen application is being reviewed. Your visa application through the Embassy in Mexico City will be almost complete at this stage. Once an immigrant visa is issued, your child can travel with you back to the United States.

If you have made it this far, you will not only make it through some problematic autocratic steps but will have a brand new member of your family to welcome home to Texas.

Questions about international adoption? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

International adoption cases are among the most complex and time-consuming of all family law-related matters but can also be the most rewarding. If your heart is leading you towards wanting to adopt a child who lives either in the United States or in a foreign country, it is good to contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan.

Our licensed family law attorneys work on behalf of people like you to accomplish their goals in whatever family law-related matter they present to us. We work in courts across southeast Texas and do so with a great deal of pride. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I hope we can work alongside you moving forward.

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