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Disclaimer: The following is intended as a very general guide to assist U.S. citizens who plan to adopt a child in Ecuador and apply for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. Two sets of laws are particularly relevant: 1) the laws of Ecuador govern all activity in Ecuador including the adoptability of individual children as well as the adoption of children in country. 2) U.S. Federal immigration law governs the immigration of the child to the United States. The information in this flier relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. It does not necessarily reflect the actual state of the laws of Ecuador and is provided for general information only. Moreover, U.S. immigration law, including regulations and interpretation, changes from time to time. This flyer reflects our current understanding of the law as of this date and is not legally authoritative. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.


PLEASE NOTE: As a result of negative publicity generated by a case of child smuggling in 1986, Ecuadorian laws regarding adoptions by foreigners were changed in an attempt to provide greater protection for the child. All Ecuadorian adoptions by U.S. citizens must be processed through U.S. based adoption agencies legally authorized to deal with Ecuadorian adoption agencies or private attorneys. Adoptive parents residing outside Ecuador may not adopt more than two children, except in the case of sibling adoptions.Although children are sometimes released to the custody of prospective adoptive parents, an Ecuadorian court must issue a final adoption decree before the child is permitted to leave the country.

PATTERNS OF IMMIGRATION OF ADOPTED ORPHANS TO THE U.S.: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans.
Fiscal Year Number of Immigrant Visas Issued

FY 2004

28

FY 2003

36

FY 2002

50

FY 2001

39

FY 2000

56


ADOPTION AUTHORITY IN ECUADOR :

The Technical Adoptions Unit and the Family Assignment Committee (Unidad Tecnica de Adopciones y el Comite de Asignacion Familiar) oversees adoptions in Ecuador. The courts in Ecuador issue adoption decrees. The Childhood and Adolescence Court (Juzgado de la Ninez y Adolescencia) must grant permission for the child to depart the country if living with one of the parents only. This permission is only valid for 1 year.


ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR ADOPTIVE PARENTS:
Both married and unmarried individuals may adopt a child in Ecuador. An unmarried (single, widowed, divorced) adoptive parent may only adopt a child of the same sex, unless the Technical Adoptions Unit issues a favorable report for adoption of a child of the opposite sex. In such a case, there must be an age difference of 30 years between the adoptive parent and the child. Both members of a married couple should be over 25 years of age. There must be an age difference of at least 14 years between the younger adoptive parent and the child.

RESIDENTIAL REQUIREMENTS:
Prospective adoptive parent(s) must come to Ecuador and expect to remain for three to four weeks to finalize the adoption as stated below. Once an adoption decree is issued, only one parent needs to remain in Ecuador, usually an additional one week.
TIME FRAME: The adoption process in Ecuador generally takes between nine to sixteen months from beginning to end. Adopting families must first contact an adoption agency (listed below) that will provide general instructions about international adoption procedures. The adoption agency will assist prospective adoptive parents with the preparation and filing of U.S. citizenship documentation including the home study and the I-600A for DHS approval. This process takes three to four months. An additional six months to one year is needed for further adjudication once these documents are forwarded to the representative agency in Ecuador.

Credits: U.S. Department of State

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