Us Dept of State file on adoptions from Paraguay

U.S. Department of State
1995: International Adoption -- Paraguay
Bureau of Consular Affairs

Paraguay Adoptions Microlog Text
(202) 736-7000

The Government of Paraguay has suspended registration of new
foreign adoptions, effective September 18, 1995. Paraguayan
judges and legislators have assured the U.S. Embassy in
Asuncion that, all pipeline cases, those cases formally
assigned a case number in a specific juvenile court before
September 18, will be processed to conclusion.

The Government of Paraguay has imposed this suspension in
response to persistent allegations of adoption fraud. The
suspension, foreseen in principle for one year, will give the
Government of Paraguay time to A) review current cases, B)
write a new adoption law, and C) create a new governmental
entity to regulate adoptions.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Paraguay has warned,
however, that some of the many new adoption cases which were
registered during the last months preceding the September 18
suspension might be fraudulent and all new cases will be
examined closely.

The Embassy will continue to do everything possible to assist
adoptive parents in understanding how these changes will effect
adoption processing in Paraguay. U.S. citizens whose cases are
already being processed should contact their adoption agencies
and Paraguayan attorneys for confirmation of when their cases
were registered. U.S. citizens should consider with caution
any offer of newly available orphans in Paraguay.

INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION - PARAGUAY

DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION IN THIS CIRCULAR RELATING TO THE
LEGAL REQUIREMENTS OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN COUNTRIES IS PROVIDED
FOR GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY. QUESTIONS INVOLVING
INTERPRETATION OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN LAWS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO
FOREIGN COUNSEL.

TRAVEL NOTICE: On May 20, 1994, the Department of State issued
a Travel Notice regarding adoption in Paraguay. This was the
latest update on a series of travel notices beginning
September 25, 1989. The May 20, 1994 notice, which remains in
effect as of the date of this information flyer provides:

"Due to serious problems encountered in the adoption
process in Paraguay, including chronic unpredictability in
the issuance of final decrees and uncertainty over case
processing and prospects for proposed adoption
regulations, the U.S. Embassy strongly urges prospective
adopting parents to postpone any commitment to a
Paraguayan prospect until such time as the situation at
minor court is clarified. Some adoptions have been put on
hold pending court investigations of local lawyers,
notaries and government officials responsible for
documentation of birth and abandonment. American citizens
who have secured court dates with the judge handling their
international adoptions petition, should be aware that
prospective parents' stay in Asuncion is often a prolonged
one. The consular officer is not authorized to act as
agents on behalf of U.S. citizens seeking to adopt
Paraguayan children.

PROVISO: On April 22, 1992, the Paraguayan Supreme Court
promulgated new regulations regarding international adoptions.
These changes reflect the judiciary's efforts to bring
Paraguayan adoption practice in line with the United Nations
Declaration on the Rights of Children. The general thrust of
these regulations is an effort to locate adoptive parents in
Paraguay rather than to send abandoned children abroad for
adoption. Many procedural innovations introduced by the
Principal Minors Court judge as a check against induced
abandonment, now expanded by the Supreme Court, also protect
the adopting parent by flagging improprieties sooner rather
than later.

Internal Paraguayan politics recently have sparked a national
debate on international adoptions, which resulted in a
temporary suspension of the signing of adoption decrees by the
Minors Court Judge in August 1993. The judge has resumed
signing decrees, but is doing so sporadically and generally is
exercising great caution in approving adoption cases. The U.S.
Embassy is doing everything in its power to attempt to speed up
the process, but the Department of State advises prospective
adopting parents who have not yet initiated the adoption
process to postpone any commitment to a Paraguayan prospective
child until the situation at juvenile court is clarified. The
time frame for final decree signatures is still uncertain. Due
to judicial privilege, the U.S. Embassy must limit its
intervention in the judicial process to status inquiries, but
continues to do everything it can to help Americans already
caught in the process.

GENERAL:

U.S. citizens interested in adopting a Paraguayan child must
comply with the laws of Paraguay, with U.S. Immigration laws
and any state pre-adoption requirements (including home study
and fingerprint check). The American Embassy and the
Department of State stand ready to assist adoptive parents,
within the limits of our authority. Reports to the American
Embassy or the Department of State about successes or problems
with foreign adoptions are very useful and any assistance
adoptive parents can provide in this regard is much appreciated.

AVAILABILITY OF CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION: Recent U.S. immigrant
visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance
to orphans:

IR-3 Immigrant Visas IR-4 Immigrant Visas
Fiscal Issued to Paraguayan Issued to Paraguayan
Year Orphans Adopted Abroad Orphans Adopted in U.S.

FY-1990 281 30
FY-1991 189 2
FY-1992 302 5
FY-1993 379 3
FY-1994 479 4

PARAGUAYAN ADOPTION AUTHORITY:

Adoptions in Paraguay are the responsibility of the Protection
of Minors Directorate (DGPM) and the Paraguayan courts.

PARAGUAYAN ADOPTION PROCEDURES:

There are two types of adoptions in Paraguay, full and simple
adoptions. The majority of the U.S. cases are simple
adoptions. Simple adoptions transfer parental authority to the
adopting parents. Simple adoptions do not sever the child from
his biological patrimonial rights. Simple adoptions are easier
and processing is limited to the lawyer who prepares the
groundwork for a natural parent to release the baby at court.
Full adoptions only proceed when the baby is an orphan (of both
parents), abandoned or of unknown parents or the parental
rights were cancelled.

For four years following a domestic adoption, a follow-up home
study report must be received by the judge or social workers
designated by the judge three times a year. Foreign adoptive
parents who come to Paraguay to adopt will be sworn by
Paraguayan adoption judges to comply with this requirement
three times a year for four years, either through their
adoption agency, the Paraguay attorney or via whatever state
agency in the state of the parent(s) residence would be charged
with adoption issues. The Paraguayan lawyer who handles the
adoption case will be required to deposit a bond of three
hundred Paraguayan minimum wage with the judge to guarantee
that these follow-up home studies are actually performed.

AGE AND CIVIL STATUS REQUIREMENTS:

If you are a single parent, you must be more than thirty-five
years of age. Single parents adopting a baby of her/his sex
must be at least thirty years older than the adoptive child.
If the parents are married, the age does not matter if they
have been married for at least five years and have no
children. Nobody older than sixty years can adopt.

TIME FRAME:

Adoption in Paraguay can take 8 weeks from beginning to end.
However, delays of an additional 12 weeks or more are not
unusual. Recently, delays of 6 - 8 months appear to be the
norm.

PARAGUAYAN FEES:

The average cost for adopting a child in Paraguay is $15,000.
This includes the sums the adopting parents are asked to pay to
facilitate various states of the adoption process. It is
useful if American adoptive parents keep the Embassy and the
Department of State informed about exorbitant fees for
adoptions.

ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS:

Lists of English speaking attorneys are available from the
American Embassy or the Department of State. Although a number
of U.S. based adoption agencies are involved in Paraguayan
adoptions, the Government of Paraguay has not specifically
authorized any U.S. based adoption agencies to place Paraguayan
children for adoption by U.S. citizens.

PARAGUAYAN DOCUMENTARY REQUIREMENTS:

What Documents Does Paraguay Require:

certified copy of marriage certificate (if married)

certified copy of home study

power of attorney, if dealing with a lawyer; application if
dealing with an agency, with the name of the child to be adopted

2-3 letters of recommendation

Police clearance from the town where prospective adoptive
parents reside

passport-size photos of adopting parent(s)

Clearance from medical doctor

proof of economic condition (income, employment, savings,
mortgage)

Translation Requirements:

All English language documents must be accompanied by a
certified Spanish translation.

Authentication Requirements:

In addition, all foreign (U.S.) documents, including
translation certificate, must be authenticated.

Generally, U.S. civil records, such as birth, death, and
marriage certificates must bear the seal of the issuing office,
then be authenticated by the state Secretary of State in the
United States, then by U.S. Department of State Authentication
Office, then by the Paraguayan Embassy or Consulate.

Tax returns, medical reports and police clearances should
likewise be authenticated, beginning with the seal of a notary
public in the United States or some appropriate issuing
office. The notary's seal should be authenticated by the clerk
of court of the county where the notary is licensed or some
similar authority. The document should then be authenticated
by the state Secretary of State, the U.S. Department of State
Authentication Office, and the Paraguayan Embassy or
Consulate.

The U.S. Department of State Authentication Office is
located at 2400 M Street, N.W., Room 101, Washington, D.C.
20520, tel: (202) 647-5002. Walk-in service is available 8
a.m. to 12 noon Monday-Friday, except holidays. The Department
charges $4.00 per document for this service, payable in the
form of a check drawn on a U.S. bank or money order made
payable to the Department of State.

It is advisable to bring several copies of the completely
authenticated documentation with you to Paraguay.

PARAGUAYAN EMBASSY AND CONSULATES IN U.S.:

Embassy of Paraguay
Consular Section
2400 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
tel: (202) 483-6960

Consulate of Paraguay
7205 N.W. 19th St.
Miami, FL 33126

Consulate General of Paraguay
Consular Section
611 Gravier St., Suite 903
New Orleans, Louisiana 70103

Consulate General of Paraguay
Consular Section
1 World Trade Center, Suite 1609
New York, NY 10048

In addition, Paraguay has honorary consuls in Anchorage,
Alaska; Los Angeles, California; San Francisco, California;
Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS:

Orphans adopted abroad who have been in the custody of the
adoptive parents less than two years require orphan petitions
for U.S. immigrant visa processing to enter the United States.

Get Started Early With U.S. Immigration Procedure:

Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that, whether they
identify a child prior to leaving the U.S. or locate the child
on a trip to Paraguay, certain very time consuming processes
will have to be completed before the required U.S. Immigration
petition(s) (either the preliminary I-600A or the final I-600
petitions) can be approved. These include, but are not limited
to satisfactory completion and submission to INS of a home
study of the adopting parent(s), compliance with any state
pre-adoption conditions and a fingerprint check by INS of those
parent(s), certified copy of prospective adoptive parents'
birth certificate in U.S. or other evidence of U.S.
citizenship; certified copy of marriage certificate (if
applicable); certified copy of death certificate or divorce
decree reflecting termination of previous marriage (if
applicable). It is therefore suggested that prospective
adopting parents get in touch with the INS office having
jurisdiction over their place or residence in the U.S. at the
earliest opportunity.

Unconditional Abandonment and Meeting the Definition of Orphan:

U.S. law provides for the immigration of children adopted
overseas by Americans under section 101(B)(1)(F) of the
Immigration and Nationality Act. The law states that an
eligible child must be under the age of sixteen at the time the
immigrant visa petition is filed. The child must have no
living parents or only one living parent who is incapable of
providing for the child according to local living standards and
has irrevocably released the child for emigration and
adoption. A child with two living parents can meet the
definition of an orphan only through the disappearance of,
abandonment or desertion by or separation or loss from both
parents. Abandonment of a child must be unconditional.
Agreeing to give a child up for adoption by a specific person
does not constitute unconditional abandonment, since the
parents are giving up custody with the understanding that the
child will be cared for and will be adopted by a particular
individual. The Board of Immigration Appeals of the U.S.
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has ruled that a
child with one surviving parent who has not been abandoned may
qualify for orphan status only if the sole surviving parent is
destitute by local standards or is otherwise physically or
mentally unable to care for the child. This means that the
child may not be classified as an orphan unless the sole or
surviving parent cannot provide the child the nourishment and
shelter necessary for subsistence consistent with the local
standards of the child's place of residence. The parent must
also irrevocably release the child for emigration and
adoption. INS usually requires consular officers to
investigate the parent's inability to care for the child.

Consular Authority to Approve a Case:

;nder the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), consular
officers can only approve clearly approval I-600 petitions. If
there are any questions regarding the eligibility for orphan
status or whether petition conditions have been met, consular
officers must refer these petitions to the nearest INS office.

Taking the Child to the U.S.:

The U.S. immigrant visa petition (I-600) may be filed for the
child at the U.S. Embassy in Asuncion or any INS office. If it
is filed at the Embassy, the petitioner (or at least one of the
members of a married adoptive couple) and the child must be
physically present in the consular district. The I-600 is
filed by one person, but if the petitioner is married, the
petitioner's spouse must also sign the petition. Both parties
must sign the I-600 after the child has been identified. This
means that if one party has already gone abroad to arrange the
adoption, the I-600 must be sent by the spouse abroad to the
spouse in the United States (generally by express courier). If
the petitioner is married and his or her spouse has not seen
the child before or during the adoption proceedings, then the
child must be readopted in the U.S. To do this, the petitioner
must show he or she has met state pre-adoption requirements.
INS makes this determination at the time the I-600A is filed or
it must be established that pre-adoption requirements have been
met at the time of filing the I-600 at the Embassy.

If the INS has already approved an I-600A advanced processing
application, the I-600 petition may be filed and adjudicated at
the post to which the I-600A was sent. If advanced approval
has not yet been granted, the I-600 petition must be forwarded
to the INS for adjudication. If so, as noted above, a home
study and fingerprinting of parent(s) and any state
pre-adoption requirements will be necessary, perhaps requiring
several months.

Scheduling Appointment With U.S. Consular Officer:

It is advisable to contact the Consular Section of the U.S.
Embassy in Asuncion at least one day in advance to check that
the documents are in order and to set an appointment for the
immigrant visa interview. The Embassy cannot guarantee
issuance of the visa in advance of the interview. If you are
outside the U.S. and the child has completed his medical
examination, you will have a preliminary interview with the
consular officer in order to complete form I-604 "Request for
and Report on Overseas Orphan Investigation". The child must
be present at the Embassy for the immigrant visa application.
The medical examination must be performed by a physician from
an approved list of physicians using a specified form. Unless
special circumstances, such as a physical handicap, indicate
the child's care will be particularly costly, the adopting
parents will not be required to provide further proof of their
financial situation, as this information will have already been
provided at the time of petition (I-600A or I-600) approval.

What Documents to Bring With You to U.S. Embassy:

Note: Since each case is different, it is possible that the
Embassy will request additional documents after a preliminary
review of the application of the prospective adoptive parent(s).

For the immigrant visa application the child will need:

1. Certified copy of child's birth certificate issued by the
civil registrar indicating the name of both parents if known.

2. If birth father, mother or both are deceased, certified
copy of death certificate issued by civil registrar.

3. Relinquishment of parental rights executed before
appropriate Paraguayan authority.

4. Adoption decree or guardianship order issued by a judge
with the future purpose of a full adoption in the U.S.

5. Authorization from a Judge to permit the minor to leave
Paraguay.

6. Valid Paraguayan passport.

7. Two 1 3/4 inch color visa photographs.

8. Medical examination (according to Embassy instructions).
If the minor has a physical or mental disability, a notarized
statement will be required from the prospective adoptive
parent(s) in the United States indicating that they are fully
aware of the physical or mental disability of the minor and in
spite of that fact that they have the intention of finalizing
the adoption. This statement can be included in item 19 of
form I-600 and also in the home study if more convenient. In
that case a separate notarized statement will not be required.

9. In cases where the minor has not been seen or observed in
person by the prospective adoptive parent(s), a notarized
statement by those parents will be required indicating that
although they have not seen or observed the minor in person,
they are nevertheless willing to adopt or re-adopt the minor in
the United States. Both parties must sign the I-600 after the
child has been identified. This means that if one party has
gone abroad to arrange the adoption, and the other remained in
the U.S., the I-600 must be sent by one spouse to the other
with the child's identity information completed and an original
signature of the spouse reflecting their concurrence with the
procedure. This is generally done by express courier in the
interests of time.

10. In the case of a minor taken to the United States by a
third party, for example a legal representative or social
assistant of an adoption agency or other entity, a notarized
statement will be required authorizing that person to take the
minor the United States with the purpose of placing him/her
with the prospective adoptive parent(s). This statement can
also be included in the Judge's authorization for the child to
leave Paraguay. Note: There are no provisions in INS
regulations for approving petitions signed by agents with
powers of attorney. Consequently, even if an agent is
physically accompanying the child to the U.S., the petition
itself must be signed by the adoptive parent(s), after the
child has been identified.

U.S. FEES:

INS Fees for I-600 and I-600A Petitions: There is an INS fee
of $155 for an I-600 or I-600A petition. If you have a valid
I-600A and file an I-600 within one year of the approval of the
I-600A, no fee will be charged for the I-600 provided you are
only petitioning for one child or for siblings. If you are
petitioning for more than one child and the children are not
siblings, the I-600 fee will be charged.

U.S. State Department authentication fee: If you are having
documents authenticated by the Department of State
Authentication Office, there is a fee of $4.00 per document.

Medical Examination Fee:

The adopted child must have a medical examination performed by
one of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate's panel physicians before
the immigrant visa can be issued. The cost of this medical
examination is approximately U.S. $12.00 and must be borne by
the adoptive parent(s).

U.S. Immigrant Visa Fee: The fee for the immigrant visa is
$200.00 and may be paid either in U.S. dollars or local
currency. This $200 does not include medical examinations,
costs of documents, the petition, etc. The American Embassy
does not accept personal checks or credit cards.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Prospective adopting parents should consult INS publication No.
M-249, "The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive
Children" and the Department of State information flyer
"International Adoptions".

AMERICAN EMBASSY ASSISTANCE:

Upon arrival in Paraguay to try to arrange an adoption, U.S.
citizens should register at the American Embassy, Consular
Section, American Citizens Services. The Embassy will be able
to provide information about any outstanding travel advisories
and to provide other information about Paraguay including lists
of physicians, attorneys, interpreters and translators. The
American Embassy is located at 1776 Mariscal Lopez Ave.,
Casilla Postal 402, Asuncion, Paraguay, tel:
011-595-21-213-715; fax: 011-595-21-213-728.

QUESTIONS: Specific questions regarding adoptions in Paraguay
may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or
Consulate. You may also contact the Office of Children's
Issues, U.S. Department of State, Room 4800 N.S., 2201 C
Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, telephone (202)
647-2688 with specific adoption questions. Recorded
information concerning significant changes in adoption
procedures is available 24 hours a day at: (202) 736-7000, or
by automated fax (calling from the telephone on your fax
machine) at (202) 647-3000. If the country you are interested
in is not listed, procedures have not significantly changed.
Information on immigrant visas is available from the State
Department's Visa Office, at (202) 663-1225. This 24 hour
automated system includes options to speak with consular
officers during business hours for questions not answered in
the recorded material. Application forms and petitions for
immigrant visas are available from the U.S. Immigration and
Naturalization Service, the nearest office of which is listed
in the federal pages of your telephone book, under U.S.
Department of Justice.

In addition, the State Department publishes Consular
Information Sheets and Travel Warnings. Consular Information
Sheets are available for every country in the world, providing
information such as the location of the U.S. Embassy, health
conditions, political situations, and crime reports. When
situations are sufficiently serious that the State Department
recommends U.S. citizens avoid traveling to a country, a Travel
Warning is issued. Both Consular Information Sheets and Travel
Warnings may be heard 24 hours a day by calling the State
Department's Office of Overseas Citizens Services at
(202) 647-5225 from a touch-tone telephone. The recording is
updated as new information becomes available. In addition,
this information is accessible through the automated fax
machine, as above, and is also available at any of the 13
regional passport agencies, field offices of the U.S.
Department of Commerce, and U.S. Embassies and Consulates
abroad. Furthermore, you may write in requesting information,
sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Overseas Citizens
Services, Room 4811 N.S., 2201 C St., N.W., U.S. Department of
State, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818. Finally, information is
available through your personal computer. If you have a
computer and a modem, you can access the Consular Affairs
Bulletin Board (CABB). This service is free of charge, and may
be reached at: (202) 647-9225. Consular Information Sheets and
Travel Warnings may also be accessed by subscribers to many
on-line services. For complete information on accessing
consular information via computer, please request document
1016, entitled "Consular Information Program," from the
automated fax system, which is described in the preceding
paragraph.

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