An Open Door Adoption : El Salvador

El Salvador Adoption Overview

Located in the heart of Central America, El Salvador is the smallest, most densely populated country in the region. With a population of just over six million people, El Salvador is known for its beauty, its volcanoes, its coffee production and its abundant natural resources of petroleum, arable land and hydropower.

El Salvador is currently accepting applications for relative adoptions. If you are a citizen of the United States and have a relative in El Salvador you wish to adopt, we may be able to help you. We are currently working with several families to complete an adoption in El Salvador.

To apply, you need to be married for at least five years, at least one of you must be a US citizen, and you must be of the Christian faith. One you have received approval from the agency, we will start the process by finding a home study agency in your state.

Open Door will help you file all the required documents for USCIS, including the I800a, and the I800. We will help you through each stage of the process and we will connect you with our attorney in El Salvador, who has been incredibly helpful as we navigate the process.

Adoptions from El Salvador are lengthy and complex, but we are committed to assist our families through each stage of the process.




El Salvador Adoption Eligibility

  • Age of Adopting Parents: Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than the child.
  • Marriage: Single individuals may adopt in El Salvador if they are at least 25 years old and at least 15 years older than the child to be adopted. Married couples must both be over the age of 25, unless the marriage is at least five years old, in which case the requirement applies only to one spouse.
  • Income: Prospective adoptive parents must demonstrate that they are financially, morally, mentally, and physically able to provide for the adopted child.
  • Faith: Both parents must be of the Christian faith.


El Salvador Adoption Process


The adoption process begins with an application to An Open Door Adoption Agency (downloadable from our web site), a Service Agreement, followed by a home study, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) application I800A, and a relatively brief dossier. For most families, the process of completing this dossier takes about four -six months.


Once the dossier is completed, a legalization process begins, followed by translation, then review and approval by the Salvadoran government.

From Adoption.State.Gov:


If both the United States and El Salvador determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the central authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the central authority for Convention adoptions in El Salvador may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in El Salvador. The adoption authority in El Salvador will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the adoption authority in El Salvador.

ISNA investigates the circumstances of an orphaned or neglected child’s family and seeks to find a close relative who may be willing to care for the child. Once satisfied that intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interest, ISNA determines which prospective adoptive parents are suitable matches for the child. OPA is responsible for coordinating with ISNA when a child is matched with prospective adoptive parents.


After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.


After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from El Salvador.

The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the Salvadoran Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from El Salvador where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Salvadoran’s Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.


The family, upon receiving I800 approval, needs:

  • The article 5 from the Salvadoran central authority.
    In order to receive the Article 5 you will need
    The ds 260 filled out
    The birth certificate of the child
    Copies of court documents, showing loss of parental authority of the biological parents
    Temporary custody of the adoptive couple
    A letter from the institutional allocation committee to four and families
    A document proving OPA’s match to adoptive couple
  • After the Article 5 is received, the attorney sends it to OPA
    The US Embassy provides the Article 5 to the central authority as a green light to begin the adoption process in the country.
  • The Article 5 goes from OPA to the Attorney General so she can issue a document approving the adoption.
    This document notifies the attorney that she can go to OPA to get the original documentation and go to the Family Court to begin processing the hearing.
    Then, the court issues a hearing date after about 2 to 3 weeks.
    In the hearing, the old birth certificate is canceled and the new order for the new birth certificate is issued.
    The lawyer requests the court issue two certified copies of the adoption ruling.
    One copy is submitted to OPA by the attorney, as well as the new birth certificate.
    OPA is notified that the adoption hearing has been completed.
  • OPA then extends the Article 23 signed by the Attorney General.
    Then, parents take the new birth certificate, and the other copy of the adoption ruling to the migration office to apply for a passport. This will cost $25 and will take 2 to 3 weeks to receive.
    When you have received the birth certificate, passport, the certified copy of the adoption ruling, and article 23, notify the US Embassy by email, letting them know you are ready for your doctor’s appointment and visa interview.
  • The embassy then sends the family an approved list of doctors to complete the medical report. The family goes to the diagnostic center and has the report completed. This will cost $500.
    The doctor will also request to have a photo made of the child during this appointment.
    At the appointment you will be allowed to submit the Affidavit Concerning Exemption from Immigrant Vaccination Requirements, downloaded at: or found further along in the guidebook. This form may be completed only if your child is under the age of 10 AND you do not want your child/children to be vaccinated in El Salvador (if records of the child’s current vaccination status don’t exist), then signed by at least one parent and notarized in the U.S., or one parent may sign at the Consulate without need for a notary. We suggest that if you are adopting a child under the age of 10 you do use this form and follow up with needed vaccinations once you return to the United States.
    Another form you will need during the medical examination is the Acknowledgment of Health Issues of the Adopted Child. If both parents are present at the time of the Embassy appointment then both may sign the document at that time in front of a consular officer. However, if one parent has returned to the United States then the parent not present must have signed the form in the United States in the presence of a notary.
    The family send the medical results of the appointment to the embassy.
    The embassy schedules the visa appointment.
    During this time pictures will be made of the child.
    The documents will need to be in English and Spanish both, so you will need to talk about to your attorney about getting the documents translated.
    You will go to your visa appointment.
    After your appointment you will leave your passport there for three days.
    After the three-days, the embassy will return the child’s passport and issue the visa and other documents needed once you have returned home

You are now free to go home!


Time Frame: Salvadoran adoption procedures can take 18 to 36 months to complete, but have often taken much longer. This does not include the time necessary for the U.S. Embassy to complete its own investigation, as required by immigration regulations. Because adoption fraud in El Salvador has taken a variety of forms, an investigation of each adoption is necessary to ensure that the child is an orphan, as defined by U.S. immigration law, and that the birth mother is aware that the child is being adopted irrevocably and will be taken from the country. Investigation times vary depending on the complexity of each case.