Ecuador Adoption Overview
In 2022, The Open Door was approved to facilitate adoptions in Ecuador. We are excited to return to our work there. We previously facilitated adoption there from the years 1998-2003. The Government of Ecuador carefully regulates adoption according to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. Open Door works with a very reputable attorney in Quito who guides you through the adoption process in country. The Open Door serves to match families with children and adolescents with a declaration of adoptability in the Ecuadoran child protection system who are children older than seven years of age, groups of siblings, and/or children who have some degree of disability or health condition. Relative adoption may also be possible if the child meets the eligibility criteria for intercountry adoption.
Age of Adopting Parents: If married, both parents must be over 25 years of age and have been married for more than three years. There must be an age difference of at least 14 years between the younger parent and the child, and no more than 45 years between the younger parent and the child.
Marriage: Both single women and married individuals may apply to adopt. Ecuadorian law only recognizes the opposite sex marriages. Couples must be married three years.
Income: Prospective adoptive parents must demonstrate the means to support the physical, emotional, and financial needs of the child. Please speak with our staff if you have any history of mental illness or a criminal history. The Open Door seeks Christian adoptive parents.
Waiting children are in government run orphanages and a few private orphanages. The Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES) maintains a database of children who have been declared eligible for intercountry adoption. Families may review information on children from this list after they have applied to The Open Door and have an approved home study. Ecuador provides detailed information on the child’s medical, social, and emotional health. Families can request a specific child from the list at which time MIES will determine if the match is suitable. Ecuador adoption authorities have full responsibility for issuing the referral of a child or children to a family Once approved by both US and Ecuador authorities, the family can receive the official referral of a child and complete the US immigration process and receive permission to travel to Ecuador for the adoption.
The adoption process is finalized in Ecuador. It requires both parents to travel to meet the child and complete a bonding period that is overseen by the adoption authorities. A report of the compatibility and bonding success will be reviewed with an adoption petition and all supporting documents by the judge. The Prospective Adoptive parents will then appear in court to finalize the adoption. Once an adoption decree is issued and a three-day waiting period ends, the family, guided by our representative, will obtain all the necessary documents for the child to come home to the US. This time in Ecuador can rage from six to eight weeks. If necessary, one parent can leave Ecuador after the court hearing.
All intercountry adoptions are governed by the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The US Central Authority for intercountry adoption is the Department of State, Office of Children’s issues. See Intercountry Adoption – Travel.Gov for more information. The Ecuador Central Authority for adoption is the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion. See Ministerio de Inclusión Económica y Social. The Open Door Adoption Agency is a Hague Accredited Agency approved to facilitate adoptions in Ecuador.
The adoption process begins with a Prospective Adoptive Parent’s inquiry and discussion with a knowledgeable International Adoption Consultant. We can help you decide if adopting in Ecuador is right for your family and if you meet the initial requirements. The consultant will guide you to complete an online application. Our director will review the application. If approved, our office will send you additional materials, called our “Commitment Packet.” You will complete and return our service agreement along with other required documents and submit your commitment fee. A sample of the service agreement can be found on our website.
After committing to The Open Door and the Ecuador program, you will engage a licensed child placing agency to complete a Home Study. The Open Door can complete the home study for your family if you live in the state of Georgia. For families out of state we can assist you in locating a home study agency. The home study case worker will make an assessment as to your suitability for adoption in Ecuador. This assessment will determine the specific number of children, gender, age, and type of special needs you are willing, able, and prepared to adopt.
TRAINING & EDUCATION
As part of the home study process, both parents will be required to participate in preadoption training and education with the home study provider and through online resources. The Open Door requires our families to complete the 18-hour Families are Forever International preadoption training. This training meets all the Hague training requirements. The training is specifically geared to what you will truly encounter when parenting your adopted child. It provides valuable information about the needs of children from hard places. It also introduces you to effective parenting techniques which can be helpful when parenting a child with a trauma history.
One the home study draft is complete, our agency will review the home study to ensure that it meets USCIS and Ecuador standards. Upon finalization of the home study, you will submit the I800a application to the US Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is an application to be approved as an internationally adopting family and the first step of the US immigration process. At this time, you may begin to review children’s files with your adoption consultant. While waiting on your USCIS approval, you will be working on your dossier. The dossier includes all the documents required by Ecuador adoption authorities. This will include the home study, USCIS approval, criminal clearances, financial statements, and references among others. Ecuador also requires a psychological evaluation of the family by a licensed psychologist as part of the dossier. The Open Door adoption consultant will guide you through the entire process. For most families, the process of completing the home study and dossier is about six to nine months.
Once the dossier is complete, it is sent to Ecuador where it is translated into Spanish and submitted to the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion, Director of Adoptions, Undersecretariat of Special Protection. After the Ecuador authorities approve the family, the family may request an official referral of a child previously identified from the waiting child database, or review new files. Receiving an official referral of a child could take several months. The Ecuador authorities have final decision on matching children to a family that they have determined is in the best interest of the child.
Once you accept the referral, your Open Door adoption consultant will guide you in completing the I800 application (the second step of the US immigration process) with USCIS to receive provision approval to adopt this specific child. When this is complete, USCIS will forward the information to the Ecuador Embassy for their review. Once they agree that the child is eligible for international adoption under the Hague Convention and will be eligible to enter the US and reside permanently, they will issue the Article 5 document that allows the adoption to proceed. The family will then make arrangements to travel to Ecuador once this has been issued. It could be two to three months between the receipt of the referral and travel.
Once in the country, the family, under supervision of the Adoption Authorities, will travel to the location of the child’s orphanage to meet the child. The family will have a supervised placement period of about one week after which, provided bonding with the family is going well, a report will be issued to the Adoption Authority. Our attorney will help you to file a petition before the court and the judge will review all documents. The prospective adoptive parents will appear in court to finalize the adoption and an Adoption Decree will be issued. The decree becomes final three business days after the court hearing. The parents will then apply for the child’s new birth certificate. Once received, they will obtain a new state ID for the child and an Ecuadorian passport. The final stage is the exit medical visit visit and final visa interview at the American Embassy. Once the visa is issued, the adoptive parents may return home to the US with their child. The time in country is estimated to be six to nine weeks. Your adoption will then be final under international law!
Please note that all time frames are estimates. No two adoptions are the same. Some families can progress through the paperwork process quickly. Others may have more demands. USCIS time frames can vary and can be impacted by unforeseen situations as we saw with the COVID-19 Pandemic. In country processes are also estimates and can be delayed. You will be guided by your Open Door consultant and our expert attorney in Ecuador through the entire process.