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 one of the most popular surfing destinations in the world and is known for its beaches on the Pacific Ocean and mountainous landscape. Its Ruta de las Flores is an interesting path that passes through coffee plantations, tropical forests with waterfalls and cities like Juayua, with festivals every weekend, along with Ataco, where there are cheerful murals. The capital city, San Salvador, has volcanoes as a spectacular backdrop as well as several museums and the National Theater. Its climate is warm tropical, but can vary due to the geographical contract. El Salvador borders Guatamala to the west and Honduras to the north and east and the Gulf of Fonseca separates it from Nicaragua in the southwest. It is flanked to the south by the Pacific Ocean.
Open Door is currently the only Hague accredited agency licensed to work in El Salvador. Children available for international adoption are generally between the ages of seven and fifteen. This is an ideal program for families interested in adopting relatives, an older child, a group of siblings, or a child with some health problems or special needs.
El Salvador Adoption Eligibility
- Age of Adopting Parents: Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years old, and at least 15 years older, but not more than 45 years older, than the child.
- Marriage: Single women and married couples can adopt in El Salvador. Couples must be married for at least 2 and 1/2 years.
- Income: Prospective adoptive parents must demonstrate that they are financially, morally, mentally and physically capable of supporting the adopted child.
- Faith: Both parents must be of the Christian faith. This is an agency requirement.
- Citizenship: At least one parent must be a US Citizen.
- Criminal History: Must have a clean criminal history for the past ten years
El Salvador Adoption Process
The adoption process begins with an application to The Open Door Adoption Agency which can be completed on this website. Our Director will review and approve the request and our office will send you additional materials, called our “Service Package.” There are documents that must be signed, notarized, and returned to the agency to officially begin the adoption process. At the same time, you can start your home study. The Open Door can complete the home study for your family if you live in the state of Georgia. We can also help you find a home study agency for out of state families. Once the home study draft is complete, our agency will review the home study to make sure it meets USCIS and El Salvador standards. Upon completion of the home study, you will submit the I-800A application to USCIS (an application to be approved as an international adoptive family by USCIS, and the first step of the US immigration process). While you wait for your approval from USCIS, you will be working on the documents for your dossier. El Salvador requires a psychological evaluation of the family by a licensed psychologist as part of the record. The Open Door Adoption consultant will guide you through the filing process. For most families, the process of completing the home study and the dossier takes five to seven months.
Once the dossier is completed, the documents are sent to El Salvador where they are translated into Spanish and sent to the adoption authority in El Salvador called the Oficina para Adopciones.The Oficina para Adopciones will review the file. A joint multi-party meeting will be scheduled after a psychologist and social worker review the documents. A family’s suitability for adoption is determined at this meeting. Families will be interviewed online or may be asked to travel to El Salvador to interview with Oficina para Adopciones.
The family will then receive a referral if both the United States and El Salvador determine that you are eligible to adopt, if Oficina para Adopciones has determined that a child is available for adoption that meets your desire and approval and that international adoption is in the best interest of that child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your file and the needs of a specific child in El Salvador. The adoption authority in El Salvador will provide a background check and other information, if available, on 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 notifies the adoption authority in El Salvador. The adoptive family may visit the child with prior authorization after accepting the referral.
The Central Authority of El Salvador has a Unique Registry of adoption of girls, boys, adolescents and children suitable for adoption which is under the responsibility of Oficina para Adopciones. In that registry, people can wait up to two years for Oficina para Adopciones to assign a child to a family according to the age, health, sex, and availability of the child. If a match is not achieved within this time period, the family must submit new documents if they wish to continue with the adoption process.
Once a child is assigned to a family, the Oficina para Adopciones will issue the Article 16 report and other documents that are required to file the I800 (application to adopt a specific child) with USCIS. USCIS will make an interim 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.
The Open Door will help you file all required documents for USCIS, including the I800a and I800. We will assist you at every stage of the adoption process and connect you with our attorney in El Salvador, who will guide you through the process in the country.
After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption consultant will assist you in submitting a visa application to the Consular Section of the United States Embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador, which is responsible for issuing immigrant visas for children of El Salvador.
The consular office will send a letter (called the “Article 5 Letter”) to the Salvadoran Central Authority in any international adoption that involves US citizen parents and a child from El Salvador where all the requirements of the Convention are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears to be eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Central Authority of El Salvador that the parents are eligible and suitable to adopt, that everything indicates that the child can enter and reside permanently in the Unites States, and that the Central Authority of the United States accepts that adoption can proceed.
It is at this time when the Attorney General of the Republic authorizes the adoption that the administrative stage ends and we start the judicial process with the presentation of the request that meets the requirements of the law.
A hearing will be scheduled in court that both adoptive parents must attend. Prior to the court hearing, they must appear for an interview with the specialists attached to the court if the judge deems it appropriate. Our attorney will prepare you for the court hearing and represent you in court.
A second hearing is scheduled for the delivery of the child or adolescent if the child is not a relative and a judge will announce the rights and obligations that the adoption entails. The adoptive family will take custody of the child once the judge makes the material delivery of the child or adolescent.
When the court decree is issued, the family will work with our attorney to cancel the old birth certificate and have a new one issued for the child. The Office of the Attorney General of the Republic issues an Article 23 certificate that certifies that the adoption complies with the Hague Convention. The family will apply for a new passport for the child, the child will have a medical examination, and then a visa interview will be scheduled for the child and the adoptive family.
Time Frame: Families adopting children from institutions can expect an estimated travel time of 5-6 weeks in country. Families adopting relatives should expect an estimated time of 4 weeks in country. One parent can return to the US after the court hearing. The family can travel home with their child once the steps listed above have been completed. The estimated period for an international adoption in El Salvador is approximately 2-3 years but it depends on the complexity of each case and the amount of time it takes the family to complete their documents.