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Adoption in Colombia

An act of love for Colombian girls, boys and adolescents.



he Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF - the Colombian Family Welfare Institute) is the state entity responsible for protecting, monitoring and guaranteeing girls, boys and adolescents in Colombia the free exercise of their rights and integrity regarding children’s higher interests, whose rights prevail over those of all others, as stipulated in the Colombian constitution. One such fundamental premise in the pursuit of this precept is the restitution to all children aged less than 18 (having a positive ruling regarding their adoptability) of the right to belong to a family where they can grow and develop; this is possible through adoption. The real sense of adoption and the basic priority for institutions and organisms responsible for the topic is none other than providing a Colombian girl, boy or adolescent with a suitable family, giving them the true warmth of a home, accompanied by affection, respect and protection, so that they can grow together, in their family roles as parents and children. ICBF has thus been the catalysing agency for thousands of loving relationships guaranteeing that our children, adolescents and families (after being prepared) become integrated into their sociofamily setting. A family thus applying for adoption must therefore be accompanied by suitable professionals in preparing the internal and external resources needed for educating their adopted children (always ensuring a deep respect for individual life projects and adoption) by using participative methodology leading to reflecting about what they are undertaking. However, we must never forget that the most important part of adoption is that it offers a girl, boy or adolescent the opportunity of having a family to which they have a right and gives the adopting party the possibility of receiving the gift of a lifetime in the form of a daughter or son who will become the centre of their homes.




CBF presents its Orientation Guide for Adoption, this being an instrument giving information about the necessary administrative requirements and paperwork involved in applying for adoption in Colombia. Law 1098/2006, the Code of Infancy and Adolescence defines the Adoption Programme in Colombia. The above regulate the Adoption Programme as a means of re-establishing rights to those girls, boys and adolescents having had a positive ruling regarding their adoptability, their parents consent or an authorisation from the family ombudsman. Likewise, the law is clear in stipulating that ICBF and all institutions authorised to process adoption will prefer (in equal conditions) requests presented by Colombians when they fulfil the requirements established in the Code of Infancy and Adolescence. If you need more information regarding the possibility of your adopting a child or adolescent, we would encourage you to come to the ICBF’s regional offices or area centres near your home place or the site closest to you. If you live outside Colombia then please contact the Colombian embassy in your home country and they will put you in touch with an ICBF representative. Likewise, you can get in touch with ICBF’s Adoption Group in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, telephone (57 1) 437 7630, extensions 2320 and 2323, or by post to the Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar’s site in Colombia at Avenida 68, No. 64 C75, Bogotá, Colombia.



What you should know about adoption I. What is adoption? According to Article 61, Law 1098/2006, “Adoption is mainly, and par excellence, a (state-monitored) means of protection by which the paternal-filial relationship between people who do not have it by nature is irrevocably established.” In other words, adoption means establishing a true family, as exists amongst members bound by ties of blood, having all the rights and duties which this implies since, by virtue of adoption, the adopting party is obliged to care for and tend an adopted child, educate, help, love and provide her/him with all the necessary conditions so that she/he can grow up in an environment of wellbeing, affection and solidarity.

II. Is there judicial support for the Adoption Programme? • The International Convention for Children’s Rights and the Convention relating to Protecting Children and Cooperation regarding International Adoption, signed in the Hague; • The Colombian Political Constitution; • The Code of Infancy and Adolescence, Law 1098/2006; • The technical guidelines of the Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar’s Adoption Programme; and • Jurisprudence.


III. Which requirements must be fulfilled for adopting someone? Article 68 of the Code for Infancy and Adolescence establishes that a person must comply with the following for joint or individual adoption: • Be fully capable; • Be older than 25; • Demonstrate sufficient physical, mental, moral and social suitability for offering a suitable and stable family to a minor (aged less than 18); and • Be at least 15 years older than the person being adopted.

IV. Who can adopt? (Article 68, Law 1098/2006). • Husbands and wives; • Single people, widows and widowers or separated people; • A pair formed by a man and woman who can demonstrate that they have lived together, uninterrupted, for at least two years. Such term will be counted from when a divorce is granted, if one of the pair has been married or has had prior matrimonial involvement; • A ward or ex-ward’s guardian, once the accounts relating to his/her administration have been approved; and • The child of a spouse or permanent companion of a spouse or companion, demonstrating that they have lived together, uninterrupted, for at least two years.


V. Who can be adopted?

• The following could also be adopted: a child of one of the permanent spouses or permanent companions who could be adopted by the other.

• Girls, boys or adolescents aged less than 18, having a positive ruling regarding their adoptability;

A person aged over 18 may become adopted when the adopting party has been responsible for his/her personal care and has lived with the person in question under the same roof for at least the last two years before he/she has had his/her 18th birthday.

The following may be adopted in Colombia:

• Girls, boys or adolescents to whose adoption prior consent has been given by their parents; • Girls, boys or adolescents aged 18 whose adoption has been authorised by the Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar’s family ombudsman, when a child is found to be in a situation of adoptability but lacks a legal representative; and

VI. Where does one go to start the adoption process? If you are in Colombia, please contact the nearest ICBF regional and/or sectional office or area centre or enter the ICBF webpage: where you will find all the necessary information regarding the topic and data concerning the authorised adoption institutions in Colombia. •If you are a Colombian or foreigner residing in Colombia: Please contact the ICBF office nearest to where you live, such as: ICBF area centres; ICBF regional centres; ICBF sectional centres; and Institutions authorised by ICBF, known Casas de Adopción (Adoption Houses – please see details on the ICBF webpage: •If you are a Colombian or a foreigner living abroad: 1. First, consult the ICBF webpage to verify whether the country where you are living comes under The Hague Convention’s Protection and Adoption clause No. 33. If this is so, please contact the Colombian embassy or central authority or central authority or accredited organisation in your country of residence which will indicate the procedure to be followed. Consult the Convention’s details on The Hague webpage:


2. If the country where you are living does not come under The Hague Convention, then contact the international adoption agency there which you will find in the list of such institutions which appears on the ICBF webpage: * If your country of residence is the USA then, in addition to the normal process, it is required that the person or one of the adopting pair does have US nationality.

VII. Considerations for processing adoption requests As noted at the beginning, adoption requires administrative paperwork to be processed with ICBF or the adoption institution, this being governed by the principle of being free of charge. This may be carried out directly by the adopting family and does not require intermediation in the case of families residing in Colombia. A lawyer’s professional services will be required later on regarding judicial paperwork for legalising the adoption before a family judge. People interested in adopting a girl, boy or adolescent must bear in mind ICBF’s technical criteria for selecting and assigning them to a family from the candidates available for adoption. Considering the greater interest of our children, even though each adoption request requires a special study, priority will be given to the following:

• Families requesting adoption for groups of a brother and a sister (or two brothers or two sisters), one of them being older than 8years old; • Families requesting to adopt girls, boys or adolescents older than 8; and • Families requesting to adopt girls, boys or adolescents having physical or mental disability, or having special health conditions. Please remember that all aspects contained in your request will be verified and that if applicants do not meet the conditions for receiving a child aged less than 18 for adoption, then such request will not be accepted.


• Colombian families;

Please remember too that simply presenting the Adoption Request form and its attached documents does not oblige ICBF to accept an applicant.

• Families requesting adoption for groups consisting of more than one brother and sister (or two brothers or two sisters) ;


Instructions for processing requests for adoption from Colombians and foreigners residing in Colombia and abroad The documents which must be appended to the Adoption Request form are given in detail below. Please fill out the “Adoption Request” form, according to the pertinent instructions and attach the following documents: 1. The applicants’ civil birth-certificates; 2. The applying pair’s civil marriage certificate or proof of the extra-matrimonial cohabitation’s suitability; 3. In the case of previous marriages, the divorce ruling clearly stating the causes motivating why it was granted; 4. A current certificate (having been issued less than sixmonths previously) of having a clean criminal record, issued by the competent authority (judicial certificate); 5. A certificate of earning power (issued by an employer regarding salary/wages and length of service); 6. A certificate of good physical health issued by a legallyauthorised doctor; 7. Foreigners residing in Colombia must prove (by documentary evidence evidence provided by the DAS) their previous and subsequent stay in the country; 8. The civil birth-certificates of the girls, boys or adolescents to be adopted by the applicants; and 9. A social and physiological study prepared by ICBF, or institutions authorised for doing so, for families residing in Colombia. Note: every attempt will be made to accompany the families during the process of adoption to guarantee that the girls and boys go to a suitable, stable and loving family and that the families gain the happiness of receiving a daughter or a son.

Additional documents for foreign families (please contact the Colombian embassy in your country of origin to clarify how to obtain these documents). 1. A certified follow-up commitment for the two years following the adoption; 2. Authorisation from the adopting family’s government for the adopted boy or girl’s to enter such country; 3. A certificate of nationality or civil birth-certificate of the children to be adopted; 4. All documents submitted must be original and bear a certificate of their genuineness (apostil, i.e. they must have been internationally legalised); and 5. All documents must be translated into Spanish by a translator who is legally recognised in Colombia. Once the process of preparation and evaluation has been finished, the party requesting adoption will be informed of whether their application has been approved via the ICBF regional or sectional adoptions committee or the authorised institution where the application was presented. Approved requests will be placed on a waiting list, after placing them in consecutive and chronological order according to the date of approval and according to characteristics of the children so requested and their availability for being adopted. Once a girl, boy or adolescent has been assigned a family then this will be communicated to the interested family, indicating her/his name together with the corresponding photograph, social and medical reports and any other information related to the child/adolescent’s particular situation thereby leading to a conscious decision being taken for continuing the process. Finally, a lawyer’s services will be required so that the corresponding petition can be presented to a family judge, as adoption requires a judicial ruling.


General considerations concerning adoption: • Adoption is irrevocable; • The adopted child/adolescent will take the surname (s) of the people adopting her/him; • For adoption, the child/adolescent being adopted will cease to belong to his/her family and all kinship regarding consanguinity with it will become extinguished; • Adoption establishes a civil relationship between the adopted person and the people adopting him/her and their consanguineous or adopted relatives; • Adopting parents have the right to enjoy and receive payment for maternity leave); • Stipulates that neither the Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar nor institutions authorised for this end for carrying out the Adoption Programme may directly or indirectly ask for any type of reward for delivering a boy, girl or adolescent for adoption and, furthermore, in no case may any type of recompense be given to the parents for handing over their children to become adopted, nor may any pressure be brought to bear on them to give their consent; and • Likewise, in no case may public servants or any person ask for any type of reward for the paperwork or steps forming part of the adoption process, from the handing over of a minor (aged under 18 in Colombia) to whom a positive ruling has been given regarding his/her adoptability, until the final event of adjudicating a girl, boy or adolescent to the family in question.

Note: Denounce any irregularity regarding the adoption process, whether administrative or judicial, to the Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF) and the competent authority.


“Adoption is a marvellous act of love in which a minor receives the protection, stability and security which a home can provide. A family becomes uplifted by the presence of a human being who will bring it infinite happiness and tenderness”. Elvira Forero Hernández

Directora General Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar

Sede Nacional / Bogotá Avenida Carrera 68 No. 64C-75 PBX: 437 7630 Denounce any irregularity to the ombudsman in Colombia, ICBF area centres or the line in Colombia: 0571 6605520

The slogan of Colombian president’s office states in its National Development Plan

“Estado Comunitario: desarrollo para todos” (everyone has the right to development in a community-based state).

Orientation Guide for Adoption in Colombia  
Orientation Guide for Adoption in Colombia  

Adoption Program Booklet in English language