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International Adoption - Argentina

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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 legal counsel.

There presently is no international adoption in Argentina. Adoption is restricted to Argentine citizens and Argentine permanent resident aliens, residing in and who intend to continue residing in Argentina. The main reason for such strict regulations is the desire by the Argentine Government that Argentine-born children not lose contact with their native surroundings, culture, and community.

On September 14, 1994, a new adoption bill was introduced and provisionally approved by the House of Representatives. The Argentine Law number 24779, which regulates adoptions, was passed on February 28, 1997.

Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S. based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and licensing office of the Department of Health and Family Services in the state where the agency is located.

GENERAL: The following is a guide for U.S. citizens who are interested in adopting a child in Argentina. This process can be expensive, time consuming, and difficult, involving complex Argentinean and American legal requirements. U.S. consular officers give each petition careful consideration on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the legal requirements of both countries have been met, for the protection of the prospective adoptive parent(s), the biological parent(s), and the child. Interested U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to contact U.S. consular officials in Argentina before formalizing an adoption agreement to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed which will make it possible for the Embassy to issue a U.S. immigrant visa for the child.

AVAILABILITY OF CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics show that in the past four years there were no IR-3 visas given or IR-4 visas given.

ARGENTINIAN ADOPTION PROCEDURES: Persons wishing to adopt will have to file an application with the court having jurisdiction over the adoptive parent's/parents' domicile. Their names will be placed on a single nationwide list by filing date and be made public. Any interested person may check his/her order on the list. The Most Relevant parts of the new adoption law are:

The new adoption law provides that the natural parent or parents must make a release of a child for adoption to the court only. This release is irrevocable and can only be signed at the court by appointment set by a judge within the 60-day period after the child's birth. It cannot be done immediately following the birth in order to allow the mother to meditate and realize the magnitude of the action to be taken.

The Court will take this opportunity to find out the personal conditions of the biological parents, their age, ability to take care of the child, reasons for the release for adoption and any other considerations and information pertinent to this act. In this regard the judge may request the opinion of, technical advice from, and/or the effective participation of the public ministry (Defensorías de Menores e Incapaces) to determine the best interests of the child.

A release will not be necessary in those instances when the child is a ward of the court; already an orphan on the streets, or placed in a government institution continuously for more than one year without any indication of interest from the natural parent. This makes the moral and material abandonment of the child evident and that the situation has been verified by a judicial authority.

The release for adoption or granting guardianship by a biological parent through a public instrument signed in front of a notary public or through any other administrative act is expressly prohibited.

The court will then release the child (ren) in guardianship to the prospective adoptive parents. To protect the child and prevent trafficking of babies, the child shall remain under the jurisdiction of the court for the full period of guardianship. In no case will the child be permitted to depart Argentina. Application for adoption can only be filed after the guardianship period of not less than six months and not more than twelve months has elapsed. Natural parents will lose all rights (Patria Potestas) and obligations. These rights will be transferred to the adoptive parents. The application for adoption must be filed with the court having jurisdiction over the parents' domicile or at the court, which granted the guardianship.

The adoption law requires that an adopted child be informed of his/her adoption at a time considered to be convenient by the adopting parents. This is a requirement to be signed at the court at the time of granting adoption.

Adopted children will have the right to know their true biological identity and will have access to their adoption file once they have reached the age of 18.

Due to the complex nature of Argentine adoption law, the U.S. Embassy is not able to offer specific advice on how to obtain guardianship or to process adoptions in the Argentine courts. The Embassy can only offer guidance on the procedures to qualify an orphan for an immigrant visa to the United States in those very rare cases that qualify under the Argentine law.

AGE AND CIVIL STATUS REQUIREMENTS: Under the new law, the adoptive parent must be at least 30 years of age if single, and in every case the tentative adoptive parent must be at least 18 years older than the adoptee. There is no minimum age if married, but the couple must have been married for at least 3 years and have no offspring. If a couple can prove that they are physically unable to have a child the court will consider marriages of less than 3 years. Applicant must be an Argentine national or Argentine permanent resident alien who has been residing permanently in Argentina for at least the last 5 (five) years immediately preceding the application for guardianship. This must be duly documented. Any person can apply for adoption if he or she meets the requirements set by the law regardless of civil status. Married people can only jointly adopt, except in the following cases:

a) Legal separation decree
b) Spouse declared insane by a court, or
c) Judicial declaration of absence of spouse (spousal absence with presumption of death).

*United States citizens who have further questions regarding immigrant visas, involving adopted children, may contact the Buenos Aires consular section's public inquiries , or visit the consular section between 10:30 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. or 2:00 P.M. to 4:30 P.M., Tuesdays and Thursdays, except U.S. and Argentine legal holidays. The U.S. embassy in is located at Avenida Colombia 3400, in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires*

American citizens interested in adopting children from abroad may obtain further information from the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult INS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as, the Department of State publication, International Adoptions.

QUESTIONS: Specific questions regarding adoption in Spain may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Spain. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues (CA/OCS/CI), 2201 C Street, N.W., SA-22, Room 2100, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818.

Information is also available 24 hours a day from several sources:

Telephone- Office of Children's Issues - recorded information regarding changes in adoption procedures and general information, (202) 736-7000 - State Department Visa Office- recorded information concerning immigrant visas for adoptive children, (202) 663-1225. (This 24 hour automated system includes options to speak with consular officers during business East Coast hours about questions not answered in the recorded material)- Immigration and Naturalization Service- recorded information for requesting immigrant visa application forms, 1-800-870-FORM (3676).

Automated Fax-contains the full text of the office's international adoption information flyers and general information brochure, International Adoptions. From the telephone on your fax machine, call (202) 647-3000.

Internet- the Consular Affairs web site, contains international adoption information flyers and the International Adoptions brochure

INS Web site: http://www.ins.usdoj.gov

Other information:

Consular Information Sheets: Published by the State Department and available for every country in the world, they provide information such as the location of the U.S. Embassy, health conditions, political situations, and crime reports. The information is available 24 hours a day by calling the State Department's Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. The recordings are updated as new information becomes available, and are also accessible through automated fax machine and the web site, as above.
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