Brazil is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, all adoptions between Brazil and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.
Brazilian law does not allow for a Brazilian child to travel to the United States to be adopted. Therefore, prospective adoptive parents must obtain a full and final adoption under Brazilian law before the child can immigrate to the United States.
Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Learn more.
WHO CAN ADOPT
Adoption between the United States and Brazil is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Brazil, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.
Adoption in Brazil can be a complicated process, sometimes involving long waits. Brazilian adoption law gives preference to Brazilian citizens and citizens of countries that have implemented the Hague Adoption Convention. Please be aware that without Brazilian citizenship, it is unlikely that a U.S. citizen will be able to adopt a healthy, single child under the age of 5 years. The following types of children are most commonly available to U.S. citizens without Brazilian citizenship:
- Single, healthy children, age 5+
- Sibling groups of any number and of all ages
- Special needs children of all ages
In addition to the U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Brazil also has the following eligibility requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
- Residency Requirements: Brazilian law requires prospective parents to live in Brazil with the child for a cohabitation period of at least 15 days for children under two years of age and at least 30 days for children two and over.
- Age Requirements: Persons over the age of 21 may adopt, regardless of marital status. The adopting party must be at least 16 years older than the potential adoptee.
- Marriage Requirements: There are no marriage requirements for adoption in Brazil.
WHO CAN BE ADOPTED
Because Brazil is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Brazil must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Brazil attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Brazil’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.
Learn more about the Convention’s requirements for adoptable children.
HOW TO ADOPT
Brazil’s Central Authority
The State Judiciary Commission of Adoption (CEJA)
Because Brazil is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Brazil must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order to meet all necessary legal requirements for adoption.
Note: If you filed your I-600a with Brazil before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption; it could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for orphan adoptions. Learn more.
1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
3. Be Matched with a Child
4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
5. Adopt the Child in Brazil
6. Bring your Child Home
1.Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
The first step in adopting a child from Brazil is to select an accredited or approved adoption service provider in the United States. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Brazil. Learn more.
Each Brazilian state maintains a CEJA (State Judiciary Commission of Adoption) that acts as the Central Authority and is the sole organization authorized to approve foreign adopting parents. Some CEJAs are less apt to work with American petitioners; however, the CEJAs of Alagoas, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catarina, and São Paulo are known to work with American citizens.
2.Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to adopt a child from a Convention Country) by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
Once the U.S. Government determines that you are “eligible” and “suitable” to adopt, you or your adoption service provider will forward your information to the Central Authority in Brazil. The CEJA will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Brazilian law. A lawyer is not required for this service. If prospective adoptive parents are approved by CEJA, it will provide the parent(s) with a “Habilitation Approval Certificate.”
3. Be Matched with a Child
If both the United States and Brazil determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the CEJA may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
Eventually identify the child(ren) eligible for adoption from a database of prospective adoptees and notify the prospective adoptive parent(s) of the match.
4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the USCIS for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800, Petition to Classify a Convention adoptee as an Immediate Relative). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. immigration law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.
After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application for to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child’s information and evaluate the child for possible visa inelegibilities. If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he or she will notify the CEJA (Article 5 letter). For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place. Learn more.
Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
5. Adopt the Child in Brazil
Remember: Before you adopt a child in Brazil, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Brazil.
The process for finalizing the adoption in Brazil generally includes the following:
- Role of The Central Authority: The State Judiciary Commission of Adoption (CEJA) is the division of government responsible for intercountry adoption in Brazil. Each Brazilian state maintains a CEJA that acts as the Central Authority and is the sole organization authorized to approve foreign adoption parents.
- Role of The Court: In October 1990, Brazil promulgated a new Federal Statute for the protection of children and adolescents. In accordance with this law, priority in adoptions is given to Brazilian citizens. Other major terms of the law include:
- Adoption by proxy is prohibited
- A child will only be allowed to depart Brazilian territory when the adoption has been finalized
- Role of Adoption Agencies: Prospective adoptive parents are required to use the services of an accredited or approved adoption service provider in the United States, and are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services in Brazil. Because Brazil is a Convention country, adoption services must be provided by an approved service provider.
- Time Frame: The average time to complete an intercountry adoption in Brazil varies from three months to one year.
- Adoption Application: To begin the adoption process, prospective adoptive parents must apply for permission to adopt from the CEJA. CEJA will process the application; a lawyer is not required for this service. CEJA provides the prospective adoptive parents with a “Habilitation Approval Certificate” and eventually identifies the child(ren) eligible for adoption from a database of prospective children.
The U.S. Consulate in Rio de Janeiro provides a letter addressed to the CEJA stating that the United States will comply with the Hague Adoption Convention (i.e. that the adopted child will be a United States citizen and have all rights as any United States citizen). This letter is provided only after the USCIS has approved the I-800A application and a copy of the approval is received by the United States Consulate in Rio de Janeiro.
Once the adoptive parents satisfy Brazilian adoption requirements, a judge may grant a final adoption. The Brazilian government will then allow the child to leave Brazil.
- Adoption Fees: There are no government fees to open a dossier with the CEJA. Unfortunately it is difficult to determine an average cost for attorneys in Brazil since prices vary from state to state, and on the qualifications of the attorney.
The U.S. Embassy in Brazil discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted. “Donations,” or “expediting” fees, which may be requested from prospective adoptive parents, have the appearance of “buying” a baby and put all future adoptions in Brazil at risk. Any expected expenses should have been itemized in the fees and estimated expenses section of your adoption services contract.
- Documents Required: According to CEJA statutes, petitioners must provide at a minimum the following:
- A home study including a psychological evaluation and medical report(s) of prospective adoptive parent(s) stating they are in good health and capable to adopt;
- Certificate of Residence - proof of home ownership or an affidavit from landlord regarding the apartment lease;
- Photos of the prospective adoptive parent’s(s’) residence (inside and outside);
- Pictures of prospective adoptive family and grandparents, if possible;
- Notice of Approval of I-800A petition;
- Copy of Petitioner’s U.S. passport(s), photo and signature page;
- Police records, requested within one year;
- Last filed Federal Income Tax return;
- Marriage certificate (if applicable);
- Birth certificate(s) of prospective adoptive parent(s);
- Divorce Decree (if applicable);
- Copy of applicant’s current state of residence law on adoptions, including statement that the law is still in effect (generally obtained at a state Court House, from a Senator’s office, or lawyer);
- Handwritten signed statement from prospective adoptive parent(s) saying they are aware that adoption in Brazil is free and irrevocable; and
- Statement that prospective adoptive parent(s) is(are) aware that they must not establish any contact in Brazil with prospective child’s birth parent(s) or guardian (if applicable) before the authorization from CEJA is issued.
Note: All documents must be translated into Portuguese and authenticated by the Brazilian Embassy and/or Consulate in the United States. Additional documents may be requested.
6. Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete, there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate. Adoptive parents can change the child’s name and request a new birth certificate, listing their names as parents, at the Brazilian Civil Registry Office.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Brazil. After you obtain a new birth certificate for the child, you will need to apply for a passport for the child at the Brazilian passport office.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the U.S. Consulate in Rio de Janeiro for your child. After the adoption is granted, visit the consulate for final review and approval of the child’s I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Learn more.
The U.S. Consulate in Rio de Janeiro is the only consulate in Brazil that issues immigrant visas, including adoption visas. Adoptive parents should contact the Immigrant Visa unit to verify if their I-800 approval has arrived and to schedule their child’s immigrant visa interview. Pre-scheduled appointments are required. Adoptive parents are asked to be at the consulate by 8:00 am. Since wait times vary greatly, adoptive parents should be prepared to spend the entire day at the consulate.
Adoptive parents are required to bring the following documentation to the consulate on the day of the visa interview:
- Form I-800, Petition to Classify a Convention adoptee as an Immediate Relative;
- Form DS-230, Parts I and II;
- Copies of adoptive parent’s(s’) passport(s); if one parents is not going to be present on the day of the interview, a notarized copy of their passport data page is required;
- Child’s Brazilian passport;
- Original and certified copy of child’s birth certificate (before the adoption), with official translation, if applicable;
- Original and certified copy of Adoption Decree, with official translation, if applicable;
- Medical report on the child, completed by Panel Physician; please consult the consulate’s website for a complete list of the Immigrant Visa Unit’s Panel Physician List at www.consuladodoseua-rio.org.br;
- Form I-134, Affidavit of Support;
- Proof of income (most recent Federal Income Tax Return);
- Three (3) frontal face pictures of the child;
- Immigrant Visa Application fee in either Brazilian currency or U.S. Dollars. Cash or international credit cards are acceptable, payable at the U.S. Consulate.
Note: Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes at least 24 hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times at the appropriate consulate before making final travel arrangements.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Brazil. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for Brazil, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there’s a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Brazil, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
What does Brazil require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
According to Brazilian law, there are no post-adoption requirements of adoptive parents.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it’s another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some good places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.