International Adoption

The Dominican Constitution, amended January 26, 2010, guarantees safe and effective adoption policies under the law (Article 55). Law No. 136-03, enacted August 2003 and amended October 2004 governs international adoption in the Dominican Republic. No adoptable child may leave the country until the adoption process is completed as stipulated by Dominican law and an authenticated copy of the adoption judgment is presented to emigration authorities.

In addition, the immigration laws of the prospective foreign parents’ country of residence are applicable, and a couple seeking to adopt a Dominican child must carefully investigate the legal requirements for bringing the child into their country of residence before proceeding with adoption in the Dominican Republic.

The time required to complete an adoption in the Dominican Republic will vary depending on the time needed to obtain the necessary supporting documents for the authorities. However, in general, the process should take less than one year from the time a child has been assigned to the adopting parents.

PARENT ELIGIBILITY

For international adoptions, only heterosexual couples married for a minimum of five years are eligible to adopt a Dominican child. Each parent must be at least thirty years old and no more than sixty, and at least fifteen years older than the child they wish to adopt. Singles are not allowed to adopt.

THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY

Privately arranged adoptions are not legal in the Dominican Republic. All adoption requests must be made to The National Council for Children and Adolescents (Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia or CONANI), the government agency with the authority to refer a child and evaluate the suitability of a prospective couple.

Prospective parents must hire a Dominican attorney with experience in international adoptions to navigate the adoption process, which is both administrative and judicial, beginning with the submission of an application to CONANI.

THE APPLICATION

The following documents must be obtained and authenticated by a Dominican Consulate in the prospective parents’ country of residence, or by an apostille, if the country of residence is a member of the Hague Convention1. If the documents are not in Spanish, they must also be translated and authenticated as separate documents by the same process as the originals. The authentication procedure is specific to the couple’s country of residence and must be followed according to that country’s laws.

  • Power-of-Attorney to the Dominican attorney(s) handling the adoption.
  • Certified copies of the birth certificates of the prospective parents.
  • Certified copy of the marriage certificate of the prospective parents.
  • Copies of the prospective parents’ passports.
  • Biopsychosocial study of the prospective parents.
  • Certification of a clean police record for each prospective parent from the appropriate authority in their country of residence.
  • Affidavit attesting to the prospective parents’ good morals and civic behavior from a religious or community organization in their country of residence.
  • Affidavit guaranteeing that the prospective parents will monitor the child until the child is naturalized in the country where they reside.
  • Certificates of the prospective parents’ good health from a doctor in their country of residence.
  • Evidence of the prospective parents’ financial solvency (bank statements, salary verification, etc.).
  • Authorization or visa for the adopted child’s entrance into the prospective parents’ country of residence.
  • Written or documented verbal opinion about the adoption from the prospective couple’s children over the age of twelve.

After CONANI receives the prospective parents’ application, it will evaluate the applicants’ fitness as parents. If found suitable, the prospective parents proceed to a judicial hearing before a court of competent jurisdiction which will either order or reject the request for adoption. If adoption is awarded, a new birth certificate for the adopted child is issued, and the adoption is complete under Dominican law.

THE SUITABILITY EVALUATION

When an application is filed with CONANI, a Commission comprising the head of the Adoptions Department of CONANI, a CONANI psychologist, the head of the Center for Adoptable Children, and two non governmental psychologists specializing in family or children’s rights, determines whether the applicants are fit to be adoptive parents, and at least two-thirds of the Commission must certify that certain prescribed criteria have been met before referring a child.

The Commission’s main criterion for placement is the best interest of the child. Although the Commission will assign a child as soon as one is available, preference must first be given to Dominican citizens, then to couples from countries that have ratified or adhered to the adoption policies established under The Hague Convention, an international treaty comprising voluntary member states. [link] It must also refer a child to an approved couple in the order that applications are submitted.

If the approved couple accepts the child referred, both prospective parents must come to the Dominican Republic for a trial cohabitation period with the child. The trial period is sixty (60) days for a child under the age of twelve and thirty (30) days for a child over the age of twelve. Within two months from the successful completion of this trial period, CONANI must issue a certificate of suitability, effective for six months, permitting the prospective couple to petition the court for judicial review and a final order of adoption.

JUDICIAL REVIEW

The Court of Children and Adolescents located where the child’s legal guardian resides has jurisdiction to review the petition for adoption. The Dominican attorney will file the petition and documents evidencing suitability with the appropriate court. At least one adoptive parent must be present in court; the absent parent may execute a Power of Attorney granting the appearing parent to represent him or her.

In addition to the documents submitted in the adoption application, the following documents must also be submitted to the court:

  • Power of Attorney.
  • Consent by the biological parents or legal guardian to the adoption, properly legalized.
  • Birth certificate of the adoptive child.
  • Consent by the adoptive child to the adoption, if twelve years old or older.
  • Certificate of CONANI’s compliance with the placement criteria.
  • Certification by CONANI that the trial period of cohabitation was completed.
  • Certificate of Suitability, issued by CONANI.

The judge will review the petition and render an opinion within eighteen days from filing. If there are any defects in the documents submitted, the petitioner has ten days to correct them before the judge renders a final judgment.

If a final order of adoption is granted, the court will notify any living biological parents of the judgment and the Civil Registry Division of Junta Central Electoral (JCE), which will authorize the issuance of a new birth certificate. The decision must also be authenticated with the Dominican Republic’s Attorney General’s Office and Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Consulate of the adoptive parent’s country of residence located in the Dominican Republic. Authenticated copies of the final order are required for the new parents to leave the country with the child.

THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE

The Civil Registry Division of Junta Central Electoral (JCE) must authorize the civil registry office that issued the adopted child’s original birth certificate to issue a new birth certificate. The child’s original birth certificate will be annulled and the new certificate will list the adopted child’s birth information, excluding reference to the biological parents, new name, and the adoptive parents’ full names, dates and places of birth, occupations, and place of residence.

The judicial process and issuance of a new birth certificate can take two to three months to complete. Once adoption is granted, it is irrevocable, and an adopted child is deemed to have the same rights and obligations as a biological child in the adoptive family.

ADOPTION RECORDS

The adoption file is kept for a period of thirty (30) years with the Court of Children and Adolescents that awarded the adoption. Copies of the file can be requested only by the adoptive parents, the adopted child upon reaching the age of eighteen, or the district attorney for CONANI. Although Dominican law recognizes the right of any child to know his or her origins, it is the adoptive parents’ sole decision when to tell the adopted child about his or her place of birth and biological parents.

GUZMAN ARIZA ON INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

Guzman Ariza is the leading law firm for international adoptions in the Dominican Republic, representing adoption agencies in the United States, Canada, and the European Union. We assist foreign adoption agencies and adoptive couples in submitting a properly completed application for adoption, appear with the adoptive parents in court, and ensure that the new family has all of the documents necessary to leave the country and transition to a new life.

1 However, some signatories of the Hague Convention (Austria, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands) have raised objections to the accession of the Dominican Republic. Documents from these jurisdictions, therefore, must still be authenticated through the Dominican Consulate.International Adoption

Guzmán Ariza es la firma líder en República Dominicana en adopciones internacionales, como consecuencia de su representación de grandes agencias de adopción de los Estados Unidos, Canada y la Unión Europea.

Las adopciones internacionales en República Dominicana se encuentran regidas por la Ley #136-03 de 2003. El Departamento de Adopciones del Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia (CONANI) es el organismo encargado de todo el procedimiento administrativo. Solamente se acepta la adopción privilegiada, o sea, aquélla en que el adoptado deja de pertenecer a su familia de sangre y se extingue el parentesco con los integrantes de ésta, así como todos sus efectos jurídicos, con la excepción de los impedimentos matrimoniales. El adoptado tiene en al familia adoptante los mismos derechos y obligaciones del hijo biológico. La adopción privilegiada es irrevocable.

Para más detalles sobre la adopción internacional y sus requisitos, favor de consultarnuestro sumario.International Adoption

The Dominican Constitution, amended January 26, 2010, guarantees safe and effective adoption policies under the law (Article 55). Law No. 136-03, enacted August 2003 and amended October 2004 governs international adoption in the Dominican Republic. No adoptable child may leave the country until the adoption process is completed as stipulated by Dominican law and an authenticated copy of the adoption judgment is presented to emigration authorities.

In addition, the immigration laws of the prospective foreign parents’ country of residence are applicable, and a couple seeking to adopt a Dominican child must carefully investigate the legal requirements for bringing the child into their country of residence before proceeding with adoption in the Dominican Republic.

The time required to complete an adoption in the Dominican Republic will vary depending on the time needed to obtain the necessary supporting documents for the authorities. However, in general, the process should take less than one year from the time a child has been assigned to the adopting parents.

PARENT ELIGIBILITY

For international adoptions, only heterosexual couples married for a minimum of five years are eligible to adopt a Dominican child. Each parent must be at least thirty years old and no more than sixty, and at least fifteen years older than the child they wish to adopt. Singles are not allowed to adopt.

THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY

Privately arranged adoptions are not legal in the Dominican Republic. All adoption requests must be made to The National Council for Children and Adolescents (Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia or CONANI), the government agency with the authority to refer a child and evaluate the suitability of a prospective couple.

Prospective parents must hire a Dominican attorney with experience in international adoptions to navigate the adoption process, which is both administrative and judicial, beginning with the submission of an application to CONANI.

THE APPLICATION

The following documents must be obtained and authenticated by a Dominican Consulate in the prospective parents’ country of residence, or by an apostille, if the country of residence is a member of the Hague Convention1. If the documents are not in Spanish, they must also be translated and authenticated as separate documents by the same process as the originals. The authentication procedure is specific to the couple’s country of residence and must be followed according to that country’s laws.

  • Power-of-Attorney to the Dominican attorney(s) handling the adoption.
  • Certified copies of the birth certificates of the prospective parents.
  • Certified copy of the marriage certificate of the prospective parents.
  • Copies of the prospective parents’ passports.
  • Biopsychosocial study of the prospective parents.
  • Certification of a clean police record for each prospective parent from the appropriate authority in their country of residence.
  • Affidavit attesting to the prospective parents’ good morals and civic behavior from a religious or community organization in their country of residence.
  • Affidavit guaranteeing that the prospective parents will monitor the child until the child is naturalized in the country where they reside.
  • Certificates of the prospective parents’ good health from a doctor in their country of residence.
  • Evidence of the prospective parents’ financial solvency (bank statements, salary verification, etc.).
  • Authorization or visa for the adopted child’s entrance into the prospective parents’ country of residence.
  • Written or documented verbal opinion about the adoption from the prospective couple’s children over the age of twelve.

After CONANI receives the prospective parents’ application, it will evaluate the applicants’ fitness as parents. If found suitable, the prospective parents proceed to a judicial hearing before a court of competent jurisdiction which will either order or reject the request for adoption. If adoption is awarded, a new birth certificate for the adopted child is issued, and the adoption is complete under Dominican law.

THE SUITABILITY EVALUATION

When an application is filed with CONANI, a Commission comprising the head of the Adoptions Department of CONANI, a CONANI psychologist, the head of the Center for Adoptable Children, and two non governmental psychologists specializing in family or children’s rights, determines whether the applicants are fit to be adoptive parents, and at least two-thirds of the Commission must certify that certain prescribed criteria have been met before referring a child.

The Commission’s main criterion for placement is the best interest of the child. Although the Commission will assign a child as soon as one is available, preference must first be given to Dominican citizens, then to couples from countries that have ratified or adhered to the adoption policies established under The Hague Convention, an international treaty comprising voluntary member states. [link] It must also refer a child to an approved couple in the order that applications are submitted.

If the approved couple accepts the child referred, both prospective parents must come to the Dominican Republic for a trial cohabitation period with the child. The trial period is sixty (60) days for a child under the age of twelve and thirty (30) days for a child over the age of twelve. Within two months from the successful completion of this trial period, CONANI must issue a certificate of suitability, effective for six months, permitting the prospective couple to petition the court for judicial review and a final order of adoption.

JUDICIAL REVIEW

The Court of Children and Adolescents located where the child’s legal guardian resides has jurisdiction to review the petition for adoption. The Dominican attorney will file the petition and documents evidencing suitability with the appropriate court. At least one adoptive parent must be present in court; the absent parent may execute a Power of Attorney granting the appearing parent to represent him or her.

In addition to the documents submitted in the adoption application, the following documents must also be submitted to the court:

  • Power of Attorney.
  • Consent by the biological parents or legal guardian to the adoption, properly legalized.
  • Birth certificate of the adoptive child.
  • Consent by the adoptive child to the adoption, if twelve years old or older.
  • Certificate of CONANI’s compliance with the placement criteria.
  • Certification by CONANI that the trial period of cohabitation was completed.
  • Certificate of Suitability, issued by CONANI.

The judge will review the petition and render an opinion within eighteen days from filing. If there are any defects in the documents submitted, the petitioner has ten days to correct them before the judge renders a final judgment.

If a final order of adoption is granted, the court will notify any living biological parents of the judgment and the Civil Registry Division of Junta Central Electoral (JCE), which will authorize the issuance of a new birth certificate. The decision must also be authenticated with the Dominican Republic’s Attorney General’s Office and Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Consulate of the adoptive parent’s country of residence located in the Dominican Republic. Authenticated copies of the final order are required for the new parents to leave the country with the child.

THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE

The Civil Registry Division of Junta Central Electoral (JCE) must authorize the civil registry office that issued the adopted child’s original birth certificate to issue a new birth certificate. The child’s original birth certificate will be annulled and the new certificate will list the adopted child’s birth information, excluding reference to the biological parents, new name, and the adoptive parents’ full names, dates and places of birth, occupations, and place of residence.

The judicial process and issuance of a new birth certificate can take two to three months to complete. Once adoption is granted, it is irrevocable, and an adopted child is deemed to have the same rights and obligations as a biological child in the adoptive family.

ADOPTION RECORDS

The adoption file is kept for a period of thirty (30) years with the Court of Children and Adolescents that awarded the adoption. Copies of the file can be requested only by the adoptive parents, the adopted child upon reaching the age of eighteen, or the district attorney for CONANI. Although Dominican law recognizes the right of any child to know his or her origins, it is the adoptive parents’ sole decision when to tell the adopted child about his or her place of birth and biological parents.

GUZMAN ARIZA ON INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

Guzman Ariza is the leading law firm for international adoptions in the Dominican Republic, representing adoption agencies in the United States, Canada, and the European Union. We assist foreign adoption agencies and adoptive couples in submitting a properly completed application for adoption, appear with the adoptive parents in court, and ensure that the new family has all of the documents necessary to leave the country and transition to a new life.

1 However, some signatories of the Hague Convention (Austria, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands) have raised objections to the accession of the Dominican Republic. Documents from these jurisdictions, therefore, must still be authenticated through the Dominican Consulate.International Adoption

The Dominican Constitution, amended January 26, 2010, guarantees safe and effective adoption policies under the law (Article 55). Law No. 136-03, enacted August 2003 and amended October 2004 governs international adoption in the Dominican Republic. No adoptable child may leave the country until the adoption process is completed as stipulated by Dominican law and an authenticated copy of the adoption judgment is presented to emigration authorities.

In addition, the immigration laws of the prospective foreign parents’ country of residence are applicable, and a couple seeking to adopt a Dominican child must carefully investigate the legal requirements for bringing the child into their country of residence before proceeding with adoption in the Dominican Republic.

The time required to complete an adoption in the Dominican Republic will vary depending on the time needed to obtain the necessary supporting documents for the authorities. However, in general, the process should take less than one year from the time a child has been assigned to the adopting parents.

PARENT ELIGIBILITY

For international adoptions, only heterosexual couples married for a minimum of five years are eligible to adopt a Dominican child. Each parent must be at least thirty years old and no more than sixty, and at least fifteen years older than the child they wish to adopt. Singles are not allowed to adopt.

THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY

Privately arranged adoptions are not legal in the Dominican Republic. All adoption requests must be made to The National Council for Children and Adolescents (Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia or CONANI), the government agency with the authority to refer a child and evaluate the suitability of a prospective couple.

Prospective parents must hire a Dominican attorney with experience in international adoptions to navigate the adoption process, which is both administrative and judicial, beginning with the submission of an application to CONANI.

THE APPLICATION

The following documents must be obtained and authenticated by a Dominican Consulate in the prospective parents’ country of residence, or by an apostille, if the country of residence is a member of the Hague Convention1. If the documents are not in Spanish, they must also be translated and authenticated as separate documents by the same process as the originals. The authentication procedure is specific to the couple’s country of residence and must be followed according to that country’s laws.

  • Power-of-Attorney to the Dominican attorney(s) handling the adoption.
  • Certified copies of the birth certificates of the prospective parents.
  • Certified copy of the marriage certificate of the prospective parents.
  • Copies of the prospective parents’ passports.
  • Biopsychosocial study of the prospective parents.
  • Certification of a clean police record for each prospective parent from the appropriate authority in their country of residence.
  • Affidavit attesting to the prospective parents’ good morals and civic behavior from a religious or community organization in their country of residence.
  • Affidavit guaranteeing that the prospective parents will monitor the child until the child is naturalized in the country where they reside.
  • Certificates of the prospective parents’ good health from a doctor in their country of residence.
  • Evidence of the prospective parents’ financial solvency (bank statements, salary verification, etc.).
  • Authorization or visa for the adopted child’s entrance into the prospective parents’ country of residence.
  • Written or documented verbal opinion about the adoption from the prospective couple’s children over the age of twelve.

After CONANI receives the prospective parents’ application, it will evaluate the applicants’ fitness as parents. If found suitable, the prospective parents proceed to a judicial hearing before a court of competent jurisdiction which will either order or reject the request for adoption. If adoption is awarded, a new birth certificate for the adopted child is issued, and the adoption is complete under Dominican law.

THE SUITABILITY EVALUATION

When an application is filed with CONANI, a Commission comprising the head of the Adoptions Department of CONANI, a CONANI psychologist, the head of the Center for Adoptable Children, and two non governmental psychologists specializing in family or children’s rights, determines whether the applicants are fit to be adoptive parents, and at least two-thirds of the Commission must certify that certain prescribed criteria have been met before referring a child.

The Commission’s main criterion for placement is the best interest of the child. Although the Commission will assign a child as soon as one is available, preference must first be given to Dominican citizens, then to couples from countries that have ratified or adhered to the adoption policies established under The Hague Convention, an international treaty comprising voluntary member states. [link] It must also refer a child to an approved couple in the order that applications are submitted.

If the approved couple accepts the child referred, both prospective parents must come to the Dominican Republic for a trial cohabitation period with the child. The trial period is sixty (60) days for a child under the age of twelve and thirty (30) days for a child over the age of twelve. Within two months from the successful completion of this trial period, CONANI must issue a certificate of suitability, effective for six months, permitting the prospective couple to petition the court for judicial review and a final order of adoption.

JUDICIAL REVIEW

The Court of Children and Adolescents located where the child’s legal guardian resides has jurisdiction to review the petition for adoption. The Dominican attorney will file the petition and documents evidencing suitability with the appropriate court. At least one adoptive parent must be present in court; the absent parent may execute a Power of Attorney granting the appearing parent to represent him or her.

In addition to the documents submitted in the adoption application, the following documents must also be submitted to the court:

  • Power of Attorney.
  • Consent by the biological parents or legal guardian to the adoption, properly legalized.
  • Birth certificate of the adoptive child.
  • Consent by the adoptive child to the adoption, if twelve years old or older.
  • Certificate of CONANI’s compliance with the placement criteria.
  • Certification by CONANI that the trial period of cohabitation was completed.
  • Certificate of Suitability, issued by CONANI.

The judge will review the petition and render an opinion within eighteen days from filing. If there are any defects in the documents submitted, the petitioner has ten days to correct them before the judge renders a final judgment.

If a final order of adoption is granted, the court will notify any living biological parents of the judgment and the Civil Registry Division of Junta Central Electoral (JCE), which will authorize the issuance of a new birth certificate. The decision must also be authenticated with the Dominican Republic’s Attorney General’s Office and Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Consulate of the adoptive parent’s country of residence located in the Dominican Republic. Authenticated copies of the final order are required for the new parents to leave the country with the child.

THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE

The Civil Registry Division of Junta Central Electoral (JCE) must authorize the civil registry office that issued the adopted child’s original birth certificate to issue a new birth certificate. The child’s original birth certificate will be annulled and the new certificate will list the adopted child’s birth information, excluding reference to the biological parents, new name, and the adoptive parents’ full names, dates and places of birth, occupations, and place of residence.

The judicial process and issuance of a new birth certificate can take two to three months to complete. Once adoption is granted, it is irrevocable, and an adopted child is deemed to have the same rights and obligations as a biological child in the adoptive family.

ADOPTION RECORDS

The adoption file is kept for a period of thirty (30) years with the Court of Children and Adolescents that awarded the adoption. Copies of the file can be requested only by the adoptive parents, the adopted child upon reaching the age of eighteen, or the district attorney for CONANI. Although Dominican law recognizes the right of any child to know his or her origins, it is the adoptive parents’ sole decision when to tell the adopted child about his or her place of birth and biological parents.

GUZMAN ARIZA ON INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

Guzman Ariza is the leading law firm for international adoptions in the Dominican Republic, representing adoption agencies in the United States, Canada, and the European Union. We assist foreign adoption agencies and adoptive couples in submitting a properly completed application for adoption, appear with the adoptive parents in court, and ensure that the new family has all of the documents necessary to leave the country and transition to a new life.

1 However, some signatories of the Hague Convention (Austria, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands) have raised objections to the accession of the Dominican Republic. Documents from these jurisdictions, therefore, must still be authenticated through the Dominican Consulate.International Adoption

The Dominican Constitution, amended January 26, 2010, guarantees safe and effective adoption policies under the law (Article 55). Law No. 136-03, enacted August 2003 and amended October 2004 governs international adoption in the Dominican Republic. No adoptable child may leave the country until the adoption process is completed as stipulated by Dominican law and an authenticated copy of the adoption judgment is presented to emigration authorities.

In addition, the immigration laws of the prospective foreign parents’ country of residence are applicable, and a couple seeking to adopt a Dominican child must carefully investigate the legal requirements for bringing the child into their country of residence before proceeding with adoption in the Dominican Republic.

The time required to complete an adoption in the Dominican Republic will vary depending on the time needed to obtain the necessary supporting documents for the authorities. However, in general, the process should take less than one year from the time a child has been assigned to the adopting parents.

PARENT ELIGIBILITY

For international adoptions, only heterosexual couples married for a minimum of five years are eligible to adopt a Dominican child. Each parent must be at least thirty years old and no more than sixty, and at least fifteen years older than the child they wish to adopt. Singles are not allowed to adopt.

THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY

Privately arranged adoptions are not legal in the Dominican Republic. All adoption requests must be made to The National Council for Children and Adolescents (Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia or CONANI), the government agency with the authority to refer a child and evaluate the suitability of a prospective couple.

Prospective parents must hire a Dominican attorney with experience in international adoptions to navigate the adoption process, which is both administrative and judicial, beginning with the submission of an application to CONANI.

THE APPLICATION

The following documents must be obtained and authenticated by a Dominican Consulate in the prospective parents’ country of residence, or by an apostille, if the country of residence is a member of the Hague Convention1. If the documents are not in Spanish, they must also be translated and authenticated as separate documents by the same process as the originals. The authentication procedure is specific to the couple’s country of residence and must be followed according to that country’s laws.

  • Power-of-Attorney to the Dominican attorney(s) handling the adoption.
  • Certified copies of the birth certificates of the prospective parents.
  • Certified copy of the marriage certificate of the prospective parents.
  • Copies of the prospective parents’ passports.
  • Biopsychosocial study of the prospective parents.
  • Certification of a clean police record for each prospective parent from the appropriate authority in their country of residence.
  • Affidavit attesting to the prospective parents’ good morals and civic behavior from a religious or community organization in their country of residence.
  • Affidavit guaranteeing that the prospective parents will monitor the child until the child is naturalized in the country where they reside.
  • Certificates of the prospective parents’ good health from a doctor in their country of residence.
  • Evidence of the prospective parents’ financial solvency (bank statements, salary verification, etc.).
  • Authorization or visa for the adopted child’s entrance into the prospective parents’ country of residence.
  • Written or documented verbal opinion about the adoption from the prospective couple’s children over the age of twelve.

After CONANI receives the prospective parents’ application, it will evaluate the applicants’ fitness as parents. If found suitable, the prospective parents proceed to a judicial hearing before a court of competent jurisdiction which will either order or reject the request for adoption. If adoption is awarded, a new birth certificate for the adopted child is issued, and the adoption is complete under Dominican law.

THE SUITABILITY EVALUATION

When an application is filed with CONANI, a Commission comprising the head of the Adoptions Department of CONANI, a CONANI psychologist, the head of the Center for Adoptable Children, and two non governmental psychologists specializing in family or children’s rights, determines whether the applicants are fit to be adoptive parents, and at least two-thirds of the Commission must certify that certain prescribed criteria have been met before referring a child.

The Commission’s main criterion for placement is the best interest of the child. Although the Commission will assign a child as soon as one is available, preference must first be given to Dominican citizens, then to couples from countries that have ratified or adhered to the adoption policies established under The Hague Convention, an international treaty comprising voluntary member states. [link] It must also refer a child to an approved couple in the order that applications are submitted.

If the approved couple accepts the child referred, both prospective parents must come to the Dominican Republic for a trial cohabitation period with the child. The trial period is sixty (60) days for a child under the age of twelve and thirty (30) days for a child over the age of twelve. Within two months from the successful completion of this trial period, CONANI must issue a certificate of suitability, effective for six months, permitting the prospective couple to petition the court for judicial review and a final order of adoption.

JUDICIAL REVIEW

The Court of Children and Adolescents located where the child’s legal guardian resides has jurisdiction to review the petition for adoption. The Dominican attorney will file the petition and documents evidencing suitability with the appropriate court. At least one adoptive parent must be present in court; the absent parent may execute a Power of Attorney granting the appearing parent to represent him or her.

In addition to the documents submitted in the adoption application, the following documents must also be submitted to the court:

  • Power of Attorney.
  • Consent by the biological parents or legal guardian to the adoption, properly legalized.
  • Birth certificate of the adoptive child.
  • Consent by the adoptive child to the adoption, if twelve years old or older.
  • Certificate of CONANI’s compliance with the placement criteria.
  • Certification by CONANI that the trial period of cohabitation was completed.
  • Certificate of Suitability, issued by CONANI.

The judge will review the petition and render an opinion within eighteen days from filing. If there are any defects in the documents submitted, the petitioner has ten days to correct them before the judge renders a final judgment.

If a final order of adoption is granted, the court will notify any living biological parents of the judgment and the Civil Registry Division of Junta Central Electoral (JCE), which will authorize the issuance of a new birth certificate. The decision must also be authenticated with the Dominican Republic’s Attorney General’s Office and Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Consulate of the adoptive parent’s country of residence located in the Dominican Republic. Authenticated copies of the final order are required for the new parents to leave the country with the child.

THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE

The Civil Registry Division of Junta Central Electoral (JCE) must authorize the civil registry office that issued the adopted child’s original birth certificate to issue a new birth certificate. The child’s original birth certificate will be annulled and the new certificate will list the adopted child’s birth information, excluding reference to the biological parents, new name, and the adoptive parents’ full names, dates and places of birth, occupations, and place of residence.

The judicial process and issuance of a new birth certificate can take two to three months to complete. Once adoption is granted, it is irrevocable, and an adopted child is deemed to have the same rights and obligations as a biological child in the adoptive family.

ADOPTION RECORDS

The adoption file is kept for a period of thirty (30) years with the Court of Children and Adolescents that awarded the adoption. Copies of the file can be requested only by the adoptive parents, the adopted child upon reaching the age of eighteen, or the district attorney for CONANI. Although Dominican law recognizes the right of any child to know his or her origins, it is the adoptive parents’ sole decision when to tell the adopted child about his or her place of birth and biological parents.

GUZMAN ARIZA ON INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

Guzman Ariza is the leading law firm for international adoptions in the Dominican Republic, representing adoption agencies in the United States, Canada, and the European Union. We assist foreign adoption agencies and adoptive couples in submitting a properly completed application for adoption, appear with the adoptive parents in court, and ensure that the new family has all of the documents necessary to leave the country and transition to a new life.

1 However, some signatories of the Hague Convention (Austria, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands) have raised objections to the accession of the Dominican Republic. Documents from these jurisdictions, therefore, must still be authenticated through the Dominican Consulate.