Colombia operates under the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption.
Hague Convention information
The central authority in Colombia is the Instituto Colombiano Bienestar Familiar (ICBF). The Hague Convention requires Colombia to attempt to place a child with a family in Colombia before determining a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition, in October 2012, ICBF announced revised procedures for determining a child’s eligibility for intercountry adoption. The new procedures, called ‘re-establishment of rights’, are designed to ensure that ICBF has fully considered the opportunities for placement with biological and extended families, before placing a child for domestic or intercountry adoption.
The current waiting time for Colombia is difficult to estimate and you should be prepared for the possibility of a long wait. There are a large number of applications in Colombia and only a limited number of children in need of intercountry adoption. This is particularly the case for children under the age of six years. For this reason, Colombia will only accept new applications for children under the age of six years where one of the applicants is of Colombian descent.
Who can adopt?
To adopt from Colombia you must first be found eligible to adopt according to your state or territory’s eligibility requirements for intercountry adoption.
ICBF eligibility criteria (all states and territories)
- Couples who are legally married are eligible to adopt.
- De facto couples (including same-sex) who have been living together for two years are eligible to adopt.
- A single applicant (male or female) may be eligible to adopt an older child.
- Applicants must be more than 25 years of age and at least 15 years older than the child being adopted. ICBF prefers to place younger children with younger parents and older children with older parents. Colombia’s preferred age ranges for children and parents are set out below
|Applicants||Single child||Sibling group|
|25 to 45 years||0 to 4 years (59 months)||Oldest sibling 0 to 6 years and 11 months|
|46 to 50 years||5 to 10 years (60 months to 9 years and 11 months)||Oldest sibling 7 to 9 years and 11 months|
- If the applicants are in different age categories at least one of them has to be no more than 45 years older than the child. The same principle (maximum 45 year age gap) applies in cases where both applicants are older than 50.
- For couples applying for sibling groups, the 45 year age gap is calculated for the ages of the oldest applicant and the youngest child. The age difference is established at time the accepted file is approved by Colombia. Younger applicants may request to be approved for an older child.
- If adopting a sibling group of two children, the age limits are increased by two years.
- There are no maximum age limits to adopt:
- a child with special needs (physical or mental)
- a sibling group of three
- a sibling group of two with one child aged over eight
- a healthy child aged over eight
- a child with a chronic disease (eg HIV, heart condition, liver condition).
- At least one applicant must be an Australian citizen.
- Applicants must be in good health, both physically and mentally.
- If either applicant has a serious disability, a severe health issue or a short life expectancy that may affect a parent-child relationship, they will not be considered eligible to adopt.
- Applicants must undergo psychological evaluation to ensure mental capacity to adopt.
- Applicants with alcohol or drug dependencies will not be considered.
- No requirement.
Families with at least basic Spanish language skills have higher priority for matching with children in need of adoption.
- No requirement.
Number of children in family
- No set limit on the number of biological children in the family. Applicants will be assessed on a case by case basis.
- Applicants must be in a position to ensure all the material, educational, recreational and health needs of the child or children to be adopted are met.
- Criminal record check must be provided.
- Applicants convicted of any offences below are not eligible to adopt:
- crimes against freedom
- integrity or sexual crimes
- crimes relating to prostitution or child pornography, child neglect, domestic violence
- any previous criminal history which may pose a threat to an adopted child.
Characteristics of children in need of adoption
In general, both male and female children from infants to adolescents are in need of intercountry adoption. Children over the age of seven, children with special needs, and sibling groups are in particular need of intercountry adoption. ICBF defines ‘special needs’ as:
- sibling group of three or more
- sibling group of two, where the oldest sibling is more than eight years old
- children over eight years of age without disability or illness
- children with mental or physical disabilities of any age
- children with a permanent disease (such as HIV, cardiac or renal disease).
Most of these children are living in institutions and may have experienced social, emotional and psychological deprivation.
In June 2013, ICBF announced a two-year hold on accepting new intercountry adoption applications for Colombian children aged 0–6 years (including sibling groups of two), with effect from 15 July 2013. The hold was introduced to allow ICBF to manage the large number of domestic and intercountry applications on its waiting list, and to encourage applications for children with special needs, large sibling groups and children aged seven years and above. Applications for children between 0 and 6 years old lodged with ICBF prior to 15 July 2013 will continue to be processed as usual. ICBF announced it would extend the hold for two years in July 2015 and in February 2017, announced a further two year extension of the hold until July 2019. The hold does not apply to:
- children with special needs
- children aged over six years of age
- sibling groups of three or more children
- sibling groups of two, where the oldest sibling is more than six years old
- Colombian families resident overseas, or
- families who have already adopted from Colombia and wish to adopt a biological sibling of their adopted child.
For more information on the hold, contact Intercountry Adoption Australia on 1800 197 760 or the central authority in your state or territory.
ICBF does not charge processing or administrative fees and orphanage donations are prohibited. However, families will incur other expenses, such as:
- translation fees
- travel and accommodation costs
- immigration fees
- Australian government fees
Both members of the couple must travel to Colombia to accept placement of their child. Children from the family are also welcome and encouraged to accompany their parents. Families must travel to Colombia together and must arrive in time to meet the child on the date specified by ICBF. Families can expect to travel within weeks of acceptance. Families should plan to stay between six to eight weeks in Colombia to make sure there is enough time to complete the Colombian adoption and immigration formalities.
Finalisation and post-adoption
Adoptions are completed and finalised in Colombia and are automatically recognised on entry to Australia. ICBF requires four post-placement reports following the adoption. The first report must be sent three months after the adoption has been finalised. The remaining reports must be sent at six-monthly intervals. Applicants must fulfil any post-placement reporting requirements in their state or territory. The Australian Government is working to improve post-adoption support for newly formed families. For more information, please see Post adoption and support.
Immigration and citizenship
Children are eligible to apply for Australian citizenship, in Colombia, after the Adoption Compliance Certificate has been issued by ICBF. Applications for citizenship take about 10 days to process. Your child or children will then be eligible to apply for an Australian passport for travel to Australia with your family. Alternatively, your child or children may travel to Australia on an Adoption Visa (subclass 102). You should apply for ‘citizenship by conferral’ for your child on entry to Australia.
For more information about Colombia, including the land, people, history, government, political conditions, economy, and foreign relations, please visit the Department of Foreign Affairs ‘Colombia’ page.