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Belgium

Official Name: Belgium Last Updated: March 1, 2009

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Hague Adoption Convention Country? Yes

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  • Hague Convention Information

    Belgium 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 Belgium and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.

    Belgium is not considered a country of origin in intercountry adoption. While legally possible, intercountry adoption of a Belgian orphan by foreigners is unlikely. No Belgian orphans have received U.S. immigrant visas in the past five fiscal years. The information provided is intended primarily to assist in extremely rare adoption cases from Belgium, including adoptions of Belgian children by relatives in the United States, as well as adoptions from third countries by Americans living in Belgium.

  • Who Can Adopt

     

    Adoption between the United States and Belgium is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Belgium, 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.

    In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Belgium also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:

    • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adoptive parents must be resident in Belgium to adopt.
    • AGE REQUIREMENTS: Minimum age to adopt is 25, and the minimum age difference between the prospective adoptive parents and the adopted child is 15 years. For the adoption of a child of the spouse/cohabiting partner, the minimum age is 18 and the minimum age difference is 10 years.
    • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: To adopt together prospective adoptive parents must be married, be legally registered as a cohabiting couple or have lived together on an ongoing basis and having an emotional commitment for at least three years.
    • INCOME REQUIREMENTS: Income is discussed in the home study. There are no minimum requirements but the prospective adoptive parents must be able to take financial care of an adoption child .

     

  • Who Can Be Adopted

    Because Belgium is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Belgium must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Belgium attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Belgium's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.

  • How To Adopt

    Belgium's Adoption Authority(ies)

    Residents of the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium should contact:

    Kind en Gezin
    Hallepoortlaan 27
    1060 Brussels
    e-mail: adoptie@kindengezin.be
    tel.: (02) 533 14 76

    Residents of the French-speaking part of Belgium should contact:

    Autorité Communautaire pour l'Adoption Internationale (ACAI)
    Boulevard Leopold II, 44,
    1080 Brussels
    tel.: (02) 413 2726.

    Residents of the German-speaking community should contact:

    Ministerium der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft
    Zentrale Behörde der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft für Adoptionen

    Gospertstrasse 1
    B-4700 Eupen
    Fax.: +32 (87) 55 64 74
    Tel.: + 32 (87) 59 63 46

    The Process

    Because Belgium is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Belgium 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 so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.

    NOTE: If you filed your I-600a with Belgium before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention 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 Immigration to the United States
    5. Adopt the Child in Belgium
    6. Bring your Child Home
    1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:

      The first step in adopting a child from Belgium is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Belgium.

    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) by the U.S. Government, 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 agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Belgium. Belgium's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Belgium's law.

    3. Be Matched with a Child:

      If both the United States and Belgium determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Belgium 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.

    4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:

      After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. 

      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 ineligibilities. If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify the Belgium's adoption authority (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.

       

      Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

    5. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Belgium:

      Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Belgium, 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 Belgium.

      The following are the adoption procedures for American citizens living in Belgium who want to adopt a child from a third country:

      • ADOPTION APPLICATION - ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: Apply to the central authority of your community (Flemish or French speaking). After submitting your application, you will be invited to take a preparation course required for all prospective adoptive parents.
      • ROLE OF THE COURT: With the certificate of completion of the preparation course, a request is filed with the court to find you eligible to adopt. The court will order a home study. A service for the home study will invite you for four interviews. A social worker and psychologist will do the interview and make a report to advise the judge. The judge will then decide whether you are eligible to adopt. Note: The adoption of a Belgian child by citizens living in the United States (very exceptional, normally only for adoption of family-members) will be pronounced by a Belgian court.
      • ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: Prospective adoptive parents should contact the adoption authority for the region of Belgium where they reside for information on Belgian adoption agencies. The adoption agency will send the file of the applicant(s) to the country of origin and wait for them to propose a child for adoption.

        The country of origin will send the file on an adoptable child to the adoption agency. After the approval of the match by the central authority, the prospective adoptive parents will be informed and the procedure in the country of origin may continue.
      • TIME FRAME: The time it takes to complete an adoption varies, depending on the child's country of origin.
      • ADOPTION FEES: Most fees will depend on the child's country of origin. Belgian fees, not including pre-approved fees (including the home study), vary depending on which community (Flemish-speaking, French speaking) the prospective adoptive parents reside in.
      • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: Judgment of eligibility and home study are always necessary. Other documents depend on the country of origin of the child.

        NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help.

       

    6. Bring Your Child Home

      Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:

      • Birth Certificate
        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.

        For more information on this process, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Belgium.

      • Belgium Passport
        Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Belgium.

        A passport can be obtained in the community where the child is registered.

      • 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 United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy 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.

        Note: The U.S. Embassy in Belgium does not issue Immigrant Visas. All Immigrant Visa for Belgium are issued by the U.S. Consulate General in Naples, Italy.

    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.

  • Traveling Abroad

    Applying for Your U.S. Passport
    A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Belgium. 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 may 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 Belgium, 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 Belgium, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

    Registration is free and can be done online.

  • After Adoption

    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.

  • Contact Information

    U.S. Embassy in Belgium
    Boulevard du Regent 25
    1000 Brussels
    tel.: (02) 508-2537
    fax: (02) 513- 0409
    E-mail: uscitizenbrussels@state.gov
    Telephone: +358-9-616-25730

    Belgium's Adoption Authority (ies)
    Residents of the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium should contact:

    Kind en Gezin
    Hallepoortlaan 27
    1060 Brussels
    tel.: (02) 533 1476
    email adoptie@kindengezin.be

    Residents of the French-speaking part of Belgium should contact:

    Autorité Communautaire pour l'Adoption Internationale (ACAI)
    Boulevard Leopold II, 44,
    1080 Brussels
    tel.: (02) 413 2726.

    Residents of the German-speaking community should contact:

    Ministerium der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft
    Zentrale Behörde der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft für Adoptionen

    Gospertstrasse 1
    B-4700 Eupen
    Fax.: +32 (87) 55 64 74
    Tel.: + 32 (87) 59 63 46

    Embassy of Belgium
    3330 Garfield Street N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20008
    tel.: (202) 333-6900
    Fax (202) 333-5457
    E-mail: washington@diplobel.org

    Belgium also has Consulates in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.

    Office of Children's Issues
    U.S. Department of State  
    CA/OCS/CI  
    SA-17, 9th Floor
    Washington, DC 20522-1709
    Tel: 1-888-407-4747
    E-mail: AskCI@state.gov
    Internet: http://adoption.state.gov

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
    For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)

    1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)