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Spain

Official Name: Spain Last Updated: January 7, 2013

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Hague Adoption Convention Country? Yes

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  • Hague Convention Information

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

    Spain is not considered a country of origin in intercountry adoption.  There are few children eligible for adoption, with a long waiting list of Spanish prospective adoptive parents.   Most intercountry adoptions in Spain are by legal residents of Spain who adopt in third countries.

    While legally possible, intercountry adoption of a Spanish orphan by foreigners is unlikely.  No Spanish orphans have received U.S. immigrant visas in the past five fiscal years.  The information provided is intended primarily to assist in rare adoption cases from Spain, including adoptions of Spanish children by relatives in the United States, as well as adoptions from third countries by Americans living in Spain. 

    Note:  Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. 

  • Who Can Adopt

    Adoption between the United States and Spain is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Spain, 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). Read more on Who Can Adopt. Learn more.

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

    • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Adoptive parents must be legal residents of Spain and must remain in Spain throughout the adoption proceeding if it takes place in Spain.
    • AGE REQUIREMENTS: To be eligible to adopt any child, a prospective adoptive parent must be at least twenty-five years old and be at least fourteen years older than the adoptee. If a married couple wishes to adopt, at least one of the two must meet the twenty-five-year age requirement.
    • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: To jointly adopt, a couple must be married or otherwise legally treated as a married couple under Spanish law However, a prospective adoptive parent does not need to be married to adopt. If only one spouse in a married couple applies to adopt, the consent of the other spouse is necessary.

      Note: Spain legalized same-sex marriage in 2005.

    • INCOME REQUIREMENTS: There are no specific income requirements related to adoption. The judge assesses all factors related to the welfare of the child before issuing an adoption order.
  • Who Can Be Adopted

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

    ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:


    • Relinquishment/Abandonment Requirements: A child is eligible for adoption if the biological parents have given their consent, are unknown, or have lost their parental rights.
    • Age Requirements: Under Spanish law, the prospective adoptee must be younger than eighteen years old. An exception can be made to these conditions when a child has lived with the prospective parent(s) continuously since before turning fourteen. It is important for American prospective adoptive families to note, however, that U.S. law required adoptive children to be under age 16 at the time of adoption except in special circumstances outlined in the law.
    • Marriage Requirements: No known marriage requirements
    • Income Requirements: No known marriage requirements
    • Other Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents may not adopt their own descendents or immediate blood relatives, and may not adopt second-degree relatives (i.e. niece, nephew) by blood or marriage, unless they are orphans.
  • How To Adopt

    Spain's Adoption Authority

    Each of the 17 Autonomous Communities in Spain is the Central Authority for its territory.  The national-level Central Authority for transmission of communications, the Dirección General del Menor y Familia in Madrid, is the office responsible for transmitting requests from prospective adoptive parents to the Central Authority in the appropriate Autonomous Community.

    The Process

    Because Spain is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Spain 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 Spain 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 Read about Transition Cases for more information.

    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 Spain
    6. Bring your Child Home
    1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:

      The first step in adopting a child from Spain 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 Spain.  Learn more.
    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).   Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

      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 Spain.  Spain’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Spain’s law.

    3. Be Matched with a Child:

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

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

      The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Spain generally includes the following:

      • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY:Spain is divided in to 17 Autonomous Communities, each of which has its own governmental entity in charge of adoptions. 
      • ROLE OF THE COURT:The court will make the final judgment on the adoption application.  A judge may authorize an adoption only with the approval of the local governmental authority in charge of adoptions.
      • ADOPTION APPLICATION/ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: Prospective adoptive parents must apply to the agency in the community in which they wish to adopt. When the application is complete, a team from the Autonomous Community adoption authority will carry out a psycho-social study of the prospective adoptive parent(s), assessing their ability to adopt, and will make a judgment on their capacity to be parents. To receive approval from the appropriate agency, that agency must find that the prospective parent(s) are capable of carrying out the duties of a parent. The parent(s) begin the process by filling out an application for adoption. Approval from the agency is not required in the following circumstances: if the child is an orphan and related to the parent(s) by blood or marriage, if the child is the child of a prospective parent's spouse, if the child has been kept by the prospective parent(s) legally in a pre-adoptive status or has been under the parent(s) care for more than one year, or if the child is underage but considered independent. Next, the agency will present its assessment along with the application, and accompanying documents, to the court with jurisdiction in the Autonomous Community.

        If a U.S. citizen residing in Spain wishes to bring a child adopted in another country to reside in Spain, and requires periodic monitoring of the adoption, a list of the officially accredited adoption agencies can be obtained through the Dirección General del Menor y Familia Servicio de Adopción Internacional y Acogimiento Familiar at C/ Agustín de Betancourt 4, 28003 Madrid, tel.: 91 363 2300.  Americans residing in Spain who wish to adopt a child from another country should also refer to the Department of State adoption flyer for the child’s country of origin.

      • TIME FRAME: Approximately 15 months.
      • ADOPTION APPLICATION: Prospective adoptive parents must apply to the agency in the community in which they wish to adopt.   When the application is complete, a team from the Autonomous Community adoption authority will carry out a psycho-social study of the prospective adoptive parent(s), assessing their ability to adopt, and will make a judgment on their capacity to be parents.  Next, the agency will present its assessment along with the application, and accompanying documents, to the court with jurisdiction in the Autonomous Community.
      • ADOPTION FEES: From 12,000 to 20,000 Euros.

        In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.

      • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED:
        • birth certificate;
        • marriage certificate (if applicable);
        • police record;
        • medical certificate; and
        • bank statements.

        NOTE:Additional documents may be requested.  You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic.  Read more on Traveling Abroad to learn about Authenticating U.S. Documents. 

    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.

        In Spain, the Judge who authorizes the adoption will issue an order to register the adoption at the Civil Registry, which records vital statistics.  The adoption is annotated at the margin of the original birth record.  Adopting parents may request the original birth record be cancelled and a new one will be created with the adoption information only.

      • Spanish Passport

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

        The adopting parents may apply for the Spanish passport using the new birth certificate.

      • 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.  Read more about the Medical Examination.

    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. 

    Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000

  • Traveling Abroad

    Applying for Your U.S. Passport

    A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Spain. 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 Spain, 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 Spain, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

    Registration is free and can be done online.

  • After Adoption

    What does Spain require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?

    Spain does have post adoption requirements. However, there are different requirements among the different 17 Autonomous Communities (regions), and you will need to contact the relevant regional authority to learn about the requirements for that region.

    We strongly urge you to comply with the wish of Spain and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner.  Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process.  Your cooperation will contribute to that country’s history of positive experiences with American 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 is a good place 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 Spain
    American Embassy Madrid
    American Citizen Services
    C./ Serrano, 75
    Madrid
    Tel: 011 34 91 587 2200
    Fax: 011 34 91 587 2243
    Email:  askacs@state.gov
    Internet: http://madrid.usembassy.gov/

    Spain's Adoption Authority
    Spain is divided in to 17 Autonomous Communities, each of which has its own governmental entity in charge of adoptions. 

    Embassy of Spain
    Address: 2375 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20037
    Phone: 202-728-2334; (from Spain): (1 202) 452 01 00; (1 202) 728 23 40
    Fax (from Spain): (1 202) 833 56 70
    E-mail: emb.washington@maec.es

    *Spain also has consulates in: Albuquerque, Anchorage, Atlanta, Boise, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Detroit, El Paso, Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City (MO), Los Angeles, Miami, Mobile, New Orleans, New York, Newark, Pensacola, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Juan (PR), St. Louis, and Seattle.

    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)