PORTUGAL – Foreign Authorization – Requirements and Procedure

To support the viability of intercountry adoption as a permanency option for children in Portugal, the Office of Children’s Issues sought information from the Portuguese Central Authority regarding its adoption procedures. The Portuguese Central Authority confirmed that they periodically receive inquiries from U.S. citizens interested in adopting a Portuguese child but who are unable to proceed because there are currently no U.S. adoption service providers (ASP) authorized to facilitate intercountry adoptions in Portugal. We also heard from U.S. citizens who, for the same reason, cannot pursue the adoption of a relative child whose best interests may be served by placement with family members in the United States.

The following information, provided by the Portuguese Central Authority, is intended to explain the process of how to adopt and how to seek authorization. ASPs with questions about pursuing authorization in Portugal should contact the Portuguese Central Authority, attention Dr. Eliana Santos, autoridadecentraladocaointernacional@seg-social.pt.

Process: The Portuguese Central Authority receives referrals for intercountry adoption from 21 local adoption teams throughout Portugal if no suitable prospective adoptive parent (PAP) has been identified within Portugal for a particular child.  Intercountry adoptions are handled according to two distinct procedures. In the “Normal Flow” process, the authorized foreign entity (e.g. ASP) submits an eligible PAP’s application, which the Portuguese Central Authority enters into a database until such time as a match is identified. In the “Reverse Flow” process, the Portuguese Central Authority may proactively contact an authorized foreign entity (e.g. ASP) for assistance to identify a suitable placement for a particular child who may be harder to place, e.g. older children, sibling groups, or children with special needs. If a prospective adoptive family is identified, the Portuguese Central Authority seeks approval for the match from the National Counsel for Adoption before the adoption may proceed.

Intra-familiar (relative) adoptions: Prospective adoptive parents who have Portuguese citizenship or heritage but who reside in the United States are not considered for domestic adoptions subject to the subsidiarity principle and must pursue the intercountry adoption process.

How to Seek Authorization in Portugal: Requirements for authorization of foreign accredited bodies to mediate in the intercountry adoption in Portugal (as per Article 67 of the Legal Regime of the Adoption Process (approved by Law no. 143/2015, of September 8) are as follows:

1.1) Application to the Portuguese Central Authority for Intercountry Adoption, containing the identification of the entity, its legal nature, identification of representatives, material competencies that they intend to exercise, territorial scope of this intervention (national or regional, within Portugal);

1.2) Copy of the Statutes (containing express reference for non-profit entity with purposes including the protection of children);

1.3) Description of the multidisciplinary technical team (with professionals trained in psychology, social service and law), activities per professional, predicted case load, source of financing, methodologies, etc.;

1.4) Curriculum Vitae of representatives and administrators;

1.5) Certificates of criminal record of the technical and administrative team;

1.6) Proof of accreditation in the country of origin.

** Note: The Adoption Oversight Division in the Office of Children’s Issues can provide an accreditation verification letter to satisfy Portuguese requirement 1.6. ASPs may email ASPadoption@state.gov to request this official communication.

Last Updated: March 1, 2021