What is meant by adoption in law

The act of legally receiving as one’s own a child who is not biologically one, to provide her with the affection and care necessary to satisfy her spiritual and material needs.

Who can adopt?

  • First, they can adopt Chilean or foreign couples with permanent residence in Chile.
  • In their absence, Chilean spouses or non-resident foreigners in Chile.
  • In the absence of married couples residing in Chile or abroad, single, divorced or widowed, Chilean or foreign, with permanent residence in the country can apply. If there are several single or widowed interested parties who meet similar conditions, the court will prefer whoever is a consanguineous relative of the minor, and failing that, whoever has their personal care.

Can the child’s grandparents adopt as a child?
Yes, they must meet the general requirement, which is indicated below, of having been evaluated as suitable and will have preference with respect to other people interested in adopting the child (previous answer).

What happens if, before completing the adoption process, one of the spouses dies, separates or divorces?
If the deceased spouse has initiated the adoption procedures while still alive or the spouse has expressed their willingness to adopt, the adoption will be understood to have been carried out by both spouses. A similar situation occurs with respect to spouses who are judicially separated or divorced, after the start of the adoption process.

What general requirements must be met in order to adopt?
a) In the case of the spouses, they must have two or more years of civil marriage, unless one or both spouses are infertile, in which case a minimum duration of the marriage is not required.

b) The interested parties must be over 25 years of age and under 60, unless one of the adopters is a consanguineous ascendant of the adoptee, in which case such age limits are not required.

c) Have a minimum difference of 20 years of age with the adopted, a requirement to which the same previous exception applies.

d) Have been evaluated as suitable from the physical, mental, psychological and moral point of view, by the National Service for Minors (Sename) or any body accredited before it to develop adoption programs.

What children can be adopted?
Boys and girls under 18 years of age:

a) Whose parents cannot take charge of their care and express the desire to give them up for adoption before a competent judge.
b) That they are a blood descendant of one of the adopters.
c) That they have been declared susceptible of being adopted by resolution of a judge due to any of the following causes:

  • That the parents are physically or morally disabled to exercise their care.
  • That the parents do not provide personal or financial attention for 2 months. This period is reduced to 30 days, if the child is less than 1 year old. The lack of financial resources is not a sufficient cause.
  • To be handed over to a public or private institution for the protection of children or to a third party, with the manifest intention of freeing themselves from their legal obligations, which will happen when the maintenance of the child in charge of the institution is not due to a justified cause or they are not visited at least once during the periods indicated above.

How to adopt a child?
Interested parties must approach the National Service for Minors or one of the bodies accredited to it, to be part of the list of people interested in adoption, which distinguishes between those who reside in the country and those who do not.

This adoption program must provide the child with a responsible family. She must provide support and guidance to her family of origin, receive the child and take care of her. It will also make the technical evaluation of the applicants and the preparation of them as adoptive family.

Prior to the adoption process indicated below, the child must have been declared capable of being adopted, through a judicial procedure that confirms the situation of the child in relation to their family of origin, and contemplates the possibility that it opposes and asserts their rights. Said procedure may be initiated ex officio by the judge, at the request of the National Service for Minors or the accredited body under whose care the child remains, or by the natural or legal persons who are in their charge.

The adoption process must be carried out before the Family Court of the child’s domicile at the request of the interested parties who meet the legal requirements, presenting:

  • Full copy of the birth registration of the person to be adopted.
  • Authorized copy of the court resolution that states that the child can be adopted.
  • Evaluation report of physical, mental, psychological and moral suitability of the applicant or applicants, issued by the National Service for Minors ( Sename) or an organization accredited to it such as: Fundación San José para la Adopción , Fundación Chilena de la Adopción , Fundación Mi Casa  y la Institución Colonia y Campamentos (better known as Quinta de Tilcoco).

Then a process begins where the judge hears those interested in adopting, the adoptee and Sename if applicable.

Should the judge hear the child?
In all adoption procedures, both in the previous ones and in the adoption itself, the judge must take into account the opinion of the child, depending on his age and maturity, and if he is over 12 (if is a girl) or 14 (if a boy), your consent will be required.

Can I meet the child before starting the adoption procedures?
No, it is the judge who decides to hand over the minor to a family that has been proposed by the National Service for Minors or by an accredited body based on the characteristics and needs of the child.

Can I request to adopt a child with certain characteristics?
At the time of starting the process, the future parents can express their preferences regarding sex, age, health status, belonging or not to a certain ethnic group, origin of conception (rape, incest, parents with psychiatric illness or mental deficiency, drug addicts, etc.), antecedents that will be considered by Sename or the accredited body that will propose family alternatives for a child to the competent court, and will ultimately be resolved by the family judge.

Can the selected family know the background of the child?
Yes, the selected family will be informed of all the history of the proposed child (history of her biological parents; results of medical examinations and evaluations carried out), which are not always available. The more restrictive applicants’ preferences, the longer they will have to wait to be selected as adopters.

How long does the adoption process take?

According to data from Sename, from the moment applicants are evaluated as suitable and are entered into the respective registry, the average waiting time until they are considered as a family alternative for a child is 12 to 18 months approximately.

However, the term is relative and will depend on various factors. It is crucial that applicants respond adequately to the needs and characteristics of the child.

According to Sename’s background, without prejudice to the foregoing, once a family has been selected for a child, they are normally entrusted with their personal care within a period that varies according to the availability of the Court to set the respective hearing (approximately 10 days). Then, the adoption procedure is processed, in an equally variable period, which depends on the setting of the appropriate hearings and compliance with the steps ordered by the court ruling granting the adoption. The cancellation of the child’s original birth registration, and the new civil registration as a child of the adopter or adopters, must be considered, from which moment the adoption takes effect.

How much does the procedure cost?
The procedure has no cost, except for the fees that, according to the Sename Regulations, applicants must pay for the psychological and social evaluations required to certify their suitability. In the case of bodies accredited to develop adoption programs, each one regulates the value of the benefits it provides, generally opting for differentiated fees.

Once the judge gives me a child for adoption, can I say no?
No, the adoption is irrevocable.

Once a child is adopted, can his biological parents or relatives take him away from me?
No, since she becomes your child with all the rights and duties that this entails.

Is there a legal difference between biological and adopted children?
No, Chilean legislation guarantees the equality of children.


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