Mexico is very high-risk in terms of adoption, and although there are many children in need of homes, it is not a country for someone who wants a predictable, well-organized process that clearly safeguards the rights of birthmothers, children, and adoptive families.
First of all, while there is a national adoption law in Mexico, each Mexican state, and sometimes each major city in a state, will have its own additional requirements. If you plan to adopt in Mexico, you will need to work with an agency, lawyer, or facilitator that is extremely experienced in a particular area of the country, and that understands not only the specific legal requirements, but also how they are being applied on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, in some areas, the interpretation of the laws may seem to change, depending on who in the government you consult and what day of the week it is.
Second, the U.S. State Department says that, while the national law only requires families to stay in-country for from one to three weeks, living with the child before the adoption is finalized, the fact is that many parents need to prepare to spend at least three months in Mexico, going through the legal process in their child's state. This puts Mexico out of the reach of most families, who cannot afford to spend three months or more away from their other children, jobs, etc.
Third, while no country is totally immune to allegations of corruption, the corruption in the Mexican adoption system, both inside and outside government, seems to be particularly horrific. Many families who have tried to adopt using Mexican attorneys and facilitators have lost thousands of dollars, and have experienced great emotional trauma.
These people have gotten either no child at all, a child with far more serious special needs than they were promised, or a child who was improperly removed from his/her birth family. They have paid large sums in bribes, outside the quoted fees. And even after going through the Mexican legal process, they may have been unable to bring their child home, because the U.S. government determined that the child was not eligible for immigration, either because he/she did not meet the "orphan definition" in the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act or because he/she was obtained illegally from his/her birthparents.
The U.S. Embassy and the various U.S. Consulates in Mexico scrutinize all applications for an adoption visa very carefully, because of the high level of corruption. If a person adopts a child in Mexico, but cannot get an adoption visa for him/her, the only way the person will be able to bring the child home will be to live overseas with him/her for two years, and then apply for a regular visa for him/her.
Relatively few reputable American agencies work in Mexico, because they are committed to international standards of ethical adoption practice and they fear that they may be unable to place children while adhering to these standards. They also don't want to work in a country where they cannot tell a family, with reasonable certainty, how long the process will take.
That being said, there are some reputable, licensed, nonprofit American agencies that have made the effort to build an ethical program in Mexico. Here is a list of agencies that are members of the Joint Council on International Children's Services and that work or have recently worked in Mexico.
Note that some had pilot programs but decided not to continue them, like CASI. Also note that some of the programs feature adoptions from government orphanages, while others are essentially private adoptions in which a Mexican lawyer works with the agency. For this reason, and because the programs may operate in different parts of Mexico, they may have different eligibility requirements for parents and may have children with different situations regarding age, gender, health status, etc.
CASI Foundation for Children
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago
Children of the Nations International Adoptions, Inc.
Children of the World, Inc.
Children's Choice, Inc.
Gladney Center for Adoption
International Christian Adoptions
Reaching Out thru International Adoption
You can get contact information for these agencies on the Joint Council website, at www.jcics.org
. Even though these agencies have all signed the JCICS Standards of Practice, you should check them out carefully before sending any money. They may or may not be right for you.
One good thing to do is to contact the U.S. Embassy in Mexico and inquire as to whether any of the agencies has experienced difficulties in getting visas for adopted children. A good agency will generally be able to determine, in advance, whether a child meets U.S. criteria for a visa.
Also check out the agency by contacting the state(s) in which it is licensed, and the BBB, to see if there is a pattern of significant complaints about it.
Of course, check references thoroughly. The agency will probably give you contact information for people using it for Mexican adoptions, but since the agency will generally give only information on its most satisfied clients, you should also seek out families in your local adoption support group, or in big Internet support groups such as those on Yahoo Groups.
Membership in Joint Council or other respected organizations that advocate for ethical intercountry adoption and help to educate adoption professionals is something you should consider important, especially if staff from an agency have served on the Board or done presentations at conferences of these organizations, showing that they are well regarded by their peers.
A good place to go for general information on the adoption process is the website of the U.S. State Department, at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html
. Click on "country specific information" and then on "Mexico".