Colombia has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption. You cannot adopt a child in Colombia unless he or she meets these requirements, and is listed on the database of adoptable children available for inter-country adoptions maintained by the Central Authority for Adoption, the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF in Spanish). Although there are occasionally younger children available (especially for adoptive families of Colombian heritage), in general, families need to be open to children who are older, ages 7 to 15 years.
Colombia has a very strong child welfare system that uses international adoption as a last option for a child to join a family. Domestic adoption does happen. When a child is relinquished he/she is added to a database for the purpose of domestic adoption. After a set period of time he/she is then placed in an international adoption database.
Children's rights and welfare are protected by the ICBF, which works with other relevant departments and agencies. Children who are particularly at risk of losing parental care are those who live in single-parent households, where the main earner suffers from a severe illness or injury, and/or where there has been a history of abuse or neglect.
Children are cared for in protection institutions, private institutions (called Authorized Adoption Institutions, or IAPAs) as well as foster homes. Although they receive adequate medical care, nutrition and education in these locations, there is no substitute for a loving, permanent family and many children experience delays related to being in an institutionalized care setting. Outside of these typical delays, younger children are more likely to have minor to severe medical conditions, however sibling groups and/or older children (age 7 years or older) may not have any known medical needs at the time of placement.
Boys and girls of all ages, are available, including those in sibling groups of various sizes. The wait time for a sibling group or an older child is likely to be less than that of a single, younger child and eligibility requirements for adoptive families open to these children are generally more flexible. Families of Colombian descent are also given priority and may experience shorter wait times than non-Colombian families. Photos and medical information can be reviewed prior to match, and adoption subsidies are sometimes available for waiting children.
Colombia is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention).