Changes in International Adoption from Nicaragua


Families considering adoption from Nicaragua should be open to older children or children with special needs.MLJ Adoptions is celebrating some exciting movement in the past couple months in regards in adoption from Nicaragua! This year, three children have been matched with waiting families; all three children were under the age of three, but did have additional medical needs.

Mi Familia, the adoption entity in Nicaragua, has indicated that their focus has shifted toward placing older and special needs children in families through international adoption. This will certainly be disappointing for families waiting to adopt a younger child or a child without know medical needs. Because many of the currently waiting families were seeking younger children with no known medical needs or only very mild needs there are few currently waiting families open to the characteristics in children that Nicaragua is currently trying to place. Our in-country staff has shared that younger and healthier children will be matched with Nicaraguan families through domestic adoption. We are eager to find families for Nicaragua’s most vulnerable children – those who are older and have known medical needs.

This shift in focus isn’t the only change in the international adoption from Nicaragua. In the past, children were preliminarily matched with prospective adoptive families prior to the children going through the legal process of abandonment. Instead, prospective adoptive parents would travel to meet a child or children and spend time together to begin an adaptation period while the legal abandonment process was being completed. The adaptation period occurs over the course of a several weeks while the family resides with the child. A Nicaraguan social worker will monitor the placement and approve before the legal adoption process may begin.

Today the process is different with respect to the legal abandonment process. When Mi Familia, the Nicaraguan adoption authority, preliminarily matches a child to a prospective adoptive family, the match should occur only after the legal abandonment process. This allows for new safeguards in the adoption from Nicaragua because at the time of preliminary match the child will be legally free to be adopted.

The Nicaragua adoption process does still require that families be in-country for 12-20 weeks during an adaptation period and the finalization of the adoption. Both of our families who recently brought their children home were in Nicaragua for about 16 weeks. We currently have a family in country.

Starting the spring of 2016, the adoption process in Nicaragua started to undergo these transitions and changes, including new staff of Mi Familia. A little bit over a year later, we are excited to see matches resume for our families and the adoption process begin to move. We are hopeful that the adoption process will continue to progress, especially for families open to adopting older children and children with special needs.

Nicaraguan children who are older or with additional needs are currently in great need of families. Given it’s proximity to the United States, the few requirements for adoptive families, and it’s family friendly culture, the Nicaragua program may be one to consider for families open to children over the age of 6 or who are open to parenting children with additional known medical needs.

If you’re interested in learning more about adoption from Nicaragua, contact us.

Nicole Skellenger works as MLJ Adoptions’ Chief Executive Officer and Adoption Attorney. Nicole has spent time in orphanages with children who have nothing and are desperate for affection and has committed herself to using her skills to create better futures for these deserving children.