Adoption as we know it today has been evolving throughout the ages. Various civilizations have recognized and utilized it. In Mexico, the figure was not clearly regulated until 1917. Unlike other eras, the focus given to adoption today is that which seeks to protect the child’s best interest, a principle which has guided the changes that have occurred throughout the Republic.

By Gustavo Calderón – Translated by Solomon Freimuth

BRIEF HISTORY OF ADOPTION IN MEXICO

The perpetuation of the species has been a concern of mankind as long as it has existed, a concern that even goes beyond the religious. Just knowing that we can leave a print on future generations translates into hope, as P. D. James mentions in his novel “Children of Men” which presents a world without children; with no future, that is a world without hope. In any case, we could say that adoption is the result of one of mankind´s necessities, be it for moral, religious, social, economic or even political reasons.

Adoption as we know it today has been evolving throughout the ages. Various civilizations have recognized and utilized it, we can find one of its most remote predecessors in the civilization of Ancient Egypt, as well as in the Roman Empire under Justinian (527-565 A.D.), where two classes of adoption were established: adoptio plena, where the adopted person became an member of the family, and adoptio minus plena, which allowed the adopted person to maintain a bond with his own family. These figures were very similar to those of today in some States of Mexico, which are known as “Full Adoption (Adopción Plena)” and “Simple Adoption (Adopción Simple)”, respectively.

In Mexico, the figure was not clearly regulated until 1917, when President Venustiano Carranza published the Law on Family Relations, stating in its 20th Article that “Adoption is the legal act whereby a person of legal age, agrees to accept a minor as his child, gaining in respect to (that child) all the rights that a parent has and acquiring all the responsibilities that this (relationship) brings, as if it were his (biological) child”, however the adoption recognized by this law did not establish a legal relationship between the adopted person and the adoptive family.

The Civil Code of 1928, which at the time applied to Mexico City (Federal District), to federal territories and to the entire Republic at the federal level, included the figure of adoption; however, the tendency that prevailed at that time would be considered, today, demeaning to adoptive parents as well as those who were being adopted. This law was modified several times over the years, but it was only after 1970 that it allowed adoptive parents to give their name to the adopted child.

Mexico approved and enacted the Hague Convention on Protection of Children in 1994, as a result of this Convention, the Federal Civil Code (and the code for the Federal District at the time) have been integrating several of its principles in their texts. Thus, in 1998, full adoption, simple adoption and international adoption were all recognized in one text. The adaptation process at a national level has been very slow, since state laws exclusively regulate the acts of civil registration, therefore, each State must include these principals in their respective legislation. To promote these changes, in 2007 there were several regional roundtables discussing the streamlining of the adoption process by the National System for Integral Family Development (DIF for its initials in Spanish). As a result, some states modified their civil codes and others issued special laws on adoption, as is the case of Quintana Roo, which published the Adoption Law of the State of Quintana Roo, which came into force on July 1st of 2009 and repealed several articles of the civil code to make way for this new law.

The fact that it is each state’s exclusive authority to legislate on this material has resulted in over 30 different laws in force in the country that regulate the same figure, in addition to this, the procedure must be carried out before different municipal and state government agencies, as well as the federal authority in cases of international adoption, not to mention that the issue will have to appear before a Family Court Judge, which means that all together and if there is no appropriate council, the case might take longer than many people would be willing to wait, giving rise to the abandonment of the procedure or do it by means contrary to law, even though in many cases the goal is genuinely humanitarian.

While it is true that some of the substantive requirements may vary, as the case of marriages between same sex, which allowed the Federal District but not in the rest of the country, the fact is that there are several efforts in Mexico to unify criteria in order to facilitate the process of adoption. Unlike other eras, the focus given to adoption today is that which seeks to protect the child’s best interest, a principle which has guided the changes that have occurred throughout the Republic which hopefully will lead to a clear harmonization and unification of this procedure, which will translate, at the end of the day, to less homeless children and more children with opportunities for a better life, children with hope.

The second part of this article will discuss the situation of vulnerable children and adoption as part of the solution to the problem of social decay in Mexico. The third part will address the subject of the procedure, requirements and adoption by foreigners.


About the author: Gustavo Calderon is an independent Lawyer and Professor of Family Law. The Author is part of the firm CHF Calderon & Associates in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. For more information about this firm, please visit www.chfmexico.com or contact us via email at info@chfmexico.com Copying, distribution or publication of this article, in whole or in part, is permitted provided that the work is attributed to its authors exactly as mentioned in this paragraph.