In connection with a claim for child's benefits under title II of the Social Security
Act, you asked us for an opinion about two questions involving the laws of Colombia
on legal adoption and on equitable adoption: (1) under the laws of the Republic of
Colombia, what are the requirements for a valid adoption; and (2) under the laws of
the Republic of Colombia, what are the requirements to establish an equitable adoption?
Briefly stated, the facts of this claim are the following; the child claimant, Myra
J~, was born on April 25, 1959 at a Maternity Clinic in Cali, Colombia. The identity
of her biological parents are unknown. A document (certification of birth records)
issued on August 17, 1959 indicates Myra's adoptive parents as the wage earner and
the wage earner's husband; however, this document contains a remark on it that says:
"will be adopted as soon as possible". Another document (the custody order), which
was recorded on August 25, 1959, indicates that the wage earner and her spouse were
given permission to adopt the child, if they so desired. The wage earner states that
Myra was definitely adopted but she is unable to find a copy of the decree. Apparently
Myra has lived with the wage earner since 1959 or 1969. If the adoption occurred,
we assume, for purposes of this opinion, that it occurred around 1959 or 1960.
Based on the report prepared by the Hispanic Law Division of the Library of Congress,
adoption under the laws of Colombia in 1959 or 1960 requires an approval or authorization
by the court and the execution of a notarial instrument of adoption, recordable in
the Office of the Civil Registry. Therefore, SSA may accept, as evidence of the existence
of an adoption under the laws of Colombia, either a testimony of the notarial instrument
of adoption or a certificate of the adoption issued by the Office of the Civil Registry.
On the question of equitable adoption, it appears that neither the laws of Colombia
nor the courts of that country recognize the doctrine of equitable adoption.