Panama collageThe southernmost of the Central American nations, Panama is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital is Panama City. The Panama Canal bisects the isthmus at its narrowest and lowest point, allowing passage from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Panama is slightly smaller than South Carolina. It is marked by a chain of mountains in the west, moderate hills in the interior, and a low range on the east coast. There are extensive forests in the fertile Caribbean area.

Panama is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, all intercountry adoptions between Panama and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.


  • Both boys and girls are available for adoption.
  • Children as young as 4 years and as old as sixteen are available for adoption.
  • Sibling groups are available.
  • Children with Special Needs are available for adoption.


Applicants must be at least 18 years older than the child they are adopting and must be between 25 and 55 years old with some exceptions. Panama requires that married couples must be married at least one year, and both married couples and single women may adopt from Panama. Applicants must be in good health and must have a positive net worth.


  1. Make application to the Kentucky office of Nightlight Christian Adoptions.
  2. Begin your adoption homestudy and submit form I-800A to CIS.
  3. Begin to assemble your dossier. We will give you detailed instructions.
  4. Once CIS has approved your adoption homestudy, you will receive your I-797C pre-approval notice.
  5. Once your CIS approval has been received your dossier is complete and you will be registered to adopt in Panama.
  6. SENNIAF will add you to a list of waiting families. It can take 18 to 24 months to receive a referral.
  7. You will then travel to Panama to meet and bond with your child (a minimum of 4 weeks for bonding).
  8. If all parties agree to the adoption, Nightlight will begin processing the family’s I-800.
  9. You will attend court and after the ruling the attorney will obtain a new birth certificate and passport for your child.
  10. The final step is to obtain the US visa for your child and return home.

Most families will remain in Panama for a minimum of 90 days for the adoption process to be completed. In the case of adopting a child with special needs, the time in the country may be significantly reduced. While awaiting adoption children reside in orphanages. Panama adoptions on average take between 24 and 48 months to complete.


You receive a referral of a child from Nightlight Christian Adoptions through the SENNIAF. The referral will include a brief social history of the child and the current health and development of the child. We highly recommend that you have this information reviewed by a doctor who specializes in international adoption before you make a decision. Once you decide to accept a referral, you will be considered “matched” with the child. You will then have up to 4 months to travel to Panama. Once you travel to Panama, you will remain in country a minimum of 90 days to process the adoption. The first 4 weeks are spent bonding with your child. The first week you will visit the orphanage daily and if all goes well, the child will then be allowed to join you at your hotel or guest house. After 4 weeks, the attorney will file for a court date. Once your ruling is made, the attorney will obtain a new birth certificate and passport and begin the visa process. Both parents do not have to remain in Panama the entire time though both parents must attend the initial one week bonding period and the court hearing.


Within 30 days of your arrival home, you must have a home visit by your home study provider. Your home study provider will prepare post-placement reports and submit them to Nightlight. Panama requires post adoption reports at 1 month, 4 months, 8 months, 12 months, 16 months, 20 months, 24 months, 32 months, and 36 months. These reports include your child’s developmental progress and pictures. This is a very serious commitment; Nightlight is committed to showing the SENNIAF and birth families that children adopted by US citizens are healthy and well cared for. Compliance with post adoption reports is also required by the Hague Convention. Therefore, Nightlight charges a fee to monitor and process these post placement reports and also requires families to pay for the cost of the post placement report in advance.


The program fee for a Panama adoption is $18,000. Additional estimated expenses of $18,000 – 27,000 will bring the total cost to approximately $36,000– 45,000. In addition, your out-of-pocket expenses may further be reduced if you receive scholarships or other employer-provided adoption benefits. For additional fee information, please see Exhibit A of our application. Please contact Lisa Prather, at, or call us at 859-263-9964 with any questions.

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To learn more about adopting from Panama, you may contact us, call our KY Office at (859)263-9964, or directly email our Panama coordinator, Lisa Prather, at

Panama Adoption Program Details:

  • Program cost will range from $36,205-$45,105
  • Children will be 4 years of age or older
  • Adoptive parents must be between 25 and 55 years of age
  • Referral time for the Panama program averages 3-5 years

More Information on Panama Adoptions

Panama Adoption Overview
U.S. Relations with Panama
Intercountry Adoption Information on Panama