Adopting a child especially from a third world country (like the poor countries in sub-Saharan Africa) and giving that child a good place to call a home, good education, and a better future, is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give. However, not everyone can adopt and not everyone should adopt.
If you feel physically, emotionally and psychologically sound to adopt a child, then go ahead and be an angel to some of these poor children in Africa, Asia, and around the world. If you are planning on adopting a child from Africa, here are some of the things you must know.
Although the adoption process in Africa varies from country to country, there appears to be a general procedure one must follow. Using Ghana as an example.
Ghana is an Anglophone (English-speaking) country in West Africa with a population of about 29 million people. Although there are over 50 languages and dialects spoken in Ghana today, English remains the official language of Ghana. In other words, English is the language used in filling forms and in other official communications.
The adoption process in Ghana is very similar to the adoption process in most of the English speaking countries in Africa.
Ghana is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, when the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008, inter-country adoption processing for Ghana did not change.
The Department of Social Welfare may consider an application for inter-country adoption as an alternative means of child care, if a child cannot be placed in a foster or adoptive family in Ghana or cannot in any suitable matter be cared for in Ghana. A court may grant an inter-country adoption order if it is in the best interest of the child.
Who can adopt?
As mentioned above, not everyone can adopt and not everyone should adopt. Before you get the permission, your country and the country you want to adopt the child from will examine you to make sure you can take proper care of the child and also to make sure nothing happens to the child you are adopting. Using America as an example, to bring an adopted child to United States from Ghana, you must be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. government. The U.S. government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You can read more about this on their website.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Ghana also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
Prospective adoptive parents must be resident in Ghana a minimum of three months prior to adopting a child. This is a way of making sure the person adopting the child knows at least something about the way of life in Ghana. This will enable the person adopting the child to know how to help the child adapt to his or her new environment after adoption. The prospective adoptive parents may request a waiver of the residency requirement through the court. The courts will approve a waiver of the residency requirement with the recommendation of the Ministry of Social Welfare if it is in the best interest of the child.
Applicants must be at least 25 years of age and at least 21 years older than the child. Most countries in Africa require that you be above 25 before adopting a child. In other words, the older you are, the better.
An application for adoption may be made jointly by a husband and wife (Male and female. Homosexual couples cannot adopt a child in Ghana). Application for adoption may be made by a single person, but only if that person is a citizen of Ghana. As I mentioned, same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt children in Ghana. Also, single males are not allowed to adopt in Ghana unless the child to be adopted is their biological child.
Applicants must be gainfully employed.
Applicants must be of sound mind and must undergo a medical exam as part of the pre-approval process. This is required in almost all African countries. You must be mentally and emotionally sound before you get permission to adopt.
Who can be adopted?
Not every child in Ghana can be adopted. Ghana has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption. You cannot adopt a child in Ghana unless he or she meets the requirements (The Department of Social welfare will brief you).
In addition to these requirements, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law for you to bring him or her immediately to the United States.
How to adopt:
The Ghanaian Authority that takes care of adoption processes in Ghana is the Department of Social Welfare, Client Services Unit
You need to follow the process below:
The process for adopting a child from Ghana generally includes the following steps:
1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
3. Be Matched with a Child
4. Adopt the Child in Ghana
5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
6. Bringing Your Child Home
Choose an adoption service provider:
Prospective adoptive parents will work with a Ghanaian Social Welfare Officer in the region from which they will adopt to be pre-approved for adoption. Prospective adoptive parents must work with an attorney to complete the legal requirements for adoption in Ghana. The government of Ghana does not accredit foreign adoption service providers. The Ministry of Social Welfare is the only agency to provide adoption services. There are similar agencies in every country in Africa.
Apply to be found eligible:
After adoption you cannot just bring the child to your country. You need permission from the immigration department in your country. To bring an adopted child from Ghana to the United States for example, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
In other words, you must meet the United States requirements as well as the Ghanaian requirements.
Applicants purchase the adoption form from the Director of Social Welfare at any regional Social Welfare office for about 10 Cedis (about 6 US dollars) and submit the completed form along with the attachments specified in the form to the Director of Social Welfare or his/her representative at the Regional Office for processing.
The processing of the application begins with visits to the applicant's home by a Social Welfare Officer who interviews the applicants and submits the report to the Placement Committee, the head officer for adoptions in the Department of Social Welfare. The Placement Committee will review the application and determine eligibility. All these can take three months or less.
Be matched with a child:
If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Ghana will provide you with a referral to a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of a particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
Depending on the availability of children, a suitable child is placed with would-be parents for a trial period of three months, during which time the Social Welfare Officer undertakes monthly visits.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Ghana's requirements, as mentioned in the "Who Can be Adopted" section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law. You can read more about this by going to the US government website.
The Director of Social Welfare submits the comprehensive report, which covers the social investigation of the applicants, background checks, mental stability, financial stability, etc. to the High Court. An adoption order may then be granted by the High Court upon recommendations from the Director of Social Welfare. Please note that the adoption process is not complete without permission from the High Court.
Adopt the child (Gain legal custody):
The adoption is incomplete without the granting of an Adoption Order by the High Court. The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Ghana generally includes the following:
It takes one year to complete an adoption in Ghana. An additional one to six months may be required for the U.S. immigration petition and visa process. USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security in Accra, conducts investigations of all adoption cases in Ghana, which can prolong the process.
In general, the documents required are the same as for an adoption in the United States, including birth, marriage and divorce records, medical examination and clearance, and evidence of financial stability and gainful employment.
Please note: Additional documents may be requested.
Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status:
After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Ghana, the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must determine whether the child qualifies as an orphan as defined by U.S. immigration law. You can read more about this by going to the USCIS website.
Bring your child home:
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Ghana.
US immigrant visa:
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for a U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. U.S. citizens are required to use a valid U.S. passport to enter or depart the United States. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the.
Once the Ghanaian adoption is final, adoptive parents should contact the DHS/USCIS office at the U.S. Embassy in Accra to schedule an appointment via telephone. See contact information below.
Once DHS/USCIS approves the I-600 petition, they will contact adoptive parents directly by telephone, notifying them to contact the consular section to schedule an immigrant visa interview.
Note: The U.S. Embassy cannot issue visas the same day. Visas are normally issued on the Friday of the week the final interview takes place.
The Child citizenship act:
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire U.S. citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States on an IR-3 or IH-3 immigrant visa.
For adoptions finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire U.S. citizenship automatically when the court in the United States issues the final adoption decree.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting. The adoption process in Nigeria is very similar to the adoption process in Ghana. It is not too late. You can adopt a child today.