How to Adopt from Burkina Faso

Typical street scene in Ouagadougou.

WARNING: Burkina Faso is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Burkina Faso before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.

Adoption Authority

Burkina Faso Adoption Authority

Ministère de l'Action Sociale et de la Solidarité Nationale La Direction des Placements et des Adoptions Immeuble Baoghin, Secteur 10 01 BP 515, Ouagadougou 01 Burkina Faso Tel: [226] 50 30 68 80 (Switchboard)/ [226] 50 31 00 55 (Direct line) Fax: [226] 50 31 67 37

NOTE: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying Burkina Faso as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or, 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. For more information, read about Transition Cases. The Hague Adoption Convention entered in force in Burkina Faso on May 1, 1996.

The Process

Because Burkina Faso is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Burkina Faso must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child by authorities in Burkina Faso
  4. Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
  5. Adopt (or Obtain Legal Custody) of child in Burkina Faso
  6. Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home

1.Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider:

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Burkina Faso is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved adoption service providers act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt:

After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Burkina Faso as part of your adoption dossier. Burkina Faso’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Burkina Faso’s law.

3. Be Matched with a Child in Burkina Faso:

If both the United States and Burkina Faso determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the Central Authority in Burkina Faso has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Central Authority may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Burkina Faso. The Central Authority will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the Central Authority in Burkina Faso. Learn more about this critical decision.

4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption:

After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.

After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Burkina Faso. A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.

WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the Burkina Faso Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Burkina Faso where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform Burkina Faso’s Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.

Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Burkina Faso before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.

Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child's eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

5. Adopt (or Obtain Legal Custody) of Child in Burkina Faso:

Remember: Before you adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Burkina Faso, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant custody for the purposes of adoption in Burkina Faso.

The process for finalizing the adoption or obtaining legal custody in Burkina Faso generally includes the following:

  • Role of The Adoption Authority: The Central Authority adjudicates all adoption applications and identifies eligible children. When the prospective adoptive parents agree to a proposed match, the Central Authority prepares a document formalizing the agreement to pursue the adoption procedure known as the Article 16 Report. If the biological parents of the child are known, a consent act must be included in the file. Alternatively, a family council report or an act of abandonment will be included when applicable. The Article 16 Report is given to the local representative of the accredited agency to forward to the prospective adoptive parents. The Article 16 Report must be issued and accepted before the adoption court hearing or the adoption will not be recognized by the authorities of Burkina Faso. After the adoption procedure is finalized in court and all necessary adoption documents have been issued by the Central Authority, at least one adoptive parent must travel to Burkina Faso to collect the child. There is a four-day mandatory stay in the institution where the child is living which constitutes the mandatory bonding period, after which the adoptive parent(s) must appear at the Central Authority to finalize paperwork. In certain cases, the Central Authority may determine that an extended bonded period is required.
  • Role of the Court: After making a commitment to adopt the child, the prospective adoptive parents hire a lawyer in Burkina Faso to follow the procedure in court. The Central Authority forwards the completed file to the tribunal where the child resides or to the main tribunal in Ouagadougou. Once the file is received, the court contacts a notary to establish an act of adoption. This act of adoption is sent to the institution that is responsible for the welfare of the child to sign and then forwarded to the Central Authority for final signature. There is a three-month waiting period after the Act is signed before the court announces the final adoption. One month after the adoption is final, copies of the judgment and the certificate of non-appeal are sent to the Central Authority which issues the “Certificat de Conformité” and the authorization to leave the country. The Central Authority is unable to issue the “Certificat de Conformité” and the authorization to leave the country unless all conditions are met. These documents can only be given to the adoptive parents when they get to Burkina Faso.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: Accredited adoption agencies may have fully accredited representatives in Burkina Faso who act on behalf of prospective adoptive parents. They liaise with the local adoption authorities, the lawyer (when there is one), and the court on behalf of the prospective adoptive parents. The adoption agency will also liaise with the Embassy to collect the Article 5 Letter, and start the visa application process pending receipt of the final court decision and other official travel documents from the Central Authority. They are also in contact with the orphanage, nursery, or family hosting the adoptive child.
  • Time Frame: It takes about 12 months from the time the prospective adoptive parents submit their initial application until they receive custody of their child. It takes six months or more for the case to be finalized in court. Finalization includes the final adoption decree, the issuance of child’s new birth certificate, the issuance of the “Certificat de Conformité,” and the authorization for the child to leave the country. Generally, the child is placed in the prospective adoptive parents’ care once matched. If the adoptive parents are not present in Burkina Faso, the child is placed with a host family or in an orphanage. Adoption cases may take longer when not properly followed up with the court. The Central Authority maintains a list of local lawyers, and encourages adoptive parents to find legal representation. After the adoption procedure is finalized in court, at least one adoptive parent must travel to Burkina Faso to collect the child. The adoptive parent(s) should plan to be in Burkina Faso for at least 10 to 15 business days to finalize the adoption process. This includes the mandatory bonding time, completion of paperwork at the Central Authority, and the visa process which may take up to three business days.
  • Adoption Application: Prospective adoptive parents should understand that there are two kinds of adoptions available in Burkina Faso. For U.S. immigration purposes, the “full” adoption option is the only one that can confer immigrant status to an adopted child. A “simple” adoption – one which gives a biological parent the right to revoke the adoption at any time – does not meet the requirements established by U.S. immigration law for issuing visas to adopted orphans. U.S. citizens may submit adoption applications in Burkina Faso through accredited adoption agencies authorized to work in Burkina Faso and who supervise a representative in Burkina Faso acting on their behalf. Applications are evaluated based on:
1. The family’s ability to provide financial support;
2. The findings of a social and psychological report on the prospective adoptive parents;
3. The family’s motivations and their attitude towards adoption;
4. The marital status, age, and state of health of the adoptive parents;
5. The point of view and welfare of existing children in the adoptive family;
6. The size of the family; preference is given to families with no children;
  • Adoption Fees: In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process. Some of the fees specifically associated with adoption from Burkina Faso include:
1. Medical exam: compulsory tests include hepatitis A and B, HIV, blood and sickle cells detection. All medical exam expenses are born by the prospective adoptive parents;
2. Food allowance: 100,000 CFA (approximately 200 USD) per month and per child. This amount is payable from the time the adoptive family commits themselves to adopting the child. Payment is made directly to the financial department of the private or public institution hosting the child. Once matched, prospective adoptive parents are responsible for all medical and maintenance fees, including the cost of transportation and hospitalization of the child;
3. Expenses of lawyers’ and notary services;
4. Fees for home study conducted on the child: 150,000 CFA (approximately 300 USD);
5. Initial filing fee: 26,500 CFA (approximately 65 USD) per file. The payment receipt must be included when submitting adoption application;
6. Case processing fees by the Central Authority once the child is identified: 100,000 CFA (approximately 200 USD);
7. Stamps: 5,000 CFA (approximately 10 USD) for each application.

The Department of State discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted that may be requested from prospective adoptive parents. Such fees have the appearance of buying a baby, may be contrary to the Convention and U.S. law, and put all future adoption in Burkina Faso at risk.

  • Documents Required: Only certified copies of these documents are acceptable to the Burkinabe authorities.
1. Two motivation letters stamped with 5,000 FCFA revenue stamps (available at the local mayor's office), one addressed to the Chief Judge of the court in Ouagadougou and the other to the Ministry of Social Affairs, explaining in detail the motivation for adopting, and specifying the profile of the child they would like to adopt;
2. A marriage certificate for the couple showing that they have been married for more than five years;
3. A copy of the family book (official record of spouse, children) when/if available;
4. Proof of residence;
5. Proof of income;
6. Birth certificate for each prospective parent;
7. An approved I-800A form from U.S. authorities;
8. Medical documents certifying that both prospective adoptive parents are physically and psychologically healthy;
9. A home study report done by a social services agency of the adoptive parents habitual residence;
10. A certificate of nationality (when it applies);
11. A statement that the prospective adoptive parents have received more than 10 hours of training as specified by Hague 96.48 (this document is normally prepared by the adoption service provider);
12. A commitment to send a report twice a year during the first two years of adoption and then once a year until the child turns 18;
13. Police certificates for both prospective adoptive parents; and,
14. A copy of the first two pages of both prospective parents' passports;

NOTE: Additional documents may be requested.

  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. Is so, the Department of State, Authentications office may be able to assist. Read about Authenticating U.S. Documents. The United States and Burkina Faso are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents may be authenticated with Apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority.

NOTE: Burkina Faso requires that every document submitted in relation with an adoption application be translated into French and authenticated.

6.Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home:

Now that your adoption is complete or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purpose of adopting the child in the United there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

1. Birth Certificate

If you have finalized the adoption in Burkina Faso you will firstneed to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport. If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the Unites States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.

The lawyer or adoption service provider (in cases where no lawyer has been hired) will obtain a copy of the judgment to request the issuance of a new birth certificate. In Burkina Faso, birth certificates are issued by the local mayor's office (the "Mairie") and cost 300 CFA (75 cents) per document. The new birth certificate will bear the child’s new name (as amended by adoptive parents).

2. Burkina Faso Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Burkina Faso. Passports are issued by the Ministry of Security's "Division de la Migration" upon presentation of the child's birth certificate with name changes, and the adoption decree. The passport costs 50,000 CFA (approximately 100 USD) and is issued in approximately three to seven business days.

3. U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso Country. After the adoption or custody for purpose of adoption is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, final approval of Form I-800, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. 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 child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.

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. Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

Post-Adoption/Post–Placement Reporting Requirements

When the adoption procedure is completed and the child joins the adoptive family, a periodic follow-up on the integration of the child in the family must be done by the competent social services of the child's place of residence. This is a post-placement requirement by the Government of Burkina Faso. The adoptive parents must submit post-adoption reports on the child twice a year during the first two years following adoption and once a year until the child turns 18. The reports are submitted to the Office of Placements and Adoptions at the Ministry of Social Affairs and National Solidarity.

We strongly urge you to comply with Burkina Faso's post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country's history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen adoptive parents.

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