How to Adopt from Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Ministry of Gender and Family
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Social Affairs, Division of Urban Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Interior and Security, General Direction of Migration
The process for adopting a child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo generally includes the following steps:
- Choose an adoption service provider
- Apply to be found eligible to adopt
- Be matched with a child
- Adopt the child in the democratic republic of the congo
- Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
- Bring your child home
1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
The recommended first step in adopting a child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo is to decide whether or not to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States that can help you with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. The Department of State provides information on selecting an adoption service provider on its website.
There are no adoption agencies authorized to provide services in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, many U.S.-based adoption agencies work with specific local representatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Orphanages must be licensed or accredited by the Congolese government. It is customary and accepted practice to engage Congolese lawyers to carry out adoption proceedings. Attorneys licensed to practice in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are automatically accredited to provide adoption services by virtue of their profession. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa maintains a list of attorneys on its website who have expressed a willingness to work with U.S. citizens. This list does not imply an endorsement of specific attorneys by the Embassy or any guarantee of the quality of the services they may provide.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and U.S. immigration law. Prospective adoptive parents need to seek adoption through a lawyer directly with the court. The Congolese portion of the process does not require U.S. prospective adoptive parents to fill out specific application forms when applying to the Tribunal pour Enfants to adopt a particular child. To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also file an I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be found eligible and suitable to adopt.
3. Be Matched with a Child
If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority or other authorized entity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will provide you with a referral. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of and provide a permanent home for a particular child. The child must be eligible to be adopted according to the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law. Prospective adoptive parents should know that, in the case of children who are Wards of the State, the “Guardianship Council” of the local government must first release the child for adoption.
- Ministry of Gender and Family: The Ministry of Gender and Family is the newest adoption authority for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Ministry is charged with the protection of minors and coordinates the creation of adoption policies. The Ministry of Gender and Family must also approve each adoption. Adoptive parents or their local representative may submit their case to the Ministry any time after the adoption decree (Acte d’Adoption) is issued by the Tribunal pour Enfants, although the Ministry generally encourages applicants to submit their dossier as soon as possible. Congolese immigration authorities will not issue an exit permit to allow the adopted child to depart the country unless the Ministry has approved the adoption.
- Ministry of Justice: The Ministry of Justice has jurisdiction over adoption court procedures. Individual cases are handled by the Tribunal pour Enfants in the region where a prospective adoptive child resides, or in the Tribunal pour Enfants in a neighboring jurisdiction or Kinshasa if a Tribunal pour Enfants does not exist in the region where the child resides. Congolese attorneys assisting with adoption cases should have current contacts at the appropriate courts.
- Ministry of Social Affairs, Division of Urban Affairs: The Ministry of Social Affairs is charged with the role of protection of “vulnerable children,” and oversees communes and social workers throughout the country. The local “commune,” or township, and its Guardianship Council create a child’s abandonment or relinquishment document, when appropriate, designate a child as a Ward of the State, and temporarily assign the child to foster care or an orphanage. The temporary guardianship is valid for only five days unless confirmed by the local Tribunal pour Enfants clerk. The Ministry also oversees the local L’Etat Civil, which maintains each commune’s birth and adoption records.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for certifying whether an adopted child is eligible for a Congolese passport, and for the passport’s issuance.
- Ministry of Interior and Security, General Direction of Migration: The Direction Generale d’Immigration (DGM) controls the departure of children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and seeks to prevent child trafficking. The DGM issues exit permits to children who qualify under local procedures to depart the country with their adoptive parents. Congolese immigration authorities will not issue the exit permit to allow the adopted child to depart the country without the Ministry of Gender and Family’s approval of the adoption. The DGM requires that both adoptive parents, if a child is adopted by a married couple, or the adoptive parent, if a child is adopted by a single individual, apply in person for the exit permit.
- Role of the Court: The Tribunal pour Enfants in each region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo holds exclusive jurisdiction over intercountry adoptions. Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that decrees issued by Tribunal de Paix will only be accepted if the area where the child resides does not yet have a Tribunal pour Enfants, and that the DGM will only issue exit permits to children adopted in Tribunal de Paix if the adoption was completed prior to June 12, 2013. To learn more about the role of the Tribunal pour Enfants, please read Tribunal pour Enfants Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- Time Frame: It can take from a minimum of three months to approximately one year to complete the adoption process from match proposal to filing the Certificate of Non-Appeal, although some cases can take considerably longer. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa estimates that it will take an additional three to six months to complete the case review and investigation once the Embassy receives the Form I-600 petition filed on behalf of a Congolese child.
- Adoption Fees: Court fees for an adoption case generally range between $200 and $250, a birth certificate between $20 and $50, a passport $170, and lawyer fees between $5,000 and $6,000. In addition to these fees, prospective adoptive parents may be expected to pay for the care and feeding of their child after the adoption is finalized and before the U.S. immigrant visa is issued.
5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status
After you finalize the adoption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.
In addition to the required supporting U.S. documents, adoptive parents filing the Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, for children adopted from the Democratic Republic of the Congo should present the following Congolese documents with the petition:
- Adoption judgment (Jugement d'Adoption): This is issued by the Tribunal pour Enfants in the child’s area.
- Act of Adoption, also known as the adoption decree (Acte d'Adoption): This is issued by the L’Etat Civil in the area where the child was born.
- Certificate of Non-Appeal: This is issued by the Magistrate in the child’s area or the Magistrate in the area where the Tribunal pour Enfants is located.
- Birth Certificate (Acte de Naissance): This is a birth registration that must be issued by the L’Etat Civil within 90 days of the child’s birth and which remains valid for the child’s lifetime. Please note that the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa requires the actual birth certificate or an official copy (Copie Integrale d’Acte de Naissance) for immigrant visa processing.
- Abandonment Report (Proces-Verbal de Constat D'Abandon d'un Enfant): The abandonment report is required if the child was abandoned by his/her biological parent(s). This report is completed by Social Services.
- Parental Authorization (Autorisation Parentale): The Authorization Parental is required when a biological parent is directly relinquishing his/her child for adoption and emigration.
- PV Tutelage Report: The PV Tutelage Report is the decree that documents that designates a child as a Ward of the State and eligible for adoption. This report is completed by the Guardianship Council where the child was born.
- Ward of the State Document (Attestation de Placement du Pupille de l'Etat): This document is required if the local government terminated the parental rights of the biological parent(s).
- Indigence Report (Attestation d'Indigence): The Indigence Report is often required when the adoptive child has known biological parent(s).
- Death Certificate (Acte de Deces): The Death Certificate is required when the adoptive child’s biological parent(s) passed away. Please note that the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa only accepts the legal death certificate produced by the local commune, not a hospital death certificate.
Please note that additional documents may be requested.
6. Bring Your Child Home
Once your adoption is complete, you need to apply for several documents for your child before you can apply for a U.S. immigrant visa to bring your child home to the United States.
Birth Certificate If you have finalized the adoption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate. To learn more about necessary documents to bring your child home please go to Final Documents for Adoption from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
To learn more about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.