How to Adopt from Eritrea

The Eritrean highlands.

Adoption Authority

Eritrea’s Adoption Authority

Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare

The Process

The process for adopting a child from Eritrea 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 [or obtain custody of] the child in Eritrea
  5. Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
  6. Bring your child home

1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Eritrea 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 authorized adoption agencies in Eritrea. However, the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare facilitates and oversees both domestic and intercountry adoptions.

If there is a request regarding an intercountry adoption, the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare assists with the processing and obtaining documentation regarding the adoption. In the event prospective adoptive parents wish to consult an attorney, a list of attorneys can be obtained from the U.S. Embassy in Asmara website. Neither the U.S. Embassy nor the Department of State can vouch for qualifications of attorneys on this list.

2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

In order to adopt a child from Eritrea, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Eritrea and U.S. immigration law. You must submit an application to be found eligible to adopt with the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare of Eritrea.

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 Eritrea 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 Eritrea’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.

4. Adopt or Obtain Legal Custody of Child in Eritrea

The process for finalizing the adoption (or obtaining legal custody) in Eritrea generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: The Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare facilitates and oversees both domestic and intercountry adoptions involving children in Eritrea. The Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare signs the adoption contract as the guardian for the children, and verifies that prospective adoptive parents satisfy the conditions for adoption.

  • Adoption Application: Most children in orphanages are “abandoned” children, meaning they have no living parents or relatives to care for them. The Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare has custody of abandoned children and the authority to place these children with prospective adoptive parents. In these cases, the application is made to the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare. However, some children residing in orphanages also have surviving parent(s) and/or distant relatives. For such children, as well as for adoptions conducted directly between the birth relatives and the prospective adoptive parents, the application can be made to any court before proceeding to the High Court for final approval of the adoption contract.

  • Adoption Fees: Under Eritrean law prospective adoptive parents are required to retain an attorney for adoption proceedings. Adoption fees paid to the attorney vary. There is no specific fee for filing an adoption application with the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare. In private contracts, the parties may be required to pay service fee to the person who prepared the contract, which normally does not exceed $70. This amount may be larger if the contract is drafted by a lawyer. The court fee is nominal, at present $2. The fee to obtain the birth certificate may not exceed $7. If the adoptive child is younger than 18, the passport fee is $200. If the child is 18 or older, the fee is $270.

  • Documents Required: The following are required documents:

1. A written statement from the prospective adoptive parents explaining why an Eritrean child is preferred;

2. Original birth certificate(s) of the prospective adoptive parent(s);

3. Original marriage license/certificate, if applicable. NOTE: If originals are not available, certified copies must be authenticated in the United States;

4. An original Eritrean police clearance for each of the prospective adoptive parent(s) including those residing outside Eritrea;

5. A medical certificate/clearance for each of the prospective adoptive parent(s);

6. An original home study prepared by a qualified social worker, which specifies the following:

a. Personal and family status;
b. Character and personal qualities;
c. Educational background;
d. Duration and stability of marriage;
e. Financial and medical situations;
f. Present address and U.S. address;
g. Condition of home in country of residence;
h. Address and names of family of origin (i.e., parents); and
i. The agency's recommendation regarding the prospective adopting parent(s) suitability as an adoptive parent with an original translation into Tigrigna.

NOTE: The agency that conducts the home study and issues the recommendation must have approval to do so in the parents' state of residence. If adoptive parents establish residency in Eritrea, they may submit an Eritrean home study instead;

7. Evidence of economic status, which must include a letter from prospective adoptive parents' employer showing salary, date of employment, position in the organization and a bank statement. Proof of life insurance and health insurance, and other proof of income or assets may also be submitted;

8. Three letters of reference from friends, relatives, church, or other sources qualified to assess prospective adoptive parents' character, the stability of their marriage, and their ability to parent;

9. Two passport-size photographs of the prospective adoptive parent(s);

10. If the prospective adoptive parent(s) do not come to Eritrea together to oversee this entire process, then they must execute a power of attorney for their adoption agency. If only one parent will travel to Eritrea, the other parent must execute a power of attorney for him/her. That power of attorney must be authenticated by the Eritrean Embassy in Washington, D.C. This applies to all prospective adopting parents living in the U.S. - Eritrean nationals and non-Eritreans alike.

11. "Obligation of Adoption or Social Welfare Agency" signed by the adoption agency handling the adoption, or, for private adopters, from the organization that provided the home study, or by the parents' employer, in which the parent(s) agree to allow follow-up visits by a U.S. social worker, and to submit regular progress report to the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare on the child's (or children's) adjustment to/development in the adoptive home. These visits should be scheduled three months, six months, and one year after the adoption and annually thereafter until the child reaches 18. This form must be forwarded together with the psychosocial study/home study and an original translation into Tigrigna, by either the parents or the adoption agency; and

12. Verification by the adoption agency or home study organization on the child's qualification for naturalization under the laws of the parents' country of residence with an original translation into Tigrigna. 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. If so, the Department of State, Authentications Office may be able to assist.

5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status

After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Eritrea, 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.

6. Bring Your Child Home

Once your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), 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:

1. Birth Certificate

If you have finalized the adoption in Eritrea, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate. In the case of parents who have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting a child in the United States, the birth child’s certificate may not include the adoptive parents’ names. Adoptive parents may apply for a birth certificate in Eritrea by submitting a request to the Municipality of the child’s residence.

If the request is made within 90 days of the child’s birth, the Municipality will issue the birth certificate automatically.

If the request is made after 90 days, the family must go to the zonal administration of their district with the support of three witnesses to request approval for the issuance of a birth certificate. After approval, the Administration will give applicants a sealed envelope with the biographic information to be delivered to the municipality. Based on the data, the municipality will issue the birth certificate.

2. Eritrea Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Eritrea.

At least one adoptive parent must be of Eritrean origin and hold an Eritrean identity card. If neither adoptive parent meets this requirement, even if a legal adoption has been completed, the local administrative zone will not issue a passport to the child. The biological parents will need to apply for the passport, or in the cases of abandoned and orphaned children, the U.S. Consular Officer processing the Immigrant Visa must request authorization for a passport waiver or travel letter from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

3. U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the United States Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya (as all visa services are closed in Eritrea). 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.

You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya website. The consular section can also be reached at (254) (020)-3753705 or (020)-363-6492.

To learn about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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