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How to Adopt from Jamaica

Elementary school children.
Source: flickr.com.

Adoption Auhority

Jamaica’s Adoption Authority

The CDA is the only entity legally authorized to provide adoption services in Jamaica and prospective parents must work with this Jamaican government agency when seeking to adopt a child in Jamaica.

The Process

The process for adopting a child from Jamaica generally includes the following steps:


  1. Apply to be found eligible to adopt;
  2. Be matched with a child;
  3. Adopt [or gain custody of] the child in Jamaica;
  4. Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status;
  5. Bring your child home.


1. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

In order to adopt a child from Jamaica, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Jamaica and U.S. immigration law. You must first submit a pre-adoption application with the CDA to be found eligible to adopt in Jamaica. The pre-adoption application asks for detailed information on the prospective adoptive parents, which the CDA uses to assess the parents’ suitability to adopt under Jamaican law.

Prospective adoptive parents residing in the United States must also submit a home study report from an approved home study provider in the United States. The CDA verifies the contents of the prospective adoptive parentshome study by writing to the home study agency. This verifies home study authorship and obtains the home study agency's agreement to supervise the placement in the future.

Some prospective adoptive parents may choose to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States to help with the 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. However, in Jamaica, the CDA is the only agency legally authorized to provide adoption services.

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.


2. Be Matched with a Child

Once a prospective adoptive parent is found eligible to adopt from Jamaica, the CDA and the Adoption Board will assist in locating a child suitable for adoption. There are currently eight government child care facilities which the CDA directly manages and supports on behalf of the Government of Jamaica. The CDA also provides oversight and financial assistance to over 40 private homes. The CDA can assist in matching a prospective adoptive parent with a child from either a public or private home.

If the prospective adoptive parent has already identified a child they would like to adopt, the CDA will assess the child’s suitability for adoption. In all cases, the child must be eligible to be adopted according to Jamaica’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.


3. Adopt or Gain Legal Custody of Child in Jamaica

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

  • Role of Adoption Authority: Once the CDA conducts their assessment of the child’s suitability for adoption, the CDA report is forwarded to the independent Jamaican Adoption Board which decides whether the adoption should be approved. The Adoption Board reviews the CDA’s report on the child as well as information on the prospective adoptive parent.
  • Role of the Court: If the Jamaican Adoption Board approves the adoption, the case is sent to a family court which will review the relevant case facts and determine if the Adoption License or Adoption Order should be issued. In the Kingston, St. Andrew, Westmoreland, and St. James parishes, special Family Courts exercise jurisdiction over adoptions. In the remaining parishes, the local Resident Magistrate's Court supervises adoptions.
  • Time Frame: Prospective adoptive parents seeking an Adoption License can usually complete an adoption in Jamaica in four months. Those seeking an Adoption Order may need more time, as Jamaican adoption regulations require a locally placed child to be supervised by local social workers for at least three months. However, the court may waive the pre-adoption placement requirement if the prospective adoptive parents are Jamaican nationals adopting a relative.
  • Adoption Fees: Jamaica does not charge any fees for adoptions. However, each child is required to have an extensive physical before the child is found eligible for adoption by the Adoption Board. This is separate from the medical examination the child must undergo prior to obtaining an immigrant visa. Costs for the pre-adoption medical vary by physician, but can be up to $100 USD. Adoptive parents may have legal representation at the court proceeding, but most do not hire an attorney. Attorney fees will vary.
  • Documents Required: The following documents are required to obtain an Adoption License:


1. Application form (available from the CDA);
2. Home Study – If the prospective adoptive parents are not resident in Jamaica, they should provide a certified original home study plus two additional copies to the Jamaican Adoption Board. These can be sent by the home study provider or the prospective adoptive parent. (In most cases, this can be the same home study conducted in the United States for the Form I-600A or I-600.);
3. Medical Examination (examination of both the prospective adoptive parents and the child);
4. Letter of Undertaking - The agency that conducted the home study submits a letter agreeing to supervise the placement until a full and final adoption is complete, and beyond, as determined on a case-by-case basis by the CDA;
5. Bank Statement; and
6. Letter(s) from Employer(s) - The letter(s) should indicate the prospective adoptive parents’ annual income and the nature of employment.

The following documents are required to obtain an Adoption Order:


1. Application form (available from the CDA);
2. Home Study – If the prospective adoptive parents are not resident in Jamaica, they should provide a certified original home study plus two additional copies to the Jamaican Adoption Board. These can be sent by the home study provider or the prospective adoptive parent. (In most cases, this can be the same home study conducted in the United States for the Form I-600A or I-600.);
3. Medical Examination (examination of both the prospective adoptive parents and the child);
4. Income Statement;
5. Personal References (two); and
6. Letter of Undertaking – If the prospective adoptive parents are resident in Jamaica, they should provide a letter of undertaking by the Jamaican agency that conducted the home study to supervise placement. 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.


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

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


5. Bring Your Child Home

Once your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are several documents your child will require 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 received a full Adoption Order from a Jamaican court, you can obtain the actual order on security paper from the Jamaican Register General’s Department (RGD). Once an Adoption Order is issued, the child’s previous birth record is sealed and the Adoption Order issued by RGD replaces the original birth certificate.

If you have been granted an Adoption License, the birth certificate will not be amended to include your child’s new name or your name. Instead, you should obtain from the RGD the child’s original birth certificate, which lists the child’s birth parents. The Adoption License will list the same name as that on the child’s original birth certificate, as will the child’s Jamaican passport.

To obtain a Jamaican birth certificate, prospective adoptive parents apply with the Jamaican Registrar General's Department (RGD). Parents may apply in person at any RGD office in Jamaica or by mail, including from the United States, although this is more expensive. Prices also differ based on whether the applicant can provide the RGD with a birth record number and whether the applicant requests express service.

2. Jamaican Passport

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

The child must appear in person at the Jamaican Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) unless he or she is less than three years old. The cost of applying for a passport is $2700 Jamaican (about $30 USD) for children up to the age of 18, and $4500 Jamaican (about $50 USD) for those over 18. Two passport photos must be presented along with the Adoption Order or License.

If the adoptive parents have received a full Adoption Order, they must appear with the child for the passport application. If the adoptive parents have received an Adoption License, representatives from the CDA will assist in obtaining the child’s passport and, in most cases, will appear with the child for the passport application without the presence of the adoptive parents.

Passports generally take seven business days to be issued, though, for additional fees, passports can be issued in three business days, or the following business day. For additional information, please visit the PICA website.

There are two Passport Offices able to accept applications in Jamaica:

25 Constant Spring Road, Kingston 10 Tel: 876-754-4742;

Overton Plaza, 49 Union Street, Montego Bay Tel: 876-952-5380

3. U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain your child’s new birth certificate and passport 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 U.S. Embassy Jamaica. 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 [1] on the child.

Once the U.S. Embassy Jamaica receives the approved Form I-600 from USCIS, the embassy will contact the prospective adoptive parent via phone or email to schedule the immigrant visa interview and provide instructions on obtaining the immigrant visa medical exam. The cost of the immigrant visa medical examination is $55 USD for children under 15 years and $110 USD for applicants 15 years and older, not including the cost of any vaccine the child may need.

Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to email the embassy with any questions. The email addresses for the Immigrant Visa section are KingstonIV@state.gov and KingstonIVappointment@state.gov. You can also find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy Jamaica’s website.

NOTE: After the final interview visa issuance generally takes at least 24 hours, and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview. Please plan your travel accordingly.

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

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