How to Adopt from Lebanon
There is no general civil adoption authority. Since adoption is overseen by religious institutions in Lebanon, they must be supervised by religious authorities and must be approved by these authorities and relevant religious courts. As a result, Lebanese governmental agencies do not get involved in registering the adoption, changing the child’s name, and issuing a Lebanese passport until after the religious body has approved the adoption.
The process for adopting a child from Lebanon 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 Lebanon
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
- Bring Your Child Home
1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
The first step in adopting a child from Lebanon is usually to select a licensed agency in the United States that can help with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate.
There are no adoption agencies in Lebanon. Churches and church officials care for abandoned children but may not always have the legal expertise to process an adoption. Attorneys who specialize in family law usually handle adoption cases.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
To bring an adopted child from Lebanon to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-600A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
In addition to meeting the U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, you need to meet the requirements of Lebanon as described in the Who Can Adopt section. The adoption shall be for valid reasons and in the interest of the child.
3. Be Matched with a Child
If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Lebanon 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.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Lebanon's requirements, as described in the Who Can be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law. Learn more.
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The religious court will investigate the case, which entails proof of the good moral reputation of the prospective adoptive parent(s) and financial support for the child. If the court does not find any grounds for objection to adoption, the court will issue a decree confirming the adoption. The court's final decision on the adoption must be affirmed by the bishop of the same relevant jurisdiction.
- ROLE OF THE COURT: To be valid, the adoption decree must be granted exequatur, or endorsed, by the Civil Courts Enforcement Bureau. The adoption decree must then be submitted to the Lebanese Bureau of Vital Statistics so that the civil status of the adopted child can be amended in the registry book.
- ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: There are no adoption agencies in Lebanon. Attorneys who specialize in family law usually handle adoption cases.
- ADOPTION APPLICATION: The adoption request must be submitted to the presiding judge of the religious court of the community to which the child belongs.
- TIME FRAME: Intercountry adoption process in Lebanon ranges from four months to one year to complete.
- ADOPTION FEES: The following is a list of adoption fees in Lebanon:
- 1. Fees vary among confessions, and sometimes among sects within a particular confession, and are subject to change.
- DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: The following documents must be attached to the request for adoption filed before the religious court:
- 1. Photocopy of the ID of the prospective parents(s) and the adopted child.
- 2. Certificate of good behavior. This certificate must be issued by the priest (or bishop) of the church where prospective adoptive parents belong.
- 3. A medical report stating the reasons of not having children. This is mandatory for the Orthodox Church and is based on the idea that the prospective adoptive parents are not be able to have their own biological children.
- 4. A home study report done by the reliable authority or agency (depending on the nationality of the parents) about the prospective parent(s)' social situation and financial status. The same study submitted with the I-600A may be used.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help.
5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Lebanon, the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) MUST determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted (Form I-600). Learn how.
6. 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:
- 1. Birth Certificate
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. The adoption decree must accompany the application for a Lebanese identity card and the birth certificate. The child will take the family name of the adoptive parents and your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
The adoption decree must accompany the application for a Lebanese identity card and the birth certificate.
NOTE: The modification of the surname is subject to the civil court's jurisdiction. If the child is less than five years old, the change of the surname is easily awarded. Approval of the institution or organization where the child was found may be sometimes required. If the child is more than six years old, reference to the former surname will always appear on official documents along with the new surname of the child.
- 2. Lebanon Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Lebanon. After the identity card is issued, an application for a Lebanese passport must be submitted at the Lebanese Passport Office in Beirut.
- 3. U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted and a travel document has been obtained from the Lebanese government, visit the U.S. Embassy for final review and approval of the child’s I-600 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. 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. The adoptive parents and the child must be present at the interview. If everything is in order, the visa will be issued within the next two working days Learn about the Medical Examination.
The adoptive parents must present the following documents:
- A. Proof of U.S. citizenship (passport valid for at least five years at the time of issuance or naturalization certificate, or birth certificate, if born in the U.S.),
- B. Petitioner's and the child's passports, and
- C. $404.00 USD (cash) or the equivalent in Lebanese pounds (cash).
For further information, adoptive parents may send a fax to 04-543498 or send an email to BeirutIV@state.gov. Replies will be sent within three working days.
To learn about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
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