How to Adopt from Liberia
The Ministry of Justice
The process for adopting a child from Liberia 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 Liberia
- 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 Liberia 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. Learn more about choosing the right adoption service provider.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
To bring an adopted child from Liberia 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.
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 Liberia 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 Liberia'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: No adoption decree can be issued without an approved case summary from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MHSW).
- Role of the Court: A petition for adoption must be filed with the Probate Court. The petition must contain the name, age, residence and marital status of the petitioners. The name, date and place of birth of the child, the date and manner in which the petitioners acquired custody of the child, facts (if any) that render consent of either parent unnecessary, the petitioners' desire to adopt the child and the child's change of name, should also be contained in the petition. Upon receipt of a petition for adoption, the Court schedules a hearing and serves notice on all interested parties. The petitioners or their legal representative, the parent, parents, or guardian(s) of the child and the child are required to attend the hearing, though the court may waive the appearance of the child for good cause. This waiver must be stated in the order of adoption. All hearings are public, and held in open court. The court must be satisfied that the "moral and temporal interests" of the child will be satisfied by the adoption. Upon this showing, the adoption is ordered. The court must be satisfied that the "moral and temporal interests" of the child will be satisfied by the adoption. Upon this showing, the adoption is ordered.
- Role of Adoption Agencies: Most adoptive parents normally work with an adoption agency in the U.S., which in turn liaises with an orphanage or organization in Liberia prior to initiating the adoption process. The organization in Liberia must be registered with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
- Time Frame: There are no fixed time lines or constraints on the Court's processing of adoptions. The adoption process, including formal relinquishment by the parent(s) if necessary, generally takes 3 to 4 weeks. Since November 2007, prospective adoptive parents have experienced long delays, sometimes as long as 3 months in processing adoptions due to pending revision of the Liberian adoption law.
- Adoption Fees: Official Government fees for adoptions in Liberia are minimal and consist mainly of court filing fees. These filing fees are normally less than $12,000 USD. The cost of employing local counsel varies but adoptive parents can expect to pay several hundred dollars at a minimum for an attorney. Note: Liberia has proposed legislation that will increase fees for processing paper through the Courts and the Ministry of Justice for $5 to $1500 USD. These funds will be used to hire additional social workers and court clerks as well as for the general operation of both Ministries.
5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:
After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Liberia, 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. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
- 2. Liberian Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Liberia.
- 3. Exit Clearance
The Liberian Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization requires that adopted children leaving Liberia have an exit clearance letter issued by the Ministry of Jus ce. To receive this letter, you must show a valid visa for the child, and at least one adopting parent must meet with the representative of the Minister of Justice.
- 4. 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, visit the U.S Embassy in Monrovia 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.
Embassy Monrovia conducts immigrant visa interviews on Tuesdays and Thursdays between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (exceptions are sometimes made for cases involving special needs children). Adoption service providers and prospective parents may secure an appointment by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The adopted child must be physically present at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia at the time of the visa interview. Parents must present the following items:
- 1. The required immigrant visa fee in US dollar cash;
- 2. An original and one copy of the Adoption Decree from the Ministry of Justice;
- 3. An original and one copy of birth certificate for the adopted child;
- 4. Originals and one copy of documents provided as evidence the child is an orphan;
- 5. Medical exam completed by one of our panel physicians. If no vaccinations, signed affidavit by parents (for children under age 10);
- 6. Original form I-864 affidavit of support and a copy of the most recent Federal Tax Returns;
- 7. Original Power of Attorney for representative if parents are not physically present and if I-600 was filed with the USCIS;
- 8. Valid Liberian passport for the child and one copy of passport;
- 9. Two 2 inch by 2 inch front face photographs of the child with a white background.
After the petition has been filed, the consular section requires at least three weeks to conduct a mandatory I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption. Due to security concerns, consular staff is unable to conduct I-604 interviews in outlying areas of the country. In those cases, the birthparent(s) relinquishing parental custody will be requested to come to the Embassy for a personal interview with a consular officer. Birthparents relinquishing parental custody who live within the Monrovia city area, may also be requested to come in for a personal interview. Furthermore, DNA testing will be required for all cases in which consular staff cannot determine parentage by an interview.
Learn more about the immigrant visa process.
To learn more about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
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