How to Adopt from Malaysia
Malaysian Adoption Authority
Family and Children’s Division, Social Welfare Department, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development
The process for adopting a child from Malaysia generally includes the following steps:
- Choose an adoption service provider
- Apply to be found eligible to adopt
- Be matched with a child
- Adopt [or gain custody of] the child in Malaysia
- 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 Malaysia 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 service providers in Malaysia. All adoption inquiries should be directed to the Family Services Division, Social Welfare Department, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from Malaysia, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Malaysia and U.S. immigration law. You must submit an application to be found eligible to adopt with the Family and Children’s Division, Social Welfare Department, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development of Malaysia.
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 if a child is available for intercountry adoption, the Family and Children’s Division, Social Welfare Department, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development in Malaysia may 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 Malaysia’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.
When adopting a non-Muslim child, prospective adoptive parents may identify a prospective adoptive child privately through friends or relatives in Malaysia or through the national Social Welfare Department. Once the prospective adoptive parents have identified a child, they must obtain a statutory declaration (notarized affidavit) from the biological parent(s) relinquishing all parental rights of the child. (The affidavit is waived if the biological parents cannot be found, or if they have abandoned the child.) The prospective adoptive parents notify the Social Welfare Department of the Malaysian State in which they are resident of their intention to apply for an Adoption Order for the child. If the Social Welfare Department identified the child, an "offer" letter will be issued to the prospective adoptive parents. This notification must be in writing. Regardless of how the child was identified, the prospective adoptive parent(s) must have been “ordinarily resident” in Malaysia at the time they file the petition with the Sessions or High Court, and must continue to reside with and care for the child in Malaysia for not less than three consecutive months afterwards.
When adopting a Muslim child, prospective adoptive parents may identifya prospective adoptive child privately or through the national Social Welfare Department. The prospective adoptive parents must obtain a statutory declaration (notarized affidavit) from the biological parent(s) relinquishing all parental rights towards the child. The statutory declaration (notarized affidavit) is not necessary if the biological parents cannot be found or if they have abandoned the child.
- Role of Adoption Authority: When adopting a non-Muslim child, the national Social Welfare Department is responsible for providing a court-appointed guardian to investigate and report on the background and circumstances of the child and the prospective adoptive parents, including the financial and emotional stability of the family and whether there was financial compensation involved in the adoption and, if so, if it was in the best interests of the child. The guardian’s finalreport is submitted to the Sessions or High Court on the day of the hearing. When adopting a Muslim child, the National Registration Department is the relevant authority able to register an adopted child (see additional information below).
- Role of the Court: The Sessions or High Court is the primary authority on adoptions of non-Muslim children, as it issues the final Adoption Order that transfers guardianship, custody, and all rights and obligations to the child to the prospective adoptive parents. The Court may either issue an Adoption Order or an Interim Order, which awards custody of the child to the adoptive parent(s) for a probationary period of six months to two years, subject to provisions for the maintenance, education, and supervision of the welfare of the child.
- The Adoption Order legally allows the National Registration Department to change the child’s birth certificate, replacing the names of the biological parents with those of the adopting parents. The Registrar of the Court sends a certified copy of the Adoption Order to the National Registration Department and to the adoptive parent(s) within seven days. The Registrar-General enters the Adoption Order in the Adopted Children Register. The Register entry serves as the child’s official record instead of the original birth certificate. The adoptive parent may apply for a certified copy of the entry in the Adopted Children Register through the Registrar-General.
- When adopting a Muslim child, a court petition is not required. The Muslim prospective adoptive parents apply directly to the National Registration Department to document the child as his/her adopted child. To qualify, the prospective adoptive parents must have resided with and had continuous custody of the child for a period of not less than two years. The application should include evidence relating to the care, maintenance, and education of the child during the two years from the date of the biological parents’ statutory declaration (notarized affidavit) relinquishing all parental rights of the child.
- If the National Registration Department is satisfied with the evidence submitted, an entry will be made in the Adopted Children Register and a certified copy of the entry delivered to the adoptive parents. If the Registration Department is not satisfied with the evidence, an officer from the national Social Welfare Department will conduct an investigation on the well-being of the child. Children adopted under the Registration of Adoptions Act cannot assume the name of or inherit property from the adoptive parents.
- Role of Adoption Agencies: There are no agencies in Malaysia. All adoption inquiries should be directed to the Family Services Division, Social Welfare Department, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.
- Adoption Application: When adopting non-Muslim children, local legal counsel will assist adoptive parents with filing a notice of intention to adopt with the national Social Welfare Department. The attorney may file an application for an Adoption Order with the Court (either Session or High) at that time. When adopting Muslim children, prospective adoptive parents may apply directly to the National Registration Department.
- Time Frame: Adoptions can take approximately eight months to two years or more, depending on fostering requirements.
- Adoption Fees: Adoption application fees are minimal and vary by region, but you must hire a local lawyer to process Adoption Orders through the Session or High Courts. Lawyers’ fees may range from RM2,000 (US$570) to RM10,000 (US$2,850) or more. For more information on how to obtain a list of lawyers in Malaysia, please email the U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur’s consular section at: KLconsular@state.gov.
- Documents Required: For adoptions of non-Muslim children, the prospective adoptive parents must present the following documents to the Malaysian Social Welfare Department under the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development:
- 1. His/her valid passport;
- 2. The original birth certificate of the adoptive child;
- 3. Statutory declaration (notarized affidavit) containing consent from the biological parent(s);
- 4. Marriage certificate from the prospective adoptive parent(s), if married; and
- 5. Notice letter to the Social Welfare Department stating the intention to adopt. 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 Malaysia, 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 been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.
After the Court issues the Adoption Order, the Register-General will issue (for a small fee) a new birth certificate that lists the names of the adoptive parents and makes no reference to the adoption. The adoptive parents must provide identification in order to obtain the birth certificate.
- 2. Malaysian Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Malaysia.
The adoptive parents may apply for a Malaysian passport for the child at any local immigration office. They must bring their U.S. passports and the child’s new birth certificate, along with other required items, in order to apply. The fee is 150 ringgit (approximately USD 50). For more information, see this website.
- 3. U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you have obtained the new birth certificate and passport for your child and 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 in Kuala Lumpur. 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.
The immigrant visa process involves complex Malaysian and U.S. legal requirements. U.S. consular officers give each petition careful consideration on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the legal requirements of both countries have been met, for the protection of the child, the adoptive parent(s), and the biological parents(s). Interested U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to contact U.S. consular officials in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia before formalizing an adoption or grant of custody to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed. This will help make it possible for the Embassy to issue a U.S. immigrant visa for the child.
Upon receipt of USCIS’ approval of a Form I-600 petition, or upon approving a Form I-600 petition filed directly with the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Embassy staff will contact the petitioners and provide additional instructions on the child’s immigrant visa application process. U.S. consular officers may not begin processing the child’s immigrant visa application until they have either approved a Form I-600 petition submitted directly to the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur or received formal notification of approval from USCIS.
NOTE: Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes 24 hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview.
You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur’s website.
To learn more about the Child Citizenship Act please read about The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
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