Kenya and the Hague Convention

A tea plantation near Kericho in the Kenyan highlands.

Kenya is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Hague countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations, as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Kenya.

  • U.S. citizens who have lived in Kenya for fewer than three continuous years are prohibited from completing domestic adoptions in Kenya. Instead, they must complete Convention intercountry adoptions.
  • Prospective adoptive parents are prohibited from adopting children they have previously met, unless the child is a direct blood relative.
  • Only children who are at least two years old and declared eligible for adoption by a licensed Kenyan adoption society are eligible for intercountry adoption. Note: Children available for fostering in Kenya are generally in temporary need of care, and are usually not declared eligible for adoption. The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi strongly advises U.S. citizens living in Kenya against fostering children if their underlying intention is to adopt them.
  • Under Kenyan law, it is illegal to publish an advertisement indicating that a parent or guardian desires to place a child for adoption, that a person wishes to adopt a child, or that a person (who is not an adoption society) is willing to facilitate the adoption of a child.

NOTE: U.S. citizens who have been resident in Kenya for more than three years are encouraged to visit for more information on requirements for domestic adoptions in Kenya.

NOTE: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Read about Transition Cases.


To bring an adopted child to the United States from Kenya, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. law in order to immigrate to the United States on an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.

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