Adopting from Madagascar
Hague Convention Information
Madagascar is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore all adoptions between Madagascar and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.
The Government of Madagascar has ratified the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. A new adoption law in Madagascar went into effect in 2007, which closely follows Hague Convention processing requirements. Practical implementation of the new law is still being tested as cases work their way through the system. Therefore, prospective adoptive parents are advised to read the below requirements, particularly regarding timing of documents required in the initial application, and follow developments closely.
Adoptive parents are advised to follow legal adoption procedures carefully. Madagascar adheres strictly to the law. Prospective adoptive parents are also advised that Madagascar has two adoption processes: simple adoption and plenary adoption. Only international plenary adoption, involving a long and sometimes difficult legal process, is recognized by both Madagascar and the United States as valid for intercountry adoption. Simple adoption, involving the mayor of the town where the child is located, is not a valid adoption for U.S. visa or Malagasy passport purposes.
NOTE: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Learn more.
Who Can Adopt
Adoption between the United States and Madagascar is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Madagascar, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Madagascar also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
Under Malagasy law, once the case moves from the administrative to the judicial phase, at least one of the adoptive parents must come to Madagascar and live with, or otherwise become familiar with the child for a one-month probationary period. After the end of this period, the final court proceedings will take place, and one parent will need to be present for these as well. The adoption is not final until these proceedings are complete, and the child will not be able to receive a passport or a visa until after the end of the court proceedings. Although the new law imposes several specific time requirements that govern the timing of each step in the process. However, past experience under the old law suggests these time periods could be much longer. Under the old law, cases often took four to six months or longer after the probationary period.
Age of Adopting Parents
At least one spouse must be over the age of 30 to adopt in Madagascar.
Only married heterosexual couples can adopt in Madagascar. If either spouse dies before the adoption is finalized, the process will be terminated.
The couple can have no more than three other children, either biological or adopted.
They must possess good moral character and demonstrate the means to care for the physical and educational needs of the child.
They must agree to keep the Malagasy Central Authority informed, through regular written reports, of the child's well-being, and progress in integrating until the child reaches age 18.
Who Can Be Adopted
Because Madagascar is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Madagascar must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Madagascar attempt to place a child with a family in Madagascar before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Malagasy requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.
How to Adopt
Malagasy Adoption Authority
The Malagasy Central Authority is coordinated by the Director of the Protection of the Family and Children (le Directeur de la Protection de la Famille et de l'Enfance) under the Ministry of Health and Family Planning and Social Protection (Ministère en charge de la Santé, du Planning Familial et de la Protection Sociale)
Because Madagascar is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Madagascar must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.
NOTE: If you filed your I-600a with Madagascar before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more.
- Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be Matched with a Child
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
- Adopt the Child in Madagascar
- Bring your Child Home
1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:
The first step in adopting a child from Madagascar is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Madagascar. Learn more.
Adoption in Madagascar is governed by the Malagasy law on adoption. This law requires parents to use an adoption agency accredited by the Central Authority of their country of residence or nationality. Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services.
Most prospective adoptive parents also choose to hire a Malagasy attorney to assist with the judicial phase of the process. For a list of attorneys in Madagascar, adoptive parents may contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo at ConsAntan@state.gov.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:
After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
Once the U.S. government determines that you are "eligible" and "suitable" to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Madagascar. Madagascar's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Malagasy law.
3. Be Matched with a Child:
If both the United States and Madagascar determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Madagascar may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.
After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application for to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa inelegibilities. If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify the Malagasy adoption authority (Article 5 letter). For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place.
Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
5. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Madagascar:
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Madagascar, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Madagascar.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Madagascar generally includes the following:
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The Malagasy Central Authority, coordinated by the Director of the Protection of the Family and Children (le Directeur de la Protection de la Famille et de l'Enfance) under the Ministry of Health and Family Planning and Social Protection (Ministère en charge de la Santé, du Planning Familial et de la Protection Sociale), oversees international plenary adoptions in Madagascar.
- TIME FRAME: Under the prior Malagasy law, the process commonly took two to three years. The new Malagasy law promises a faster process, and Malagasy authorities informally estimate a year. Until cases are brought under the new law and processed to completion, however, it is difficult to predict how streamlined the new process actually is.
- ADOPTION APPLICATION: The U.S. Embassy has been provided with the following as general information regarding Malagasy adoption procedures. Note that while the below time requirements are written into Malagasy law, there is no mechanism to enforce these limits:
- A. The prospective adoptive parents or the adoption agency sends the dossier of required documents to the U.S. Central Authority for forwarding to Madagascar via the Embassy of Madagascar in the U.S who in turn will transmit it to the Malagasy Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Important note: After the ratification of the Hague Convention by the American Government, the Office of Children's Issues will serve the function of the U.S. Central Authority.
- B. The dossier is routed to the Malagasy Central Authority (MCA);
- C. The MCA reviews the dossier to ensure it meets the technical standards;
- D. Once the dossier is deemed technically complete, it is reviewed by the MCA to determine if it will be approved. Once approved by the MCA, the MCA will choose a child, under the age of 12, to be offered to the adoptive parents. Note: Under Malagasy law, the adoptive parents do not choose the child. However, with Plenary International Adoption it is possible to adopt a specific child if there is a genuine family relationship, and proof of such a relationship;
- E. Once the child has been identified, the MCA will prepare a dossier on the child and send it to the prospective adoptive parents;
- F. The prospective adoptive parents are given six months to review the dossier and accept or reject the child;
- G. If the parents accept the child, they send an acceptance package to the U.S. Central Authority for transmission to Madagascar;
- H. Within two months, the MCA reports the case to the court and gives the court a favorable recommendation of the case;
- I. The court case is opened;
- J. The court orders a one month probationary period for one or both parents to get to know the child in Madagascar;
- K. Before the end of the probationary period, the judge will set the hearing date, which will occur during the probationary period. The hearing requires their presence with the child;
- L. Once the hearing date is set, the file is sent to the prosecutor's office to complete required paperwork within three days;
- M. The hearing is held, at which the child, if capable of participating, participates; and a preliminary decision announced in open court;
- N. The written judgment is issued within 5 days, beginning a one-month objection period;
- O. The written decision is passed to the Civil Register of the child's place of birth to be noted on the child's birth registration;
- P. The child is then entitled to a copy of the birth certificate showing the adoption, a passport, and is eligible to apply for the necessary visa.
- ADOPTION FEES: In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process. The U.S. Embassy in Madagascar discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted, "donations," or "expediting" fees, that may be requested from prospective adoptive parents. Such fees have the appearance of "buying" a baby and put all future adoptions in Madagascar at risk. The government of Madagascar imposes a fee of 800 Euros (approximately $1,185 at current exchange rates), which goes to pay the expenses of caring for the child during the adoption proceedings as well as the costs of the Malagasy Central Authority. If additional living expenses are incurred during the adoption proceedings, additional fees may be charged. Attorney's fees, should the adoptive parents' choose to hire a local attorney, are additional, as are U.S. visa fees.
- DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: The initial dossier requires the following documents:
- 1. A written request to adopt in Madagascar, with notarized signatures of both parents;
- 2. Photos of the family in their everyday life;
- 3. A signed contract with an accredited adoption agency;
- 4. A social and psychological report prepared by an accredited agency. The home study fulfills this requirement;
- 5. A certified copy of the Livret d'Famille (family book). As this document does not exist in the U.S., in place of it the parents can submit a certified copy of their marriage certificate and certified copies of the birth certificates of each of their children;
- 6. A certified copy of the marriage certificate;
- 7. A certified birth certificate for each spouse;
- 8. A police certificate for each spouse, from their place of residence;
- 9. A certificate of nationality for each spouse. As this document is unusual in the U.S., certified copies of each spouse's passport, valid for at least six months form the date the dossier is submitted, can be submitted instead;
- 10. Pay receipts for each spouse and/or the spouse's tax return;
- 11. A certificate of morality from each employed spouse's employer. This is a recommendation letter from the employer testifying to the employee's good character;
- 12. A certificat de bonne vie et moeurs (certificate of good citizenship) from the city or state government. As this document is not available in the U.S., Malagasy authorities have stated they will accept the approved home study;
- 13. Medical certificates for both spouses noting they are both healthy enough to adopt; and
- 14. A plain copy of U.S. Embassy Antananarivo Diplomatic Note 559 of September 13, 2007, available from the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo. This copy is requested by the Malagasy Central Authority so they will accept the substitutions for the livret de famille, certificate of nationality, and the certificat de bonne vie et moeurs.
All documentation listed above, with the exception of the passport, the contract with the adoption agency, and the diplomatic note, must be no more than six months old at the time of filing. All documents except the diplomatic note must be originals or certified copies. All documents not in French must be accompanied by a certified or official translation. Five copies of the dossier must also be submitted. If the parents accept the proposed child, the acceptance package must include:
- 1. A letter of acceptance of the adoption with the notarized signatures of both parents;
- 2. An agreement to send a report on the child's integration into the family and the U.S. every six months during the first year after adoption, and thereafter every year until the child reaches 18;
- 3. A request for adoption addressed to the president of the Tribunal de première instance of the residence of the child, dated, signed and notarized by both parents;
- 4. If only one parent will be present in Madagascar throughout the probationary period and adoption proceedings, a power of attorney form the absent parent.
Again all documents must be in French or accompanied by a certified or official translation. Before traveling to Madagascar for the probationary period, each traveling parent will need to have:
- 1. A passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of arrival in Madagascar. In addition, if the parent will be transiting South Africa to or from Madagascar, the passport will need to have at least two completely blank visa pages for each entry into South Africa;
- 2 A Malagasy visa. Because of the high possibility the process could take longer than 60 days, adoptive parents should request an extendable visa from a Malagasy Embassy or Consulate in the United States prior to their trip. While available, airport visas issued upon arrival in Madagascar are not extendable and could expire before the process is complete. Without a valid visa, American Citizens are not permitted to leave Madagascar and are subject to arrest, imprisonment and deportation.
- 3. Although not required, each traveling parent is urged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo at https://travelregistration.state.gov prior to their trip or in person after their arrival.
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. 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 three 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. Malagasy Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Madagascar.
- 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, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-800 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.
All immigrant visas, including visas for adopted children, are processed at the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo. All adoptions must be full and complete adoptions and must severe the parental relationship between the biological parent(s) and the adoptive child.
Upon arrival in Madagascar, the prospective adoptive parent should contact the Consular Section of the Embassy at 22-212-57 for information on processing procedures and requirements for the immigrant visa.
NOTE: Visa issuance after the final interview now 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. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times at the appropriate consulate or embassy before making final travel arrangements.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.
Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Madagascar. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports. Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print-all in one place.
Obtaining Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Madagascar, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Madagascar, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you. Registration is free and can be done online.
Intercountry Adoption, Bureau of Consular Affairs. U.S. Department of State Country Information