Adopting from Somalia
The information contained on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Always seek the advice of a licensed and qualified professional. While the content of this website is frequently updated, information changes rapidly and therefore, some information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies, omissions or typographical errors.
Britain withdrew from British Somaliland in 1960 to allow its protectorate to join with Italian Somaliland and form the new nation of Somalia. In 1969, a coup headed by Mohamed SIAD Barre ushered in an authoritarian socialist rule characterized by the persecution, jailing, and torture of political opponents and dissidents. After the regime's collapse early in 1991, Somalia descended into turmoil, factional fighting, and anarchy. In May 1991, northern clans declared an independent Republic of Somaliland that now includes the administrative regions of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sanaag, and Sool. Although not recognized by any government, this entity has maintained a stable existence and continues efforts to establish a constitutional democracy, including holding municipal, parliamentary, and presidential elections.
The regions of Bari, Nugaal, and northern Mudug comprise a neighboring semi-autonomous state of Puntland, which has been self-governing since 1998 but does not aim at independence; it has also made strides toward reconstructing a legitimate, representative government but has suffered some civil strife. Puntland disputes its border with Somaliland as it also claims portions of eastern Sool and Sanaag. Beginning in 1993, a two-year UN humanitarian effort (primarily in the south) was able to alleviate famine conditions, but when the UN withdrew in 1995, having suffered significant casualties, order still had not been restored. In 2000, the Somalia National Peace Conference (SNPC) held in Djibouti resulted in the formation of an interim government, known as the Transitional National Government (TNG). When the TNG failed to establish adequate security or governing institutions, the Government of Kenya, under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), led a subsequent peace process that concluded in October 2004 with the election of Abdullahi YUSUF Ahmed as President of a second interim government, known as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of the Somali Republic. The TFG included a 275-member parliamentary body, known as the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP). President YUSUF resigned late in 2008 while United Nations-sponsored talks between the TFG and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) were underway in Djibouti.
In January 2009, following the creation of a TFG-ARS unity government, Ethiopian military forces, which had entered Somalia in December 2006 to support the TFG in the face of advances by the opposition Islamic Courts Union (ICU), withdrew from the country. The TFP was doubled in size to 550 seats with the addition of 200 ARS and 75 civil society members of parliament. The expanded parliament elected Sheikh SHARIF Sheikh Ahmed, the former ICU and ARS chairman as president in January 2009. The creation of the TFG was based on the Transitional Federal Charter (TFC), which outlined a five-year mandate leading to the establishment of a new Somali constitution and a transition to a representative government following national elections. In 2009, the TFP amended the TFC to extend TFG's mandate until 2011 and in 2011 Somali principals agreed to institute political transition by August 2012. The transition process ended in September 2012 when clan elders replaced the TFP by appointing 275 members to a new parliament who subsequently elected a new president.
Hague Convention Information
Somalia is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F).
The Department of State has occasionally received inquiries from U.S. citizens concerned about the plight of the children of Somalia and wondering about the possibility of adopting them. Our office shares this concern for children in Somalia and we understand that some U.S. citizens want to respond by offering to open their homes and adopting these children in need. At this time, however, it is not generally possible to adopt Somali children for several reasons.
Laws in Somalia regarding adoption are unclear and may vary according to a prospective adoptive parent's religious background. Islamic Shari'a law does not allow for full adoption of a child, as generally understood in the United States. (Please refer to our flyer on Islamic Family Law for more information on this issue.)
Additionally, it can be extremely difficult in Somalia to determine whether children who appear to be orphans truly are eligible for adoption. Children may be temporarily separated from their parents or other family members, and their parents may be looking for them. It is not uncommon in a hostile situation for parents to send their children out of the area, or for families to become separated during an evacuation. Even when it can be demonstrated that children are indeed orphaned or abandoned, they are often taken in by other relatives. During times of crisis, it can also be exceptionally difficult to fulfill the legal requirements for adoption of both the United States and the child's country of origin. It can be very difficult to gather documents necessary to fulfill the legal requirements of U.S. immigration law.
There are ways in which U.S. citizens can help the children of Somalia. Many U.S. and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in Somalia say that what is needed most at this time are financial contributions to sustain their ongoing work. Individuals who wish to assist can often do the most good by making a monetary donation to an established NGO that will be well placed to respond to Somalia's most urgent needs, including those related to its children.
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against travel to Somalia, which remains very dangerous. (Read the full text of Somalia Travel Warning issued by the Department of State, Office of Consular Affairs.)
Please visit the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for more information on travelling to Somalia and the U.S. Embassy Nairobi’s website for information on consular services.