How to Adopt from Botswana

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Native Baobab tree.

Adoption Authority

Botswana's Adoption Authority

Ministry of Local Government

While the Ministry of Local Government has oversight of the entire process, the Magistrate Court is the only body which issues binding legal decisions regarding children's issues. The Magistrate Court is referred to as the Children's Court when it hears cases involving children. The Magistrate Court gives priority to children's cases, therefore custody and adoption cases do not queue with other matters before the court. While the court is under no legal obligation to involve social workers in children's issues, they typically do. However, social workers have described rare cases in which custody has been granted solely at the judge's discretion.

The Process

The process for adopting a child from Botswana generally includes the following steps:

  1. Choose an adoption service provider
  2. Apply to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child
  4. Adopt the child in Botswana
  5. Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
  6. Bring your child home

1.Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Botswana 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.

Private adoptions outside of government regulations are not recognized in Botswana. The system is designed in such a way that legal representation or utilization of an adoption agency or broker is not required. While there is no specific law prohibiting their existence, there are currently no adoption service providers recognized in Botswana. Some families retain an attorney believing that to do so may help them navigate the bureaucracy more quickly, but often end up being frustrated that they have spent considerable sums of money for no apparent advantage.

2.Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:

In order to adopt a child from Botswana, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Botswana and U.S. immigration law. You must submit an application to be found eligible to adopt with the Ministry of Local Government of Botswana.

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 a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority or other authorized entity in Botswana will 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 Botswana requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law.

The Ministry of Local Government maintains a list of families (currently over 200 families, both citizens and foreigners) who wish to adopt children. Currently, this list is much longer than the number of available children and families can wait many months or years before being matched. If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Botswana will match you with a child. Each family must decide whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for the child with whom they are matched. Once a child is matched with a family, and the family agrees to the match, the family must submit an application to the Magistrate (Children’s) Court to obtain legal custody and foster the child.

4.Adopt or Gain Legal Custody of the Child in Botswana:

Once a child is matched with a family, the family must submit an application to the Magistrate (Children’s) Court to obtain legal custody and become the child’s foster parents. This is not a long term arrangement, and after six months the family must either terminate custody or begin proceedings to legally adopt the child. During this period, a social worker monitors the family by conducting visits to the home to interview family members and to observe family life and living conditions.

The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Botswana generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: While the Adoption Act of 1952 provides that the Minister of Local Government acts as the child’s guardian ad litem, in practice the courts assign social workers to act in this capacity. Once the adoption is complete, social workers attempt to make follow-up visits with families.
  • Role of the Court: During the actual adoption hearing, the social worker can submit any information to the Children’s (Magistrate) Court that was obtained during the course of their home visits or interviews. Only children over ten years of age are interviewed by social workers regarding custody and adoption issues. The court will not grant the application unless it is satisfied that:
1. The applicant(s) are qualified to adopt the child;
2. The applicant(s) are of good repute and are fit and proper to be entrusted with the custody of the child;
3. The applicant(s) have adequate means to maintain and educate the child;
4. The proposed adoption will serve the best interests and be conducive to the welfare of the child;
5. That consent to the adoption has been given (see relinquishment and abandonment requirements).
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: None.
  • Adoption Application: Current applications will be provided and explained by the social worker assigned to the case.
  • Time Frame: After six months, during which the prospective adoptive parents foster the prospective adoptive child, they may apply to the Magistrate (Children’s) Court for adoption.
  • Adoption Fees: An unspecified sum of money sufficient to cover all expenses incurred. Fees are paid directly to the Government of Botswana, through the Ministry of Local Government and/or the Magistrate’s Court.
  • Documents Required: Documentary requirements will be provided and explained by the social worker assigned to the case. 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 Botswana, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition of orphan under U.S. law. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.

6.Bringing 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 finalized the adoption in Botswana you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new 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. This process can be completed at the main office of the Registrar of Births and Deaths located at the Department of Immigration in the Government Enclave in Gaborone.

“When an order has been made for the adoption of a child whose birth has been registered in Botswana, the Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths shall on the application of the adoptive parent and on production of the order of adoption or of a certified copy thereof and on payment of the prescribed fee, cause the fact of adoption and a statement whether the name of the adoptive parent was or was not conferred upon the child by virtue of the adoption, to be recorded on the original birth information form and against any entry of the birth in the births register of the district Registrar of Births and Deaths in which the birth was recorded.” (Laws of Botswana, Chapter 28-01 Section 13)

2. Botswana Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Botswana. You may bring the court order of adoption and apply for a Botswana passport at any Ministry of Home Affairs office. Please refer to the Ministry’s website for more information.

3. U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for an U.S. immigrant visa for your child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. The U.S. Embassy in Gaborone does not conduct immigrant visa interviews or make decisions in immigrant visa cases. All immigrant visa applications for citizens of Botswana, including adopted children, are adjudicated by the Consular Section at the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg, South Africa. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.

You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on Consulate General Johannesburg’s website.

NOTE: You must have an approved Form I-600 petition before an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa may be issued. You may file your Form I-600 petition with USCIS in the United States or in person at the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone, provided you have a valid, approved Form I-600A on record. Form I-600 petitions filed at the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone will be forwarded to the USCIS office located at the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg, South Africa, for adjudication. If approved, the petition will be referred to the Consular Section in Johannesburg for immigrant visa processing.

U.S. citizen citizens are not required to make appointments with the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone, but are advised to call in advance (+267 (395-3982) to enable prompt response to their inquiry. The Consular Section is open for routine American Citizen Services Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., and on Tuesday and Thursday from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

U.S. Embassy Gaborone accepts payments for consular services by cash and most credit cards, in either U.S. dollars or Botswana pula. Payments are only accepted at the Embassy Gaborone’s Consular Section and should not be paid to a third party.

Before traveling to South Africa, please review the Consular Information Sheet for South Africa and be sure to comply with the Government of South Africa’s entry requirements, which stipulate that travelers to South Africa must have at least two blank pages in their foreign passport upon entry.

Once the Consular Section is in receipt of a family’s approved Form I-600 petition, the family will be contacted by the Consular Section concerning their next steps. Immigrant visa applications must complete a series of forms before the immigrant visa interview may take place. Once the family is documentarily ready for the interview, they must call the Consular Section to schedule an appointment for the immigrant visa interview. A consular officer conducts the immigration interview and, if the immigrant visa application is approved, issues the visa. A consular officer must see the adopted child before the immigrant visa may be issued. All adoption cases must include full judicial documentation which constitutes irrevocable release of the child for immigration and adoption as well as permission to depart the country by the court which granted adoption.

Mailing Address:

Consulate General of the United States of America P.O. Box 787197, Sandton, 2146 Johannesburg, South Africa

Physical Address:

1 Sandton Drive, Sandhurst (opposite Sandton City Mall) Johannesburg, South Africa Tel: (27 11) 290-3000 Fax: (27 11) (011) 884-0396 Email:

NOTE: Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes at least 24 working hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview. Adoptive parents should not make final travel arrangements before they receive the visa.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child's entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

For adoptions finalized after the child's entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.

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.

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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