How to Adopt from Ghana
Ghanian Adoption Authority
Department of Social Welfare
The process for adopting a child from Ghana 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 Ghana
- Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
- Bringing Your Child Home
1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider:
The recommended first step in adopting a child from Ghana 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.
Until recently, the Government of Ghana did not authorize foreign adoption service providers. Only the Department of Social Welfare, under the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, was authorized to provide adoption services in Ghana. The Department of Social Welfare has recently begun to approve adoption agencies to assist in preparing adoptive families for adoption. Currently, prospective adoptive parents are not required to adopt through an adoption agency.
To begin the adoption process, either the prospective adoptive parents or the designated agency should contact the Department of Social Welfare to purchase adoption application forms. These forms may be purchased from the Director of Social Welfare at any regional Social Welfare office for GHC 50.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:
In order to adopt a child from Ghana, you will need to meet the requirements of Ghanaian law and U.S. immigration law. You must submit an application to be found eligible to adopt with the Department of Social Welfare of Ghana.
Applicants purchase the adoption application form from the Director of Social Welfare at any regional Social Welfare office for GHC 50 and submit the completed application, along with the attachments specified, to the Regional Director of Social Welfare in the region where the adoptive child lives.
For domestic adoptions, a Social Welfare Officer visits the applicant's home and conducts a series of interviews to compile a report on the prospective adoptive parents. The Social Welfare Officer then submits the report to an Adoption Placement Committee within the Department of Social Welfare. For intercountry adoptions, the report submitted to the Adoption Placement Committee is a home study report prepared by an authorized agency in the country of residence of the applicants.
The Adoption Placement Committee then reviews the application and home study documentation to determine whether the prospective adoptive parents meet eligibility requirements. The review process can take three months or more. 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 Department of Social Welfare in Ghana 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 Ghana’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.
- Role of Adoption Authority: The Ghanaian Department of Social Welfare has the sole legal authority to process adoptions in Ghana. The Department of Social Welfare Head Office has oversight authority for all adoptions throughout Ghana.
- Role of the Court: According to the Ghanaian Children’s Act 560 (1998), an application for an adoption order may be made to the High Court, Circuit Court or to any Family Tribunal which has jurisdiction where the applicant or the child resides at the date of the application.
- Role of Adoption Agencies: Until recently, adoption agencies did not operate in Ghana. In 2012, however, the government of Ghana began a pilot program of authorizing some adoption agencies to help facilitate intercountry adoptions. Any adoption agency must to be approved by the Department of Social Welfare before working in Ghana. Currently, prospective adoptive parents are not required to go through an adoption agency.
- Time Frame: It generally takes about one year to complete an adoption in Ghana. The U.S. immigration petition and visa process may require an additional one to six months for USCIS and/or the U.S. Embassy in Ghana to conduct investigations in individual adoption cases in Ghana.
- Adoption Fees: Fees for adoption in Ghana vary depending on the circumstances. Attorney’s fees usually range from GHC 2,000 to GHC 3,000 and they generally include court costs. Passport fees range from GHC 50 to GHC 200, depending on the age and background of the applicant.
- Documents Required: In general, the documents required are the same as for an adoption in the United States, including birth, marriage, and divorce records, medical examination and clearance, and evidence of financial stability and gainful employment. 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 Ghana, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must approve an immigrant visa petition for your child. You will need to file and obtain approval of 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 finalized the adoption in Ghana, 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. If your adopted child does not already have a birth certificate, you can obtain one through Ghana’s Births and Deaths Registry. You can do this by visiting the Central Registry Office, which is located in Accra at the Ministries Annex near MDPI (Old Passport Office), or any District Registration Office.
- 2. Ghanian Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Ghana. To obtain a Ghanaian passport for your adopted child, fill out a Ghana passport application and follow the procedures outlined by the Ghana Immigration Service. For detailed instructions, see here.
- 3. U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and your Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative has been approved, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Ghana. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. At your scheduled immigrant visa interview, a Consular Officer will review your child’s eligibility for a U.S. visa. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child and the Consular Officer must determine that your child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law. You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy in Accra’s website.
To learn more about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
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