How to Adopt from Kenya

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WARNING: Kenya is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Kenya before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.

Adoption Authority

Kenya's Adoption Authority

The Adoption Committee

P.O. Box 46205-00100 Nairobi, Kenya Tel: 254-020-2228-411 ext 30040

NOTE: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying Kenya as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or; 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. For more information, read about Transition Cases. Similarly, if the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force in Kenya after April 1, 2008, and you have an approved, unexpired Form I-600A or filed a Form I-600 before the entry into force date in Kenya, your adoption may be considered a transition case. Please contact with the details of the case if this situation applies to you.

The Process

Because Kenya is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Kenya 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 to meet all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

  1. Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
  2. Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child by authorities in Kenya
  4. Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
  5. Adopt (or Obtain Legal Custody) of child in Kenya
  6. Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Kenya is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with The Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

Additionally, Kenyan law requires that U.S. adoption service providers be licensed by Kenya’s Adoption Committee and partnered with a licensed Kenyan adoption society. Prospective adoptive parents can obtain a current list of licensed U.S. adoption service providers and Kenyan adoption societies from the Adoption Committee by calling +254 (0)20 2228-411.

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt

After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Kenya as part of your adoption dossier. Kenya’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Kenya’s law.

3. Be Matched with a Child in Kenya

If both the United States and Kenya determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the central authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Kenyan adoption society may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Kenya. The Kenyan adoption society will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the Kenyan adoption society. Learn more about this critical decision.

4.Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption

After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.

After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Kenya. A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.

WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the Kenya’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Kenya where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Kenya’s Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.

Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Kenya before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.

Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

5. Adopt (or Obtain Legal Custody) of Child in Kenya

Remember: Before you adopt (or obtain legal custody of) a child in Kenya, 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 Kenya.

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

1. Approves prospective adoptive parents to adopt under Kenyan law after USCIS has approved them to adopt under U.S. law;
2. Reviews the prospective adoptive parent-child placement recommendations of licensed Kenyan adoption societies;
3. Reviews Article 16 reports on the child to be adopted; and
4. Issues the Article 23 Certificates of Conformity once the child has been adopted and entered into the register of adopted children.
5. Authorizes licensed Kenyan adoption societies to:
A. Approve of children to be adopted;
B. Make prospective adoptive parent-child placement recommendations to the Adoption Committee; and
C. Issue Article 16 reports on the child to be adopted. The reports should include information on the child's social, medical, and psychological history.
  • Role of the Court: Kenyan courts participate in the intercountry adoption process at three stages of the process: ##A children's court commits an abandoned or relinquished child to a children's home. After six months, if no relatives can be located and no one has come forward to claim the child, a licensed Kenyan adoption society will have the child entered into the registry of children to be adopted. After the Form I-800 is provisionally approved by USCIS and the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi issues an Article 5 Letter, the High Court will grant temporary custody of the child to the prospective adoptive parents for a three-month bonding period. The High Court also appoints a guardian ad litem. At the final hearing, the Director of Children's Services will submit a comprehensive report on the prospective adoptive parents and the child to be adopted. If the High Court is satisfied that all the conditions are met for international adoption in the Kenya Children's Act and the Convention, a final adoption order will be made, terminating any existing custody rights and granting full legal custody rights to the adoptive parents. The High Court will also issue an order to have the child placed in the register of adopted children. The adoptive parents can take that order to the Registrar General to get an adoption certificate. They can also take their final adoption order to the Adoption Committee to get an Article 23 Certificate of Conformity.
  • Time Frame: Once prospective adoptive parents have a provisionally approved Form I-800, they should expect to spend up to one year in Kenya completing the adoption and securing the necessary documentation. This includes a three month mandatory bonding period with the child, followed by an additional six to nine months for adoption proceedings and administrative matters. Please note that obtaining a Kenyan passport for an adopted child can take an additional six weeks.
  • Adoption Fees: Kenyan law prohibits financial transactions between individuals involved in an adoption proceeding. Some payments are permitted, for example, to an adoption society for maintenance of the child, or to an attorney who acts for any of the parties or in connection with an application for an adoption order. Any payment or reward made by prospective adoptive parents or a third party facilitating the adoption for the purpose of making an adoption order is considered illegal. The U.S. Embassy in Kenya discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted, donations, or expediting fees that may be requested of prospective adoptive parents. Such fees have the appearance of "buying" a baby and put the present adoption and all future adoptions in Kenya at risk. 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.
  • Documents Required: When applicable, prospective adoptive parents are required to submit the following documents:
1. Home study report that was prepared or overseen by an accredited U.S. adoption service provider;
2. Recent photographs of the prospective adoptive family;
3. Marriage certificate, if married;
4. Prospective adoptive parents’ Health Assessment or Declaration and a certificate of medical fitness of the prospective adoptive parents, duly certified by a medical doctor;
5. Declaration regarding the prospective adoptive parents’ financial status, along with supporting documents;
6. Employment certificate(s);
7. Income tax records;
8. Bank references;
9. Property ownership records;
10. Declaration of prospective adoptive parents’ willingness to adopt the child;
11. Letter from the U.S. adoption service provider stating that child would be legally recognized as a citizen of the United States without any form of discrimination and that the child would be entitled to the same rights as other U.S. citizens;
12. Affidavit from the prospective adoptive parents stating that they will raise and educate the adopted child in accordance with the standards of their community;
13. Letter from the prospective adoptive parents and their U.S. adoption service provider showing a commitment to sending reports related to the progress of the child, along with his/her recent photograph to the Kenyan adoption society that matched the prospective adoptive parents and child. Reports must be sent every three months during first two years, and every six months for the next three years, for a total of five years; and
14. Certificate from a Kenyan adoption society and a U.S. adoption service provider sponsoring the prospective adoptive parents’ application and stating that they are permitted to adopt a child according to the laws of their country. (Prospective adoptive parents should check with their adoption services provider to determine whether an approved Form I-800A may be sufficient to meet this requirement.) 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. Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents.

NOTE: All documents submitted to the Adoption Committee must be authenticated.

6.Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

1. Birth Certificate

If you have finalized the adoption in Kenya, you will firstneed to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.

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.

At the time that the adoption is finalized, the High Court judge will issue an order for the Registrar General to enter the adoption into the adopted children's register. The adoptive parents must present this order to the offices of the Registrar General, who will issue the adoptive parents an adoption certificate. The adoption certificate contains the name of the child's adoptive parents and any changes to the child's name during the adoption.

2. Kenyan Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Kenya.

You can obtain a passport for your child by visiting Immigration Services in Nairobi on a walk-in basis. It can take up to six weeks to obtain a passport for your child. However, you may request to have your application expedited. Inquire about this process with Immigration Services directly.

Immigration Services Nyayo House 9th Floor Room 30 Nairobi, Kenya Tel: +254 (0)20 2222022, Email:

Please bring the following items with you when you apply for your child’s passport:

1. A completed passport application form (available online at;
2. The child’s birth certificate and adoption decree (original and photocopy) certificate;
3. The adoptive parents’ birth certificates;
4. Any identification that the child has;
5. Three passport-size photographs of the child;
6. Certified copies of the adoptive parents’ passports.
3. U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. After the adoption is granted, you can schedule an appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi by sending an e-mail to and Next, visit the U.S Embassy for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, final approval of Form I-800, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. 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. Read more about the Medical Examination.

To learn more about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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