As of 2015, the U.S. Department of State has advised parents against adopting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While there are many children in need of families, adoption in the country is undergoing significant reform, and exit permits for Congolese children have been suspended for an undetermined amount of time. For this reason, adoptions involving Congolese children have been delayed or halted altogether. Recently, the DRC issued exit permits for a large number of Congolese adoptees, but the suspension is still in effect.
In the event that adoption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo becomes possible again, the following information will provide everything you need to know about the adoption process, regulations, and requirements.
DRC Adoption Quick Facts
- Hague Convention Country: No
- Adoption Authorities: Ministry of Gender and Family, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Social Affairs, Division of Urban Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Interior and Security, General Direction of Migration
- Average Time to Complete an Adoption: Indefinite
- Average Cost for Adoption: $25,000-$40,000
- Average yearly U.S. Adoptions: N/A
Who Can Adopt in DRC?
Each country has a specific set of guidelines and requirements that all adoptive parents must meet. Here, you can learn whether you are eligible to adopt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Prospective parents must be at least 18 years old and 15 years older than the child they wish to adopt. There is no maximum age limit.
Number of Children
Parents may not adopt more than three children, even if the siblings are a part of a sibling group, and they may have no more than two children in the home at the time of the adoption.
Congolese authorities will not issue exit permits for children adopted by single parents as of 2013. Married couples must be married for at least five years. Same-sex couples are not permitted to adopt.
All prospective parents must show proof of employment or sufficient income.
Anyone with a record of child abuse will be prohibited from adopting.
Who Can be Adopted in DRC?
Most of the children available for adoption are between one and four years old, but older children and teens are also in need of families. All of the children must meet certain requirements to be adopted. In order to be eligible for adoption, a child must:
- Meet the definition of “orphan” under U.S. immigration law
- Be voluntarily relinquished for adoption by his or her birth parents, unless they are deceased or have abandoned the child
- Be found eligible for adoption by the local Guardianship Council
- Consent to the adoption if over 15 years of age
Not all children in orphanages or children’s homes have been deemed eligible for adoption. Speak to your adoption professional if you have any questions or concerns.
Adoption Process in the DRC
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is not part of the Hague Adoption Convention, but the United States is. Therefore, U.S. couples adopting in the DRC must follow the Hague Convention guidelines as well as the laws of the DRC.
Read on to find information about the adoption process and what to expect.
How Long Does it Take to Adopt a Child from the DRC?
The time it takes to receive a referral from the DRC can range from 6 to 12 months. After that, it usually takes between 12 and 24 months to complete the adoption. However, exit permits for adoption have been suspended indefinitely, so it is unclear when adoptions will be able to resume or how long they will take in the future.
How do I Find an Adoption Professional?
In order to complete an international adoption, you must find an adoption agency that is licensed to work with officials in the country of your choice. Below, you will find a list of agencies that will be able to help complete DRC adoptions in the future:
How do I Become Eligible for Adoption?
In order to adopt, you must be approved by authorities in both the United States and the DRC. Because the DRC is a non-Hague country, you will need to apply to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with a Form I-600A. Upon approval, you may apply to the DRC authorities, who will review your dossier and provide you a referral if you are accepted.
What Do I Do Once I Receive a Referral?
After you have received a referral, you and your adoption professional will work together to determine whether you can provide for the specific needs of the child in question. If you feel that you will not be able to give proper care to a particular child, you may choose to decline a referral.
If you decide to move forward with the adoption, you will be able to apply for permission to adopt by sending a letter to the Tribunal pour Enfants and the Ministry of Gender and Family. When you travel to the DRC, the Tribunal pour Enfants will also oversee the adoption process.
Your adoption must be completed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For most families, the trip to complete the adoption is also their first meeting with the adopted child. This trip will usually last two to four weeks. Both parents are required to be in the country for at least the first seven days of the process, and then one parent may leave if necessary. If the child is a Ward of the State, the Guardianship Counsel of the local government must release the child for adoption before the proceedings can take place.
How Do I Complete the Adoption?
First, the child’s current guardians must consent to the adoption. Then, the adoptive parents may request a court hearing to legally complete the adoption. After this hearing, the court will conduct an investigation to ensure that all requirements have been met. Afterwards, an adoption decree will be issued, and you will be able to apply for your child to be eligible to immigrate to the United States.
In order to bring your child back to the United States, you will need to file a Form I-600 with USCIS. You must also provide the following documents:
- The adoption judgment issued by the Tribunal pour Enfants
- The adoption decree
- A certificate of Non-Appeal from the Magistrate in your child’s area
- Your child’s birth certificate
- An abandonment report, if it applies to the child
- Parental authorization, if applicable
- Ward of the State documents
- An Indigence Report, if applicable
- Death certificates of the biological parents, if applicable
In addition, you will need to apply for a birth certificate, passport, and visa for your child. To obtain your child’s visa, you must attend an interview with the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. Once approved, you will be ready to return home.
It is also strongly recommended that you complete an international re-adoption upon returning home, as this provides you with important documentation, allows you to change your child’s name, and protects his or her rights across states. To initiate the re-adoption process, speak to an adoption attorney in your state.
DRC Adoption Costs
At an average of $25,000 to $40,000, the costs to adopt in the DRC are not markedly higher or lower than in other countries. While the expenses vary for every family and adoption professional, a general breakdown of these costs is as follows:
- Agency Fees: $8,000-&10,000
- Documentation and applications: $2,000-$3,000
- Foreign program fees: $3,000-$5,000
- Travel: $10,000-$15,000
- Childcare and medical fees: $3,000-$4,000
- Third party fees: $2,000-$3,000
For more information on the specifics of adoption costs, speak to an adoption professional.
DRC Travel Tips
Currently, travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo is strongly discouraged. As of late 2015, the Department of State has issued a warning recommending that U.S. citizens avoid travel to the DRC unless absolutely necessary.
U.S. Embassy in DRC
United States citizens travelling abroad should always have the contact information for the U.S. Embassy in the event of an emergency. Below is the information for the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa:
Address: 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, Kinshasa, Gombe, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Phone #: +(243) 081-556-0151