How to Adopt from Uganda

10 min


Uganda‘s Adoption Authority Adopt from Uganda

The Department of Youth and Child Affairs in the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development is the body charged with overseeing inter-country adoptions. Legal guardianship or adoption orders can only be granted by the High Court.

Uganda‘s Children Act is the legislation governing all aspects of the fostering, legal guardianship, and adoption process.

The Process

The process for adopting a child from Uganda 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. Adoptor obtain custody of the child in Uganda
  5. Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
  6. Bring your child home

1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Uganda is to decide whether or not to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States that can help you with your adoptionAdoption 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.

Uganda does not authorize specific adoption service providers (ASPs) for the purposes of intercountry adoption. U.S. ASPs are able to operate in Uganda without formal approval by the Government of UgandaAdoptive parents should be advised however that very few have permanent staff in country rather they partner with one or more local orphanages and/or lawyers.

2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

In order to adopt a child from Uganda, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Uganda and U.S. immigration law. You must submit an application to be found eligible to adopt, as part of the petition filed for to adopt, with the High Court of Uganda.

The eligibility of prospective adoptive parents is evaluated as part of the adoption process through the High Court of Uganda. Please read section 4 for more information about filing a petition to adopt with the High Court.

To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you should 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.

Please note that the Ugandan regulations require prospective adoptive parents to present evidence of approval by their country of nationality to adopt as part of their petition to adopt with the High Court. Therefore, prospective adoptive parents should ensure they have received their I-600A approval notice before filing with the High Court.

3. Be Matched with a Child:

If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, your adoption service provider, the central adoption authority or another authorized entity in Uganda 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 Uganda’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.

4. Adopt or Obtain Legal Custody of Child in Uganda

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

  • Role of Adoption Authority: The Department of Youth and Child Affairs at the Ministry of Justice, Labour, and Social Development oversees Probation and Social Welfare Officers. Probation and Social Welfare Officers monitor and record the progress of the adoptive family during the 36-month fostering period. When exceptions to the fostering/residency requirement are made, they assess whether the intercountry adoption is a suitable option for the child. Prospective adoptive parents work with the Probation and Social Welfare Officers in the region where the child resides.
  • Role of The Court: The High Court is the sole authority that can grant adoption and guardianship orders for the purposes of intercountry adoption. Local magistrate courts process adoptions only when the prospective adoptive parents and the child are all Ugandan citizens. Ugandan-Americans should pursue legal guardianship only with the High Court. Judges have considered dual nationals to be both foreigners and Ugandans in the past. Prospective adoptive parents should ensure they work only through the High Court for intercountry adoptions as orders by the magistrate courts are not sufficient for purposes of immigration. Ugandan High Court judges have exercised discretion in granting legal guardianship in some cases, which permit an orphan to emigrate from Uganda for full and final adoption abroad before completing the 36-month fostering requirement in Uganda. For U.S. citizens, this means the prospective adoptive child may qualify for an Immediate Relative 4 visa (IR-4) for the purpose of emigration and adoption in the United States. To file for an IR-4 visa for the child, the legal guardianship order and the accompanying court ruling cannot limit the custody arrangements of the parents, or prohibit the child’s ability to leave Uganda. Once the child immigrates to the United States, the legal guardians must file for adoption with a U.S. state court.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: At this time, there are only American adoption agencies that provide adoption services in Uganda, although there are a number of Ugandan nongovernmental organizations and interest groups that advocate for children’s rights. Some of these groups are encouraging Uganda‘s accession to the Hague Adoption Convention and may also provide adoption-related information. Orphanages (also termed baby homes and children’s homes) must be accredited by the Ugandan Ministry of Gender, Social Development, and Labour in order to refer children in their care for international adoption. Generally, these homes work with one or more ASPs to make the referrals to prospective adoptive parents. At this time, very few U.S. ASPs have permanent staff in country. Children who will be referred to prospective adoptive parents must first be evaluated by a Probation and Social Welfare Officer to determine whether intercountry adoption is suitable for the child. Prospective adoptive parents should consider hiring a qualified Ugandan attorney to assist with the legal aspects of the adoption. The U.S. Embassy cannot recommend the services of any specific attorney, and most law firms in Uganda indicate that they provide adoption services. A list of attorneys practicing in Uganda can be found here.
  • Adoption Application: Foreign citizens wishing to adopt a child in Uganda are required to file a petition with the High Court of Uganda after they have identified a child they wish to adopt. When filing the petition, prospective adoptive parents should ensure the petition states clearly their intention for the child to immigrate to the United States and that they seek subsequently to adopt the child in the United States. Please see the documents required section for what should be included with this petition. Prospective adoptive parents are required to appear in person, and the court requires that the local Probation and Social Welfare Officer overseeing the case submit a report with his/her recommendation. In certain cases, the court may also request that other individuals or authorities submit a report or affidavit(s) related to the adoption petition. For instance, in many cases orphanage directors are requested to submit information about children that were placed in their care. Living relatives are generally asked to provide affidavits about the child’s circumstances and, in most cases, must appear in court.
  • Time Frame: Prospective adoptive parents should allow sufficient time to complete the necessary processing of the case both with the Ugandan High Court and the U.S. Embassy. The court process takes, on average, one to three weeks from the initial court appearance to the execution of the adoption or legal guardianship decree, and to the issuance of a written court ruling. Ugandan immigration authorities generally require the court documents and clearance from the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development before adjudicating a passport application submitted on behalf of a child being adopted by foreign parents. The average processing time for a Ugandan birth certificate and passport is about four weeks, and these processes can only begin after the court ruling has been issued. Once the passport is obtained, the child can have his/her medical exam with the panel physician (see Section 6). When this is completed, the prospective adoptive families can begin the U.S. Embassy process. Some families may find it easier to make two trips to Uganda – one to appear in court and one to file the I-600 petition and apply for the immigrant visa. In this scenario, your Ugandan based lawyer or adoption agency would assist in obtaining the birth certificate and passport on your behalf.
  • Adoption Fees: Court fees are less than $100.00 and may vary according to the number of documents that require notarization. Average attorney’s fees can range from $500 to $2,000. Uganda birth and death certificates cost $2 and Ugandan passports cost $32. The U.S. Embassy in Uganda discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted, for example, “donations” or “expediting” fees. These may be requested from biological parents, children’s homes, or individuals offering to assist with procuring civil documents. Such fees may have the appearance of “buying” a baby and could put all future adoptions from Uganda at risk.
  • Documents Required: The following documents must be submitted to the Ugandan High Court:

1. Marriage certificate of adoptive parents;2. Police clearances from all countries of residence;3. Proof of financial stability (e.g., tax returns and bank statements);4. A report from the Probation and Social Welfare Officer, or a U.S. home study if the prospective parents do not reside in Uganda;5. The child’s full orphanage file if the child has been in a children’s home. This must include: ##Proof of registration of the children’s home with Ugandan authorities;6. Proof of the children’s home’s approval by the Ministry of Gender, Social Development, and Labour to refer children for intercountry adoption;7. A care order for the child issued by the local magistrate’s office;8. Police report(s), if applicable;9. Probation and Social Welfare Officer’s reports on the child’s situation;10. Affidavit from the children’s home director or social worker;11. Affidavits from birth relatives or persons who know about the child’s background or circumstances;12. The High Court of Uganda must issue an adoption order or legal guardianship decree for the purposes of emigration and full and final adoption abroad for the child to be adopted by the parent(s);13. Assurance that the adoptive parent(s)’s country will respect and recognize the adoption order or legal guardianship issued by the Ugandan Court. The U.S. Child Citizenship Act of 2000 meets 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.

5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status

After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Uganda, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. In some cases prospective adoptive parents will file the I-600 petition in the United States and will only apply for the immigrant visa in Uganda. If this applies to you, please refer to USCIS’ filing guidelines and skip to Section 6 for immigrant visa information.

For those who will file the I-600 petition with the U.S. Embassy in Kampala, in most cases, you will be able to schedule your appointment for the I-600 petition and the immigrant visa at the same time. For families who will do this, please read sections 5 and 6 in their entirety and ensure you have all required documents before scheduling an appointment.

Scheduling an Appointment

You will schedule two appointments: one to file the documents and a second for the visa interview. Beneficiaries of immediate relative petitions are interviewed by appointment only. The consular section has dedicated immigrant visa interview hours on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. These appointments are made directly with the Consular Section once prospective adoptive parents are documentarily qualified.

Before scheduling an appointment, prospective adoptive parents must have the following documentation in hand. These are the U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents wishing to adopt:1. Form I-600 – Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative;2. Form DS-230 – Application for Immigrant Visa Application;3. Form DS-1981 – Affidavit Concerning Exemption from Immigrant Vaccination Requirements (for children younger than 10 years of age);4. Form I-864 – Affidavit of Support or I-864W if a full and final adoption has been completed in Uganda ##Tax returns for the last three tax years;5. The child’s birth certificate;6. Passport;7. Irrevocable relinquishment of child custody from the person/entity that had previous custody, both in English and in the person’s native language;8. Four 2″ x 2″ photographs;9. Court order and ruling with petitioner’s name or adoption order with petitioner’s name. Adopt from Uganda

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:

Please understand that the Embassy cannot intervene on behalf of private citizens in any Ugandan procedures related to adoptions, including the court process and obtaining civil documents such as birth certificates and passports. We are also unable to assist you with filling out required paperwork for the I-600 petition filing and immigrant visa application processes.1. Birth Certificate

If you have finalized the adoption in Uganda, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Adopt from Uganda

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. The birth certificate you obtain will list the names of the birth parents, if they are known.

The official birth certificate for the child, a long-form birth certificate, as well as death certificates for the biological parent(s), if applicable, can be obtained at:

Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB)

Plot 5 George Street, Georgian House P.O. Box 6848 Kampala, Uganda URSB General Line: 256-414-233-219 Registrar General: 256-414-235-915 Fax: 256-414-250-712 Email: Website: URSB2. Uganda Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Uganda. Ugandan passports can be obtained from the following office: Adopt from Uganda

The Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Adopt from Uganda

Passport Control Office Plot 75 Jinja Road P.O. Box 7191 Tel: 256-414-342-5613. 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 a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Kampala. 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. Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes two business days, and it will not be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in Kampala before making final travel arrangements.

You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy Kampala’s website. Adopt from Uganda

Medical Examination:

As a part of the immigrant visa process, the child must undergo a standard immigrant visa physical examination conducted by U.S. Embassy Kampala’s panel physician. After obtaining the child’s passport, please email to arrange a time to pick up a form authorizing the medical examination. Adopt from Uganda

Once you have this authorization form, applicants should schedule the physical examination with:

IOM (International Organization for Migration)

Plot 40 Mackenzie Vale, Kololo P.O. Box 11431 Kampala, Uganda Telephone: 256-414-236-622 or 256-312-261-179

IOM’s working hours are: Monday to Thursday 8:00am to 5:00pm Friday 8:00am to 2:00pm

Please contact IOM at the above phone number to schedule an appointment and ensure that you take the following with you to your appointment:1. Two (2) passport photos of the applicant (size 2″ x 2″);2. Valid photo identification for all present at the appointment;3. Previous medical reports (if any);4. Immunization records (if any).

On completion of the medical examination, IOM will forward the medical paperwork to the Consular Section for review and further processing. This takes 3-5 business days.

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

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