Cote d'IvoireLast Updated: October 2013
Hague Adoption Convention Country?NO
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- Hague Convention Information
Côte d’Ivoire is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption(Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F).
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Côte d’Ivoire, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.
Additionally, a child must meet the definition of orphanunder U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States on an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.
- Who Can Adopt
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, you must also meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Côte d’Ivoire:
- Residency: The adoption law requires a mandatory home study and a six-month integration period. In some past instances, however, the Court of Justice has waived the requirement or reduced the length of time provided that the adoptive parent(s) prove that they have seen and have been supporting the adoptive child.
- Age of Adopting Parents: The prospective adoptive parent(s) must be more than thirty years old and must be at least 15 years older than the adoptive child.
- Marriage: A prospective adoptive couple must be married for at least five years, and both individuals must consent to the adoption. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and same-sex couples are not eligible to adopt.
- Income: Income requirements are not specifically addressed in the adoption law. The law states that “the adoption is not possible unless there are clear and convincing reasons and if it will confer advantages to the adopted child.” That is, the adoption should be beneficial for the child at all levels. The judge will, therefore, verify whether the adoptive parent(s) are financially capable to provide good care for the child. In addition, in order to be eligible to adopt adoptive parent(s) must include in their application, addressed to the Direction de la Protection Sociale (Department of Social Welfare), any proof of income whether they are employed or self-employed.
- Who Can Be Adopted
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, Côte d’Ivoire has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption:
- Relinquishment: Children placed in an orphanage by the biological parent(s) for financial inability or other personal reasons are not available for adoption unless the parent(s) irrevocably relinquish their parental rights and consent to the child’s adoption in accordance with the law.
- Abandonment: Foundlings, directly placed in public orphanages, are considered abandoned if the biological parents cannot be located after three months of police investigation.
- Age of Adoptive Child: With regard to full adoption, the law states that the child must be under 15 years old. However, the maximum of age for an orphan placed in a public orphanage is 12 years old. Important note: U.S. law requires a child to be under the age of 16 at the time the petition is filed to qualify for a U.S. immigrant visa, unless the child is the natural sibling of another child who was adopted by the same parents while under the age of 18.
- Sibling Adoptions: Sibling adoptions are allowed. No priority is given to prospective adoptive parents adopting siblings.
- Special Needs or Medical Conditions: A medical examination is required for an orphan before the child can be released from the orphanage. The medical examination is the responsibility of the prospective adoptive parent(s).
- Waiting Period or Foster Care: The law requires a mandatory six-month period for foster care but in practice it is not always enforced.
Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are adoptable. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption.
- How To Adopt
Côte d’Ivoire Adoption Authority
The government offices responsible for adoption in Côte d'Ivoire are the Ministère de l’Emploi, des Affaires Sociales et de la Solidarité (Ministry of Employment, Social Welfare and Solidarity) and the Ministère de la Justice (Ministry of Justice). More specifically, the Direction de la Protection Sociale (Department of Social Welfare) has jurisdiction over the child's identification process, the home study and the issuance of a certificate authorizing the orphanage to release the child to the adoptive parent(s). The Tribunal de Première Instance (Court of First Instance) has sole authority to grant or deny legal adoption.
The process for adopting a child from Côte d’Ivoire 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 Côte d’Ivoire
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 Côte d’Ivoire 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.
There are no private adoption agencies in Côte d'Ivoire. All adoption matters are processed through the Department of Social Welfare and/or the Court of First Instance. The Department of Social Welfare requires that foreign prospective adoptive parent(s) living abroad submit an official authorization for adoption issued by authorized U.S. adoption agencies from their state of residence. This can be a formal U.S. home study.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from Côte d’Ivoire you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and U.S. immigration law. If the adoptive parent already identified the child, the request for adoption is directly processed through the Court of First Instance as described in Section 4. When a child is not yet identified, the first step must be followed with the Department of Social Welfare of Côte d’Ivoire, as described below. Please note: All Ivoirian fees noted in the flyer are set in Euros; the U.S. dollar estimate is based on the current Euro-U.S. dollar exchange rate and may fluctuate.
- Prospective adoptive parent(s) must submit an application to be found eligible to adopt with the Department of Social Welfare of Côte d’Ivoire. The application includes a written request from the prospective parent(s) addressed to the Directeur de la Protection Sociale (Head of Social Welfare Department) along with specific supporting documents. The request should mention the motives for adoption and must indicate the age range and the gender of the adoptive child.
- The following documents, originals or certified copies, must be attached to the application:
- Birth certificates of the adoptive parent(s);
- Police Clearance;
- Copy of passport or National ID card;
- One ID photograph;
- Marriage certificate for legally married couples;
- Proof of income (pay slips or other proof);
- Medical certificate confirming sterility if this is the basis for adoption;
- The foreign state authorization for adoption. (I-600A or I600)
- The complete file should be sent to or dropped off at the following address in order to receive a registration number: Direction de la Protection Sociale, BP V 200 Immeuble le Général, 5e étage, Plateau, Abidjan 01, Côte d’Ivoire. You may also call (+225) 22 32 42 33 for directions.
- The registration is subject to the payment of fees which are separate from the court fees. The fee for foreign citizens residing in or outside Côte d’Ivoire is currently $123. This fee is non-refundable.
- The committee in charge of placing children in foster-homes will review the applications for adoption, conduct the home study and will start looking for a child matching the criteria indicated by the prospective adoptive parents. This committee meets four times per year, on a quarterly basis in March, June, September and December.
- The application remains open for two years from the date of registration and will be reviewed during each quarterly session if no decision has yet been made. The prospective adoptive parent(s) will be notified in writing of the final decision.
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 Côte d’Ivoire 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 Côte d’Ivoire’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.
Once the application is approved and a child is identified for adoption, the committee issues to the prospective adoptive parent(s) an authorization to take the child from the orphanage for a mandatory medical examination. The prospective adoptive parents are responsible for paying the medical fees which are currently $400. Upon the completion of the medical examination, the adoptive parent(s) are required to confirm in writing their intent to adopt. Once their confirmation is received, the committee will issue an authorization to the orphanage to release the child for foster care to the adoptive parent(s). However, the release is also subject to the payment of a compulsory financial contribution to the orphanage for the upkeep of the other abandoned children. The amount set for foreign adoptive parents whether living in country or abroad is currently $ 616.
4. Adopt or Gain Legal Custody of Child in Côte d’Ivoire
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Côte d’Ivoire goes through the Court of First Instance.
- Once the child is officially placed in foster care, the adoptive parent(s) may submit a request for legal adoption to the court. Although, the law states that it is only upon the completion of a six-month period that the judge may receive a request for and grant a full adoption, in practice, the court is more lenient with international adoptions considering various constraints as factors in the decision.
- There are two types of adoptions in Cote d'Ivoire: the simple adoption (Adoption Simple) and the full adoption (Adoption Plénière). The simple adoption is roughly equivalent of a guardianship order and does not sever parental rights. The full adoption is a permanent, irrevocable severing of ties with the biological parents and creation of a legal parent-child relationship with the same rights as a biological child. However, please note that only a full adoption is considered a valid adoption for U.S. immigration purposes.
- Upon receipt of the request for legal adoption, the court will review the facts surrounding the adoption, the documents supporting the request and may verify the biological parents’ consent if applicable. When satisfied, the court schedules a date for the hearing to issue the official adoption judgment. At the same time, the judge makes a decision on the name of the adopted child and authorizes the birth certificate to be amended to reflect the name of the adoptive parent(s) as the new legal surname of the child.
- Please note that if the child is not an orphan, the biological parents are required by law to consent in writing to the adoption. The written consent must be attached to the application for adoption along with the other supporting documents.
Note: Prospective adoptive parent(s) are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, prospective adoptive parents may wish to consider contacting the Better Business Bureau and/or the licensing office in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed.
- Adoption Application: The documentary requirements for processing adoptions before the court are the following:
- A written request for legal full adoption from the adoptive parent(s);
- Birth certificates of the adoptive parent(s);
- Marriage certificate for legally married couples;
- Proof of income (pay slips or other proof);
- Medical certificate confirming sterility, if this is the basis for adoption;
- The official certificate issued by the local Department of Social Welfare authorizing foster care.
- A U.S. home study may be useful, if translated into French;
- Consent for adoption, in writing, with the signature(s) of the biological parent(s), if known, duly attested by a Notary Public.
- Time Frame: The legal process generally may be finalized within a year.
- Adoption Fees: The adoption process involves administrative fees associated with the medical examination, as well as for court procedures. The administrative and medical fees are described in section 2 (c) and section 3. The court fees consist of $ 59.00 to register the case at court. Additional fees involve the purchase of a revenue stamp of $1.60 for issuance of the birth certificate, and the payment of a $ 75.00 application fee for an Ivoirian passport.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.
- 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 Côte d’Ivoire, 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.
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:
If you have finalized the adoption in Côte d’Ivoire 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.
Birth certificates are issued by the Civil Registry (Mairie) having jurisdiction over the child’s place of birth. The adoptive parent(s) will take a copy of the full adoption judgment to the civil registry officer who will amend the initial birth certificate to add the adoptive parent(s) surname on the document.
Côte d’Ivoire Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Côte d’Ivoire.
Caution: Please note that only a citizen of Côte d’Ivoire is entitled to an Ivoirian passport. It is advisable to apply for the passport using the original birth certificate of the child because once the name of the foreign adoptive parent appears on the birth certificate as the child’s parent, the child is no longer considered an Ivoirian citizen but rather as a child of a U.S. citizen and ineligible for an Ivoirian passport.
To apply for an Ivoirian passport, you should follow the steps below:
1. Download the form from: http://www.snedai.com/docs/formulaire_passeport_ci.pdf
(or obtain it directly from the passport agencies)
2. Pay the $75 application fee at the following bank agencies in Abidjan: Cobaci or Ecobank
3. Get the receipt of payment
4. Gather the required documents below:
- One photo ID of the child for the passport application
- Original birth certificate of the child
- Original certificate of Ivoirian citizenship (white color)
- Copy of the adoptive parents’ passports
- Original Full Adoption Decree (Jugement d’Adoption Plénière)
5. Take the above documents to one of the passport agencies listed below, all located in Abidjan:
- Plateau, Police Headquarters
- Cocody, Boulevard Latrille coming from Cocody, 200 m after Sococé on the left side, before the DUNCAN intersection.
- Marcory, GFCI, 100 m from the new market, going to Anoumambo.
- Yopougon, Selmer Sicogi, 100 m from the City Hall, going to William Ponty High School.
6. A registration receipt will be given. This receipt must be presented to pick up the passport when ready.
7. Processing time is approximately one week.
NOTE: More information may be obtained on the website: http://www.snedai.com
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 Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. 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.
You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy Abidjan’s website: http://abidjan.usembassy.gov.
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.
- Traveling Abroad
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to issue U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Côte d’Ivoire
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Côte d’Ivoire, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
- After Adoption
Côte d’Ivoire has no post-adoption requirements.
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family— whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some places to start your support group search:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway
- North American Council on Adoptable Children
- Adoption Services Support Groups for Adopting Persons
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
- Contact Information
U.S. Embassy in Côte d’Ivoire
U.S. Embassy Abidjan
01 B.P. 1712, Abidjan 01
Tel: (225) 22-49-40-00
Fax: (225) 22-49-42-02
Côte d’Ivoire Adoption Authority
Mr. le Directeur
Direction de la Protection Sociale
Direction Générale des Affaires Sociales
Ministère d’Etat, Ministère de l’Emploi, des Affaires Sociales et de la Solidarité
BP V 200 Abidjan 01
Tel: (225) 20 322 683 or 20 324 233
Monsieur le Président
Tribunal de Première Instance d'Abidjan
BP V 33 Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
Tel: (225) 20 223 586
Embassy of Côte d’Ivoire
Embassy of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire
2424 Massachusetts Avenue, NW,
Washington, D.C. 20007,
Telephone: (202) 797-0300.
Côte d’Ivoire also has consulates in: San Francisco, Stamford (CT), Orlando, Houston, and Detroit.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
For questions about filing a Form I-600A or I-600 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)