Democratic Republic of the CongoLast Updated: May 2012
Hague Adoption Convention Country?NO
Alerts & Notices
- Hague Convention Information
The Democratic Republic of the Congo 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).
Democratic Republic of the Congo Immigration Exit Permit for Children
The U.S. Embassy would like to alert prospective adoptive parents that it is mandatory to obtain a special authorization permit from the office of immigration (DGM) in Gombe, Kinshasa in order to depart the Democratic Republic of the Congo with your adopted child. Congolese Immigration Authorities informed the U.S. Embassy that the prospective adoptive parent or a person with a properly executed power of attorney for the prospective adoptive parent must apply in person for the exit permission. Please note that the power of attorney must/must be executed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and processing can take many days. At present there is no fee for this service.
- Who Can Adopt
To bring an adopted child to the United States from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 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 orphan under U.S. law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States on an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, you must also meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
- RESIDENCY: No requirements.
- AGE OF ADOPTING PARENTS: Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than the intended adoptee. This “15-year rule” may be waived if the adoptee is a biological child of one of the parents. There is no age limit for adopting parents.
- MARRIAGE: Adopting parents may be married, single, widowed or divorced. Persons in the last three groups may not adopt a child of the opposite sex unless the court grants an exemption. Couples should have been married for at least five years.
- INCOME: No requirements.
- OTHER: Gays and lesbians or same-sex couples are not permitted to adopt by the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Any person who has a prior history of child abuse is also not permitted to adopt. No couple may adopt more than three children unless a subsequent prospective adoptee is the biological child of one of the parents. Parents may not already have more than two children when they adopt unless the child they are adopting is a sibling of one of their children. No adoptive parent may marry the adopted child. There is no medical ineligibility for adoptive parents.
- Who Can Be Adopted
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption:
- RELINQUISHMENT: Parents must give written consent ("autorisation parentale")
- ABANDONMENT: Social Services must provide a PV Tutelage Report ("Proces-Verbal de Constat d'Abandon d'un Enfant") in all cases of abandonment, including an absence of parents due to loss, separation, death, desertion, or disappearance of the biological parents.
- AGE OF ADOPTIVE CHILD: There is no age limit for prospective adoptees. Adoptees fifteen years and older must give consent to the adoption. Please note, however, that in order for a child to meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-600 petition must be filed while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if adopted, or to be adopted, together with a sibling under the age of 16).
- SIBLING ADOPTIONS: No known requirements.
- SPECIAL NEEDS OR MEDICAL CONDITIONS: No known requirements.
- WAITING PERIOD OR FOSTER CARE: None
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, with the intention of returning for the child when they are able to do so. In such cases, the birth parent(s) rarely would have relinquished their parental rights or consented to their children's adoption.
- How To Adopt
Democratic Republic of the Congo's Adoption Authority
Ministry of Justice
While the Ministry of Justice has jurisdiction over adoption, several ministries in the Congolese government participate in enforcing adoption law and policies. Individual cases are handled by the Tribunal pour Enfants in the region where a prospective adoptive child resides. Attorneys have current contacts at appropriate courts. The local “commune” or township and its trustee council create the Abandonment document, designate the abandoned child as a Ward of the State, and consign the child to foster care or an orphanage. The Ministry of Social Affairs is charged with the role of protection of “vulnerable children,” which can impact adoption policies. The Direction Generale d’Immigration (DGM) controls the departure of children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The process for adopting a child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo generally includes the following steps:
- Choose an adoption service provider
- Apply to be found eligible to adopt
- Be matched with a child
- Adopt the child in the democratic republic of the congo
- Apply for the child to be found eligible for adoption
- Bring your child home
- Choose an Adoption Service Provider
The recommended first step in adopting a child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo 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 adoption agencies in Democratic Republic of the Congo, however, orphanages must be licensed or accredited by the Congolese government. It is customary and accepted practice to engage Congolese lawyers to carry out adoption proceedings. Lawyers are automatically accredited by the government by virtue of their professional training. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa maintains a list of attorneys on its website who have expressed a willingness to work with U.S. citizens. This list does not imply an endorsement of specific attorneys by the Embassy.
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo 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. If prospective adoptive parents choose the adoptive child at an orphanage, they do so according to their own criteria (age, gender, etc.).
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to the Democratic Republic of the Congo'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.
- Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo generally includes the following:
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: Although the Ministry of Justice has jurisdiction over adoptions, individual cases are handled by the Tribunal pour Enfants in the region where a prospective adoptive child resides. Mailing addresses do not exist as there is no mail service. Attorneys have current contacts at appropriate courts.
- ROLE OF THE COURT: The court requires consent to the adoption before granting a judgment. Biological parents, or appointed guardians, must give their consent, if applicable. If no family members or guardians are identified, the court will determine consent. Any child over the age of 15 must give his or her own consent.
After obtaining the proper consent, the prospective adoptive parents request a hearing in open court at the Tribunal pour Enfants in the area where the child resides. Parents must submit copies of their birth certificates and the birth certificate of the prospective adoptee. The court will require proof that any and all interested family members of the child have been informed of the adoption and have received notice of the court hearing. After the initial hearing, the court conducts an investigation to determine that all conditions for placement or final adoption have been met and that all documents are legitimate.
Once the investigation is completed and all requirements have been satisfied, the court will issue a judgment of adoption. The date of the adoption will be retroactive to the date of the first court appearance. The adopted child's name on the judgment will incorporate his/her original name along with the newly adopted family name, but adoptive parents must ensure that the names on the local and U.S. documents match. At the time of adoption, choices concerning Congolese citizenship will be made by the adoptive parent (in the case of minors) or by the adoptee (if 18 years or older). The adoptive parents must register the judgment at the local city hall or magistrate within one month or the adoption is null and void. This is done either where the adoptive parents live (if they live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) or where the child resides (if the adoptive parents do not live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
- ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: There are no local adoption agencies in Democratic Republic of the Congo, however, many orphanages are licensed or accredited by the Congolese government. It is customary and accepted practice to engage Congolese lawyers to carry out adoption proceedings. Lawyers are automatically accredited by the government by virtue of their professional training. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa maintains a list of attorneys on its web site who have expressed a willingness to work with U.S. citizens. This list does not imply an endorsement of specific attorneys by the Embassy.
- ADOPTION APPLICATION: Prospective parents apply for permission to adopt by sending a letter to the Tribunal pour Enfants in the region where the child resides. Postal delivery is not available, so a letter should be sent by messenger or delivered by hand. There is no application form. The Judge from the Tribunal pour Enfants approves foreign adoptive parents for adoption.
- TIME FRAME: It can take from a minimum of three months to approximately one year to complete the adoption process from child placement to visa issuance, although some cases can take considerably longer.
- ADOPTION FEES: Court fees for an adoption case range up to approximately $300. Lawyer fees can range from $5,000-6,000. Fees can be kept to a minimum if, prior to the first consultation, adopting parents secure any required documents such as birth, death, marriage and relevant court records on their own. In addition to these fees, prospective adoptive parents may be expected to pay for the care and feeding of the child after the adoption has concluded and before the U.S. immigrant visa is issued, as well as all fees for passport issuance and exit permits.
- DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: The adopting parents must submit copies of their own birth certificates, the birth certificate of the prospective adoptive child, police certificates from the adoptive parents' place of birth, and attestations of good conduct from their city hall or local embassy or consulate.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested.
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status
After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 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.
- 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
Adoptive parents are advised that the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa does not accept "Attestation de Naissance" for immigration purposes because the "Attestation de naissance" is simply a report of birth used for administrative purposes. It has no juridical value and its validity is three months.
We do accept the following civil documents as proof of birth:
- The "Acte de naissance" which is a genuine birth document needs to be issued within 30 days of the birth and its validity is for lifetime. In case the "Acte de naissance" was not issued within 30 days, the applicant needs to get a "jugement supplétif" from the court having jurisdiction over his/her place of residence. The jugement will help the applicant obtain a valid birth certificate.
- "Extrait d'Acte de Naissance" is a genuine birth document and is also accepted, it is issued for lost/stolen "Acte de Naissance"
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.
Congolese birth certificates may be obtained at the commune of birth of the child. The child may retain his or her own name; however, if the adoptive family wishes the child to acquire their name, this can be done via a "judgment d 'adoption." Then the family may return to the commune and seek an amended birth certificate.
- Congolese Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Parents or lawyers should go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to apply for a Congolese passport for the adoptive child. The price is approximately $150 dollars and takes approximately 2 weeks.
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 an U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the United States Embassy in Kinshasa. 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.
In addition to Form I-600 (Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative) and other supporting U.S. documents, adoptive parents applying for immigrant visas for their children adopted from the Democratic Republic of the Congo should present the following Congolese documents to the consular officer:
- Birth Certificate (Acte de Naissance)
- Act of Adoption (Acte d'Adoption)
- Adoption Decree (Judgment d'Adoption)
- PV Tutelage Report (Proces-Verbal de Constat D'Abandon d'un Enfant): The PV Tutelage Report is required if the orphan was abandoned by the biological parent(s). This report is completed by Social Services.
- Parental Authorization (Autorisation Parentale): The Authorization Parental is required when a biological parent is directly releasing his/her child for adoption and emigration.
- Ward of the State Document (Attestation de Placement du Pupille de l'Etat): This document is required if the local government has terminated the parental rights of the biological parent(s).
- Indigence Report (Attestation d'Indigence.): The Indigence Report is often required when the orphan has known biological parent(s).
- Death Certificate (Acte de Deces): The Death Certificate is required when the biological parent(s) have passed away. Please note that each case may require different documents. The Consul may request additional documents to be provided following the interview. Please note that the Consular Section only accepts the legal death certificate produced by the local commune, not a hospital death certificate.
The Consular Section schedules all interviews for adoption cases. Interviews are held on Monday afternoons, following a document drop off on the Thursday before. Processing time for cases vary. Some visas are ready in approximately ten days, but many take longer to process. When the required documents are ready and the passport has been issued please contact KinshasaAdoptions@state.gov to schedule an interview appointment.
You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa website.
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.
In order to adopt a child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; you will need to meet the requirements of the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and U.S. immigration law. You must submit an application to be found eligible to adopt with the Ministry of Justice.
Prospective adoptive parents need to seek adoption through a lawyer directly with the court. There are no application forms to fill out. Prospective Adoptive Parents should know that, in the case of children who are Wards of the State, the “Guardianship Council” of the local government must first release the child for adoption.
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.
- Traveling Abroad
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required to use a valid U.S. passport to enter or depart the United States. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify 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 Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you 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 attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 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 register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, registration 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
POST-ADOPTION/POST-PLACEMENT REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
The Democratic Republic of the Congo does not have any 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:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
- Contact Information
U.S. Embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
U.S. Embassy Kinshasa
310, Avenue des Aviateurs
République Démocratique du Congo
Tel: (243) 81 884-6623 or (243) 81 556-0151
Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Adoption Authority
The Ministry of Justice has jurisdiction over adoption; however, individual cases are handled by the Tribunal pour Enfants in the region where a prospective adoptive child resides. Attorneys have current contacts at appropriate courts. The local “commune” or township and its trustee council generally create the Abandonment document and often designate an abandoned child as a Ward of the State, and consign the child to foster care or an orphanage. The Ministry of Social Affairs has a more centralized role in the protection of “vulnerable children.” The Direction Generale d’Immigration (DGM) controls the departure of children from the democratic Republic of the Congo.
Contact Information for democratic Republic of the Congo Adoption Authorities
Division of Urbaine des Affaires Sociale
33 Avenue Busudjano
Quartier Ancien Combattant
Commune de Kasavubu
Ville de Kinshasa, R.D. Congo
Tel: +243 82 209 7748
Tribunal Pour Enfants
Terrain Saint Therese
Quartier 5 Commune de N’Djili
Ville de Kinshasa, R.D. Congo
Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
1726 M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel: (202) 234-7690
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)