NigeriaLast Updated: October 2010
Hague Adoption Convention Country?NO
Alerts & Notices
Adoption Notice for Nigeria January 29, 2013
- Hague Convention Information
Nigeria is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, when the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008, intercountry adoption processing for Nigeria did not change.
PLEASE NOTE: Document and identity fraud related to adoptions is a serious concern in Nigeria. The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos requires that most adoptions be investigated in person in the state where the adoption took place to verify the authenticity of the information provided in the adoption decrees and I-600 petitions. For security reasons, U.S. government personnel are frequently restricted from traveling to certain parts of the country, which can cause these investigations to take an average of six months.
Nigerian adoption laws are complex and vary from state to state. In general, prospective adoptive parents who intend to adopt a specific child must first obtain temporary custody of the child. Prospective adoptive parents are advised to obtain information on adopting in individual states through the state social welfare office. Please note that the only proper and legal way to do an adoption in Nigeria is to work with the respective state social welfare office (usually named the State Ministry of Women's or Family Affairs). Prospective parents should not attempt to process their adoption through local officials who may attempt to circumvent the legal process.
Nigerian law, while inconsistently applied among different states, says that non-Nigerians may not adopt in Nigeria.
- Who Can Adopt
To bring an adopted child to United States from Nigeria, you must be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Nigeria also has the following eligibility requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
- RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Nigerian law requires that a parent-child relationship be established before the court decision can be considered final. Each state determines the length of time it takes to establish the parent-child relationship.
- AGE REQUIREMENTS: In Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers, prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years of age and 21 years older than the child. For married couples, at least one parent must meet the age requirements.
- MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: Both single individuals and married couples may adopt. Note that a single person will not be allowed to adopt a child of the opposite sex, except in extraordinary circumstances. In most states, married couples must adopt jointly.
- INCOME REQUIREMENTS: Nigeria does not have any income requirements for intercountry adoptions.
- NIGERIAN HERITAGE: While the law is inconsistently applied among different Nigerian states, Nigerian law says that non-Nigerians may not adopt in Nigeria.
- Who Can Be Adopted
In addition to Nigeria's requirements for the adoption eligibility, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law for you to bring him or her home back to the United States. Learn more about these U.S. requirements.
- How To Adopt
Nigeria's Adoption Authority
The Magistrate Court (from the state where the child resides)
The process for adopting a child from Nigeria 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 Nigeria
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
- Bring Your Child Home
- Choose an Adoption Service Provider:
The first step in adopting a child from Nigeria is usually to select a licensed agency in the United States that can help with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate.
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:
To bring an adopted child from Nigeria to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-600A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.In addition to meeting the U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, you need to meet the requirements of Nigeria as described in the "WHO" tab.
- Be Matched with a Child:
If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Nigeria will provide you with a referral to a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of a particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Nigeria's requirements, as described in the "Who" tab. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law. Learn more.
- Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Nigeria:
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Nigeria generally includes the following:
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The social welfare office of the state where the child is located is considered the adoption authority. The application for adoption originates from the social welfare office of the state where the child is located. Prospective parents should not attempt to begin the adoption process through local officials instead of the state social welfare office. The Government office responsible for adoptions in Nigeria is the magistrate court of the state where the child is located.
ROLE OF THE COURT: In most Nigerian states, the adoption process begins when an application for an adoption order is made in accordance with local requirements and submitted to the registrar of the competent court. The court then assigns a guardian ad litem for the child to represent him/her in the adoption proceedings. The guardian ad litem is the social welfare officer in charge of the area where the juvenile resides, or a probation officer or some other person suitably qualified in the opinion of the court of assignment. The guardian ad litem investigates the circumstances related to the proposed adoption and files a report to the court. The guardian ad litem represents the child's interests until the magistrate questions the prospective adoptive parents and grants the adoption order giving legal custody to the adoptive parents.
The guardian ad litem investigates the circumstances relevant to the proposed adoption and reports in writing to the court. Prospective adoptive parents must inform the social welfare officer of their intention to adopt at least three months before the court order is made. For at least three consecutive months immediately preceding an adoption order, the child must have been in the physical care and legal custody of the applicant parents in Nigeria. An applicant cannot have the child reside with another family member in lieu of living with the applicant, even if a Power of Attorney is in effect.
The social welfare officer visits the home of the adoptive parents until the officer is satisfied that the juvenile is settled and the prospective adoptive parents are capable of looking after him or her. In such a case, the social welfare officer reports in writing a positive recommendation to the court. The magistrate will meet the adoptive parents in court to confirm their suitability and will issue or deny the adoption order.
After the adoption order has been issued, adoptive parents should obtain a new birth certificate for the child listing them as the child's parents. In some states, after the adoption has been granted, the adoptive parents must obtain the court's permission to remove the child from Nigerian jurisdiction, either temporarily or permanently. In addition, the social welfare officer might be required to submit a letter to the Nigerian immigration office, stating that the adoptive parents are now the legal parents of the child. This letter then permits the adopting parents to apply for a passport to take the child out of Nigeria.
Note: Proxy adoptions are not valid in Nigeria. Adoptive parents who complete adoptions by proxy without fulfilling state requirements risk having their I-600 petitions returned to USCIS for revocation.
- ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos is not aware of any legally recognized Nigerian agencies that assist adopting parents or any licensed Nigerian adoption agencies. Prospective adoptive parents can seek the assistance from a Nigerian attorney to facilitate the adoption process.
- ADOPTION APPLICATION: The application is submitted to the registrar of the competent court.
- TIME FRAME: Adoption procedures can take from a few months to over a year depending on the child's state of origin.
- ADOPTION FEES: There are no standard fees charged apart from small filing fees to the court.
- DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: The paperwork involved in Nigerian adoptions is extensive and time-consuming to locate. Prospective adoptive parents are advised to consult with a Nigerian attorney about the document requirements for the state where they are adopting. The following is a list of some of the required documents:
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Divorce decrees (where applicable)
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.
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:
After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Nigeria, the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) MUST determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted (Form I-600). Learn how.
- Bringing Your Child Home:
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Nigeria.
In some states, after the adoption has been granted, the adoptive parents must obtain the court's permission to remove the child from Nigerian jurisdiction, either temporarily or permanently. In addition, the social welfare officer might be required to submit a letter to the Nigerian immigration office, stating that the adoptive parents are now the legal parents of the child. This letter then permits the adopting parents to apply for a passport to take the child out of Nigeria.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the U.S. Consulate General, Lagos for your child. Immigrant visas are only reviewed at the U.S. Consulate General, Lagos. 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.
Note: Although the U.S. Embassy is in Nigeria's capital (Abuja), immigrant visa cases are reviewed only at the U.S. Consulate General, Lagos.
PLEASE NOTE: Most applications for an immigrant visa for an adopted child at the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos will undergo full field investigations in the state where the adoption took place to verify the authenticity of the information provided in the adoption decrees, I-600 petitions and supporting documents. This investigation also serves to verify that the child is an orphan as defined by U.S. immigration law and may include both documentary reviews and interviews with persons connected to the child's case. For security reasons, U.S. government personnel are frequently restricted from traveling to certain parts of the country, causing these investigations to take an average of six months.
Please also note: Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes 72 hours.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when the court in the United States issues the final adoption decree.
*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.
- Traveling Abroad
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Nigeria. 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 may also need to obtain a Nigerian 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 Nigeria, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
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's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Nigeria, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
- After Adoption
What does Nigeria require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
Nigerian law has no post-adoption requirements for adoptive parents. Parents should confirm any post-adoption requirements with their legal representatives.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some good 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. Consulate General, Lagos
2 Walter Carrington Crescent
Victoria Island, Lagos
Tel: (234)(1) 261-0050, 261-0078
U.S. Embassy in Nigeria
Plot 1075 Diplomatic Drive
Central Business District, Abuja, FCT
(Off Independence Avenue/Near the Ministry of Defense)
Nigeria's Adoption Authority
Magistrate Court (where child resides)
Embassy of the Republic of Nigeria
3519 International Court, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 775-8400
Fax: (202) 775-1385
Consulate General of Nigeria, Atlanta
8060 Roswell Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30350
Tel: (770) 394-6261
Fax: (770) 394-4671
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833) or visit www.uscis.gov