Somalia

Last Updated: May 2013

Hague Adoption Convention Country?

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Hague Convention Information

Somalia 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).

The Department of State has occasionally received inquiries from U.S. citizens concerned about the plight of the children of Somalia and wondering about the possibility of adopting them.  Our office shares this concern for children in Somalia and we understand that some U.S. citizens want to respond by offering to open their homes and adopting these children in need.  At this time, however, it is not generally possible to adopt Somali children for several reasons.

Although the United States has recently recognized the Somali government, an adoption authority does not yet exist in Somalia for adoption processing.

Laws in Somalia regarding adoption are unclear and may vary according to a prospective adoptive parent's religious background.  Islamic Shari'a law does not allow for full adoption of a child, as generally understood in the United States.  (Please refer to our flyer on Islamic Family Law for more information on this issue.)

Additionally, it can be extremely difficult in Somalia to determine whether children who appear to be orphans truly are eligible for adoption.  Children may be temporarily separated from their parents or other family members, and their parents may be looking for them.  It is not uncommon in a hostile situation for parents to send their children out of the area, or for families to become separated during an evacuation.  Even when it can be demonstrated that children are indeed orphaned or abandoned, they are often taken in by other relatives.  During times of crisis, it can also be exceptionally difficult to fulfill the legal requirements for adoption of both the United States and the child's country of origin.  It can be very difficult to gather documents necessary to fulfill the legal requirements of U.S. immigration law.

There are ways in which U.S. citizens can help the children of Somalia.  Many U.S. and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in Somalia say that what is needed most at this time are financial contributions to sustain their ongoing work.  Individuals who wish to assist can often do the most good by making a monetary donation to an established NGO that will be well placed to respond to Somalia's most urgent needs, including those related to its children.

The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against travel to Somalia, which remains very dangerous.  (Read the full text of Somalia Travel Warning issued by the Department of State, Office of Consular Affairs.)

Please visit the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for more information on travelling to Somalia and the U.S. Embassy Nairobi’s website for information on consular services.