Tuvalu

Last Updated: February 2009

Hague Adoption Convention Country?

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Hague Convention Information

Tuvalu 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 Tuvalu did not change.

There are two important points to consider when adopting a child from Tuvalu: 1) Only children below the age of 12 may be adopted; and 2) children who have attained the age of 10 years are usually, but not always, required to consent to their adoption.

Who Can Adopt

To bring an adopted child to United States from Tuvalu, 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). Learn more.

In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Tuvalu also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: There is no formal residency requirement for foreigners seeking to adopt in Tuvalu. However, adoptive parents must be physically present in court to file an application for adoption and must remain in Tuvalu until the final adoption order is granted.
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS: One prospective adoptive parent must be at least 25 years old, and both must be at least 21 years older than the child.
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: Applicants for an adoption should be a married husband and wife. The law permits an adoption order in favor of one person in "exceptional circumstances." However, a single male cannot adopt a female child.
  • INCOME REQUIREMENTS: Income should be above average and prospective adoptive parents should live in a suitable environment. Proof of income will have to be submitted to the central adoption authority.
  • OTHER REQUIREMENTS: The applicants must be of good character and have no adverse criminal record relating to any offense involving violence or abuse towards a child.

    The applicants must be mentally and physically fit to fulfill the responsibilities, evidenced by a medical report.

    The applicant must be able to provide a secure and stable home environment for the child.
Who Can Be Adopted

Tuvalu has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption. You cannot adopt a child in Tuvalu unless he or she meets the requirements outlined below.

In addition to these requirements, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law for you to bring him or her back to the United States. Learn more about these U.S. requirements.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

Relinquishment Requirements:

The prospective adoptive parents must obtain written consent from (a) the child, and (b) the child's parents or guardians.

Abandonment Requirements:

The prospective adoptive parents must obtain written consent from (a) the child, and (b) the child's parents or guardians.

AGE REQUIREMENTS:

Only children who have not attained the age of 12 years may be adopted. There is no provision in the law for adoption of children above the age of 12.

8. (1) Subject to this Act the Court may make an adoption order only where a child has not attained the age of 12 years before the date on which the application for adoption was filed in the Court.

Sibling Requirements:

None

Requirements for Special Needs or Medical Conditions:

welfare and interests of the child shall be regarded as the paramount consideration

Waiting Period:

Two months or less if all requirements are met.

How To Adopt

Tuvalu 's Adoption Authority
There is no support system or body in Tuvalu which oversees international adoptions. The Senior Magistrate Court handles international adoptions.

The Process

The process for adopting a child from Tuvalu 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 (or Gain Legal Custody) in Tuvalu
  5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
  6. Bring Your Child Home
  1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider

    The first step in adopting a child from Tuvalu 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. Learn more about choosing the right adoption service provider.

    There are no adoption agencies or non-government lawyers in Tuvalu. Attorneys resident in Suva, Fiji, occasionally handle cases in Tuvalu.

    There is only one private lawyer practicing in Tuvalu known as the "People's Lawyer" who is a volunteer on contract with the Tuvalu Government. The People's Lawyer may be contacted at:

    Office of the People's Lawyer
    Private Mail Bag
    Funafuti, Tuvalu
    Telephone: (688) 20721
    Fax: (688) 20730

    Prospective adoptive parents may have to seek the assistance of the People's Lawyer. Alternatively, prospective adoptive parents may seek assistance from the Attorney General's office.

    The Attorney General's office contact information is:

    Office of the Attorney General
    Private Mail Bag
    Funafuti
    Telephone: (+688) 20823
    Facsimile: (+688) 20819

  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

    To bring an adopted child from Tuvalu 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 Tuvalu as described in the Who Can Adopt section.

  3. Be Matched with a Child

    If you are eligible to adopt, , You are responsible to identitfy a child below the age of 12 years . 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 Tuvalu's requirements, as described in the Who Can be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law. Learn more.

  4. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Tuvalu

    The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Tuvalu generally includes the following:
    • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: There is no support system or body in Tuvalu which oversees international adoptions. There is one social welfare officer based at the Ministry of Home Affairs. The contact address is:

      Ministry of Home Affairs
      Phone number: (+688) 20174 or (+688) 20173.
      Facsimile number: (+688) 20821

      The Senior Magistrate Court is the Tuvaluan entity which handles adoption and remains involved throughout the adoption process. Their role is stated below.

      Note: Seek legal advice from the Attorney General's office and/or the People's Lawyer well in advance.

    • ROLE OF THE COURT: The prospective adoptive parents must file an Application for Adoption with the Senior Magistrate Court. The Court will then appoint the Tuvaluan Social Welfare Officer from the Ministry of Home Affairs as Guardian Ad Litem. The Social Welfare Department will conduct a home-study and investigation that assesses the prospective adoptive parents' character, financial competence and suitability, and report back to the Court. The Magistrate's Court will then consider whether to grant an Adoption Order based on the report. If the Social Welfare report is favorable, the court grants the Adoption Order.
    • ADOPTION APPLICATION: The best source for information about adoption in Tuvalu would be Tuvalu's Adoption Act, which can be located at: http://www.paclii.org/tv/legis/consol_act/aoca191/.

      Tuvalu's Adoption Act states at the outset that: "In all proceedings under this Act the welfare and interests of the child shall be regarded as the paramount consideration." Very generally, and in summary, the process as outlined in the legislation is as follows:
      • The prospective adoptive parents must obtain written consent from (a) the child, and (b) the child's parents or guardians.
      • The prospective adoptive parents may then file an Application for Adoption with the Senior Magistrate Court.
      • The Court appoints the Tuvaluan Social Welfare Officer from the Ministry of Home Affairs as Guardian Ad Litem. The Social Welfare Department conducts a home-study and investigation that assesses the prospective adoptive parents' character, financial competence and suitability, and reports back to the Court.
      • The Magistrate's Court considers whether to grant an Adoption Order based on the report. If the Social Welfare report is favorable, the court grants the Adoption Order.
      • The parents take the Adoption Order to the Tuvaluan Registrar General in order to amend the original birth record to reflect the completion of the adoption. The new parents are issued a new birth certificate showing the adoptive parents as the child's "Father" and "Mother."
    • TIME FRAME: The Department of State has been advised that it generally takes about two months to complete an adoption in Tuvalu, from filing the application until issuance of the adoption order.
    • ADOPTION FEES: The U.S. Government discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted, "donations," or "expediting" fees, that may be requested from prospective adoptive parents. Such fees have the appearance of "buying" a baby and put all future adoptions in Tuvalu at risk.

      Australian currency is used in Tuvalu. A court fee of Australian $6.00 is required to file the motion and receive the Adoption Order.

    • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: The Social Welfare Officer and the Senior Magistrate Court will require the prospective adoptive parents to submit the following documents:
      • Written consent of the child and the child's parents or guardians.
      • The child's original birth certificate.
      • Adoptive parents' criminal background, financial documents, employment references, evidence of property, etc.
      • Prospective adoptive parents' birth certificates, marriage license, and any divorce decrees from previous marriages.
      • Two written character references for the adoptive parents, preferably from people of high standing, such as church ministers, school principles, or government officials.
      • An independent home study report, conducted by their local social welfare agency.
      • Any other information tending to show that the adoption is in the best interest of the child. (e.g., a statement as to motives for adoption).

    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.

  5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption

    After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Tuvalu, 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.

  6. Bring 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:
    • Birth Certificate
      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.

      In order to do this, you will need to take the Adoption Order to the Tuvaluan Registrar General in order to amend the original birth record to reflect the completion of the adoption. The new birth certificate will show you, the adoptive parents, as the child's "Father" and "Mother."

    • Tuvaluan Passport
      Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Tuvalu.

    • 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 United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-600 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. 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. Learn more.

    NOTE : The U.S. Embassy cannot issue visas on the same day of the visa interview. Prospective adopting parents should expect a minimum of two days for the visa to be issued. American families should make their travel plans accordingly, including allowing for the possibility of computer difficulties or other problems that could potentially further delay visa issuance

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.

Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.

Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport

A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Tuvalu. 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 Tuvalu, 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 Tuvalu registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Registration is free and can be done online.

After Adoption

What does Tuvalu require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?

We strongly urge you to comply with the wish of Tuvalu and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country's history of positive experiences with American parents.

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. Embassy in Tuvalu
The United States does not have an Embassy or Mission in Tuvalu. The Embassy that covers Tuvalu is located in Fiji. That Embassy's Consular Section is located at:

The Embassy of the United States, Suva, Fiji
31 Loftus Street
P.O. Box 218
Suva, Fiji
Tel: (679) 331-4466
Fax: (679) 330-2267
Email: consularsuva@state.gov
Internet: http://suva.usembassy.gov

Tuvalu's Adoption Authority
Magistrate's Court
Funafuti, Tuvalu
Tel: (+688) 20837

Embassy of Tuvalu
Tuvalu does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Washington, D.C. Tuvalu's only official representative in the United States is at the United Nations in New York:

The Permanent Mission of Tuvalu to the United Nations
800 Second Avenue, Suite 400 B
New York, NY 10017
Tel: (+1 212) 490-0534
Fax: (+1 212) 808-4975

Office of Children's Issues
U.S. Department of State  
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor  
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
E-mail: AskCI@state.gov
http://adoption.state.gov

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)