Congo International Adoption Process and Cost

The hands of civil war, poverty, diseases, and sexual violence have been cruel and heartless to many Congolese children. International adoption from Congo has, therefore, been a preferred choice for many adoptive parents. In this article, we evaluate the process and cost for international adoption from Congo.

Congo is not a Hague Adoption Convention country. As a prospective adoptive parent, the requirements for your successful International Adoption from Congo will be based on the Orphan Process.

However, if you’re a U.S citizen, you’ll be required to strictly follow the Hague Adoption Convention Process

The time frame for international adoption from Congo is not fixed but ranges from 16-28 months. Referral wait time can range between 3 months to 1 Year. It may take you 12 to 24 months for the final process to complete after the match.

The estimated costs for adopting from Congo:

  • Average Estimate total cost: between $25,000 to $40,000.
  • Application & Documentation Expenses: $ 2,000-$3,000.
  • Childcare & Medical Fees -$3,000-$ 4,000
  • Legal Fee-$ 5,000-$6,000

Congolese Children Waiting For Adoption

Out of a population of close to 70% million, 15% of children below the age of 18 years are orphans. Most of the children in dire need of love, care, and permanent homes through adoption, are newborns and teenagers of up to 16 years.

Some of the options available for adoptive parents are:

  • Infants and teenagers (both boys and girls)
  • Maximum adoption of 3 siblings
  • Adopting unrelated children (One one at any given time)

A child must fulfill the following conditions for international adoption from Congo:

  • Qualify as an orphan based on the U.S immigration law
  • If not abandoned or deceased, the parent (s) should voluntarily sign him/her up for adoption
  • If over 15 years, he/she must at his or her own will consent to the adoption
  • The local “Guardianship Council” must find him/her eligible for adoption.
international adoption from congo-orphans

Who Qualifies To Adopt From Congo?

Just like any other country, the DRC has its own laws are requirements that will govern your process for international adoption from Congo.

As a prospective adoptive parent to qualify for International Adoption from Congo, you’ll need to comply with the following conditions:

  • Not less than 18 years and 15 years older than the child to be adopted. There is no limit on the maximum age
  • Couples who have married for at least 5 years (Same-sex couples are not eligible)
  • Be employed or have sufficient income to support the adopted child
  • Widowed, divorces persons or single parents
  • Should not have any single record linked to child abuse

Ministries Involved in Congo Adoption

5 Ministries that facilitate international adoption from Congo are:

  • Justice Ministry
  • Gender and Family: Provides approval for Congolese immigration to process and issue exit documents to adopted children.
  • Interior and Security, General Direction of Migration
  • Social Affairs (Division of Urban Affairs)
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Since DRC is a non-Hague Adoption Convention member, prospective parents who wish to adopt from the DRC have to resort to the Orphan process.

The Process For Congo International Adoption

The United States is the leading International adoption receiving country. Its citizens who plan to adopt from the DRC must follow The Hague Adoption process while adhering to the Congolese adoption laws and procedures.

As a U.S. citizen, the following are the key stages you’ll need to follow for your smooth International Adoption from Congo: 

  1. Choose an ASP
  2. Submit an application to be found eligible to be an adoptive parent
  3. Wait to be matched with a child based on your submitted documents
  4. Adopt the child in the democratic republic of the congo
  5. Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
  6. Bring your child home

1. Selecting a suitable U.S. Accredited/ Approved Adoption Service Provider (ASP

Identifying and selecting a suitable ASP that deals in International adoption from Congo is the initial stage of your process.

These are U.S Accredited and Approved agencies operating within the United States act will act as a link between you and your representatives in the DRC. A list of Accredited ASPs are here

Your ASP will ensure that you comply with all the key 6 adoption stages as captured in The Hague Adoption Convention.

You’re advised to get the services of accredited Congolese Family lawyers to facilitate your adoption process.

A list of DRC willing to serve the U.S adoptive families can be accessed through the U.S Embassy in Kinshasa.

2. Submission of Application through Form 1-6000 to  USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt

Before you can be matched with a child to adopt, both the U.S government and DRC will need to prove that you are eligible suitable to be an adoptive parent

If you’re a U.S citizen, you’ll need to submit your application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using form 1-600A.

You may be required to include all the necessary supportive documents such as a credible home study report.

3. Submit an Application to the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child

Once your application is approved by the U.S authority, you’ll need to submit your application to the DRC authority to be assessed if you’re legible to adopt from the country. Your application will include a dossier report

When both you and the child are found to be eligible, you’ll be provided with a referral whenever a suitable match is found

It’s important to note that the child to be adopted must also fulfill adoption requirements based on DRC adoption laws, and also fulfill the definition of an orphan based on the U.S immigration laws

On special conditions where a child is a “ward of the state“(ward of the court), the local government through its Guardianship Council will be mandated to release the child for adoption.

4. Adopt the Child in the Democratic Republic of Congo

After you receive a referral, you can decide whether to accept or decline based on your assessments. On acceptance, the adoption process will have to continue.

You’ll be required to submit your adoption application to both the Tribunal pour En fants and the Ministry of Gender and Family.

It’s the Tribunal that will oversee your adoption process in the DRC while the Ministry of Gender and Family will provide the final approval for your adoption.

The Adoption Authority in DRC has the general adoption oversight responsibility.  Its main responsibilities will be delegated among the following 5 ministries:

1. Ministry of Gender and Family.  

Its mandate is to provide the necessary protection of children and plays a coordination role during the creation of adoption policies.

 They have the final authority in approving adoptions. No exit permit can be issued to any adopted child without their approval.

Note: You are advised that your representative submits your dossier to the ministry earlier without having to wait for the issuance of Decree of Adoption  by the Tribunal pour En fants

2. Ministry of Justice.

The Justice Ministry is the legal adoption authority in Congo. It has jurisdiction over all the adoption courts and procedures in the country.

Adoptions cases are handled by Tribunal pour En fants. Your Congolese attorney will advise you accordingly on the court that will be convenient for your adoption hearing.

3. Ministry of Social Affairs, Division of Urban Affairs.  

The Ministry’s mandate is the protection of vulnerable children. They oversee the operations of the commune and social workers. Through its Guardianship Council within communities or townships, it helps in creating documents for relinquished or abandoned children.

 A child who qualifies as Ward of the State is then temporarily assigned to an orphanage or foster care.

Within the “commune” or township, the Ministry oversees local authorities responsible for maintaining birth and adoption records.

4. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is mandated to certify if an adopted child qualifies to be offered a Congolese passport. It also facilitates the issuance of the same upon approval.

5. The Ministry of Interior and Security, General Direction of Migration.

The ministry, through direction Generale d’Immigration (DGM), works towards the prevention of child trafficking. It’s responsible for the issuance of an exit permit to the adopted child. This allows the child to leave the country with his/her adoptive parents.

One of the DGM’s requirements is that when adoptive as a couple, both you and your partner must appear during the child’s permit application. If you are a single adoptive parent, you have to personally apply for the exit permit.

Before issuance of the child’s exit permit by the DGM, they’ll need to get approval from the Ministry of Gender and Family.

Application for Adoption

After accepting the referral, you’re required to submit your application letter only to the Tribunal pour En fants within the region that the child is staying. It’s only if the child’s region has no Tribunal pour En fants that an Adoption issued by Tribunal de Paix can be accepted.

Important Note:
  • DGM will NOT issue exit permits to children adopted in Tribunal de Paix if their adoption was completed AFTER June 12, 2013
  • No adoption agencies currently authorized to provide adoption services in DRC. U.S Adoption Agencies, however, have their local representatives in the DRC to assist you. Your ASP will guide you accordingly in identifying their local representatives.

Due to the current moratorium on the exit visas, the waiting time to get an exit permit for your child is indefinite.

In case of an appeal made on behalf of a child, it can take a further 3 to 6 months for the case to be investigated and reviewed after the Embassy receives the Form 1-600.

Which Document Will Be Needed?

During the adoption in DRC, you’ll be required to submit copies of the following documents:

  • Your birth certificate
  • Birth certificate of the adopted child
  • Police certificate issues from your place of residence, and proof of Good Conduct from your City Hall

5. Submit an Application through Form 1-600 for your child to be found eligible to immigrate to the United State as an orphan.

Once you’ve successfully adopted your child in Congo, and gained legal custody, The Department of Homeland Security, U.S Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS) will need to determine if the child meets their legal definition of Orphan (based on U.S. immigration laws).

International adoption-Immigration laws

You’ll, therefore, be required to submit an Application Form I-600. This is a Petition Form needed to classify the orphan (your adopted child) as your immediate relative.

Their approval of the child as eligible to migrate to the U.S will be necessary for his/her Visa processing. 

Which Documents Will Be Required?

Adoption Judgment from the Tribunal pour En fants stationed in the child’s area of residence

Adoption Decree or Act of Adoption

Certificate of Non-Appeal from the Magistrate in the child’s region or issued by a Magistrate in the region where Tribunal pour En fants is operating.

Birth Certificate of the child. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa will need the original certificate or a certified/official copy for the processing of the child’s visa.

Abandonment Report:

This report is compiled by Social Services and is only necessary when the child was abandoned by his/her biological parents.

The PV Tutelage Report:

Parental Authorization/ Adoption Consent: This is applicable in instances where a biological parent has decided to give the child up for adoption and emigration due to other factors.

Decree designating a child as a ward of the State and as such qualifies for adoption. The report has to be compiled by the Guardianship Council within the region where the child was born.

Ward of the State Document:

Necessary where the rights of the child’s biological parent(s) had been terminated by the local government.

Indigence Report:

Required when the biological parent(s) of the adopted child are known.

Death Certificate:

This is required if the biological parent(s) of the adopted child passed away. Note: The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa will only consider death certificate produced by the local commune as the legal one, but not that issued by a hospital. 

Your ASP will advise you accordingly if additional documents will be needed.

6. Process Visa and Bring Your Child Home

Adoptive mother-International Adoption
Adoptive mother playing with her children

This marks the final process. It involves processing your child’s travel documents before taking him/her home. The 3 mandatory documents are:

  1. Birth Certificate: After adopting the child, you’ll be required to apply for a new birth certificate.

Your name will have to be added as the child’s parent. The birth certificate will be required for the processing of the child’s passport.

  • DRC Passport: Either you or your lawyer will need to visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to apply for your child’s DRC Passport.
  • U.S. Immigration Visa: Once you’ve acquired your child’s new certificate, DRC passport, and have successfully submitted Form I-600, it’s time to apply for a U. S immigrant visa. This is done from the U.S. Embassy, Kinshasa.
Other Requirements:

You’ll be required to provide a “Panel Physician’s medical report for your adopted child.

It’s advisable that you make your travel arrangements in advance, and that all your traveling documents are in order.

The U.S currently discourages its citizens from traveling to DCR. The Department of State has issued a Cautionary Travel Advisory (Alert Level 3) on its website for your ready reference.

Ensure that you have the contact of the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa in case of any emergency. Notifying the U.S Embassy about your travel is advised.

It’s recommended that you enroll your travel with the U.S Embassy through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program for important alerts and emergency assistance.

Congo International Adoption Costs

The total cost of international adoption from Congo is not fixed. It’s determined by different expenses including your agent’s fee. Your professional ASP will provide you with details of all the necessary costs.

The estimated average total cost for Congo adoption ranges from $25,000 to $40,000 based on your program and selected service providers (agency and lawyer).

The table below shows the cost estimates for Congo inter-country adoption

Cost DescriptionEstimated Amount in $ Comment
Application & Documentation Expenses$2,000-$3,000 
Agency Fee$8,000-$10,000 
Foreign Program Expenses$3,000-$5,000 
Birth Certificate and Passport$ 220 (passport-$170, Birth Certificate-$50 If done by your lawyer, the cost is included in Lawyer’s fee
Childcare & Medical Fees$3,000-$4,000 
Lawyer Fee$5,000-$6,000 Can be less if the adoptive parents process other documents such as birth certificate, passport, etc on their own
Third-Party Expenses$2,000-$3,000 
Court  Fee$300  
Travel Expenses$10,000-$15,000 
Other Costs Additional costs: Caring and feeding of the child after the adoption process is concluded, and before visa and passport issuance.

Current Status On Congo International Adoption

Due to reported cases that were being linked to children trafficking, the DRC government, in 2013, suspended the issuance of exit permits to all its international adoption cases. This was to give room for the formulation of new effective policies.

international adoption from congo-Trafficking problem
International Adoption from Congo suspended due to cases of children trafficking

Currently, the government does not have comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation to combat illegal international adoption challenges.

DRC Suspension of Exit Permits-The Impacts

The moratorium has directly affected hundreds of children who had already been adopted by foreign families.

Following the suspension, the U.S Department of State issued an alert advising U.S citizens against initiating adoptions in the DRC.

According to the New York Times, 1,100 already adopted Congolese children have been kept away from their families in Europe, Canada, and the United States as a result of the suspension.

There are additional 400 children whose adoption by U. S families were affected by the moratorium.

The U.S government has continued to prevail upon the DCR to issue exit permits to all the affected children. They’ve become part of the many orphans trapped in the DRC with no place to call home.

DRC International Adoption- When Will The Suspension Be Lifted?

It’s difficult to predict but there is hope. The lifting of the ban after effective laws are put in place will eradicate instances of overseas smuggling of children.

According to a past Reuters report, about 150 children adopted by the U.S families had their exit visas approved by the DRC’s government’s inter-ministerial commission. This came 2 years after the suspension.

Any future update will be available on for your ready reference.

Other Better Adoption Links:

Meshack Sewe

Meshack, is a tech-savvy Creative Copywriter, Poet, & Entrepreneur who is very passionate about Adoption and Humanitarian activities. He has served as both Program Officer, and Program Manager with two Non-Governmental Organizations focusing on orphaned children and vulnerable girls

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