Uganda International Adoption Process and Cost

According to Viva publication, about 50,000 homeless Ugandan children find shelter in Children’s home. International adoption is, therefore, a great avenue for many. But what’s Uganda’s international adoption process like? As a prospective adoptive parent, how much will it cost you to adopt a Ugandan child? Let’s find out…

Uganda does not subscribe to The Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore, international adoption from Uganda follows the Orphan Process. This process is in accordance with the definition of orphans based on the U.S. Immigration Law and Nationality Act Section 101(b) (1) (F) )

The timeline for international adoption from Uganda varies between 18 to 36 months. This period is determined by many various factors such as the age of the child, gender, and date of your dossier documents submission. Your target adoption country will also determine the duration time frame.

Prospective adoptive parents with more than 5 children are not considered for adoption. However, there is no strict set of minimum financial condition. The total estimated cost for Uganda adoption ranges from $30,000 to $ 40,000.

 International Adoption From Uganda- Children Available

Some of the Ugandan children available for international adoption are healthy while others are special needs children. Their ages vary between 2 to 8 years.

Most of the children have been abandoned by their parents due to poverty or marriage breakups and need permanent homes. Others are rendered homeless after losing both parents as a result of HIV/AIDS.

international adoption from uganda

Who Qualifies For International Adoption From Uganda?

International adoption from Uganda is open for both Ugandan citizens and foreigners.

They must, however, fulfill the following conditions:

  • At least 25 years but not older than the child  by less than 21 years
  • Married couples irrespective of  their marriage duration
  • Single parents but only if adopting a child of the same gender
  • Should have a clearance document in order to confirm they’ve no criminal record
  • Must have proof from their country to show they are eligible to adopt
  • Where applicable, must have fostered the child for at least 36 months under the close supervision of a qualified Probation Officer

Authority Responsible for Uganda International Adoption

International adoption from Uganda is overseen by The Department of Youth and Child Affairs. It operates under the Ministry of Gender Social Development and Labour.

Uganda’s international adoption is guided by the Children Act. The act, therefore, provides for legislation that steers all aspects of legal fostering, adoption, and guardianship.

It’s only the Ugandan’ High Court that is empowered by law to grant Adoption Orders or guardianship to adoptive parents.

International Adoption From Uganda-The Process

International adoption from Uganda requires adoptive parents to follow the following steps to ensure a successful completion:

1)     Choose a suitable Adoption Service Provider (ASP) that is accredited by the U.S

2)     Apply in order to be found eligible to adopt

3)     Wait so that you are matched with a child through referral

4)     Adopt the child or obtain the child’s legal custody in Uganda

5)     Apply in order for the child be found to qualify as an orphan

6)     Bring your adopted child home following a successful adoption process in Uganda

1. Choose a suitable Adoptive Service Provider (ASP)

As a U.S citizen, you’ve to search and choose only an Accredited/Approved Adoption Service Provider in the United States since they are the only agencies authorized to offer international adoption services.

In order to ensure that their operations are monitored, ASPs must be licensed by the U.S state under whose region they operate.

So as to assist prospective Adoptive parents to select ASPs, The U.S. Department of State has in its website, Adoption Service Provider Search link for Accredited Adoption Service Providers.

2. Apply in order to be found eligible to adopt

You must comply with the Uganda government’s requirements as well as the U.S immigration laws in order to successfully adopt a Ugandan child.

You need to apply to be found eligible to adopt a Ugandan child.  This petition to adopt is filed in Uganda’s High Court because it’s the only institution mandated by law to evaluate prospective adoptive parents in Uganda

So as to fulfill the U. S. immigration law, you must submit a petition for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to be found eligible to adopt. You will require Form I-600A.

Before the Uganda High Court evaluates the petition to adopt, they must have evidence that your country has approved of you as qualified to adopt.

To ensure the adoption process runs smoothly, you should submit and receive your I-600A approval before your lawyer files the petition with the High Court of Uganda.

3. Wait and be matched with a child

If a suitable child is available for international adoption, your ASP or any other authorized body in Uganda will provide you with a referral that you can either accept or reject.

As a prospective adoptive family, ensure that you’ll be able to provide for all the child’s needs including a permanent home before accepting the referral.

Once you accept the referral, the adoption process continues. Since the child had fulfilled Uganda’s adoption requirements, it’s a requirement that the definition of an orphan under the U.S. immigration law is fulfilled.

4. Adopt the child or obtain the child’s legal custody in Uganda

At this stage, different roles are played by different entities to ensure that the adoption process ends successfully. This final stage is characterized by:

Adoption Authority Role

The Ministry of Justice, Labour, and Social Development, through its Department of Youth and Child Affairs, oversees the operations of Probation and Social Welfare Officers who are in charge of the adoption process.

The role of the Officers is to monitor and report on the progress of adoptive parents during the fostering period which is 36 months. Save for instances where there may be exceptions, their mandate is to assess if the intended international adoption will be good for the Ugandan child.

During this period, both the adoptive parents and the Probation and Social Officers must collaborate for a successful adoption process. This assessment has to be done in the region where the child resides

Role of the High Court In International Adoption

The High Court has the final authority to grant adoption and guardianship orders during adoption. It’s only when both the child and the adoptive parents are Ugandans that Local Magistrate Courts can process adoption orders.

For Uganda-Americans, the legal guardianship must only be pursued through the High. Ugandan judges treat parents with dual citizenship as both Ugandans as well as foreigners.

Adoptive Parents pursuing international adoption must therefore only file petitions with the High Court since orders issued by Magistrate Courts cannot facilitate the child’s immigration.

There are instances where High Court Judges exercise discretion. In such cases, the judge may allow a child to emigrate to the U.S without the completion of the 36-month foster period.

In the case of the U.S citizens, the prospective adoptive parents may be granted an Immediate Relative 4 visa (IR-4) in order to allow the child to emigrate to be adopted in the U.S.

Role Adoption Agencies

There are currently no adoption agencies in Uganda but only American ASPs. Therefore, to refer children for international adoption, ASPs have to work very closely with orphanages.

Before children are referred for inter-country adoption, they’ve to be evaluated by the Probation and Social Welfare Officers who assess their eligibility for international adoption.

It’s recommended that prospective parents hire qualified local Ugandan Attorneys. This is to ensure that all legal requirements are fulfilled during adoption process.

Note:  U.S Embassy does not offer recommendations for legal services offered by Ugandan attorneys.   It’s therefore upon you as a prospective adoptive parent to research and identify a suitable Adoption Lawyers and Law Firms in Uganda.

Application for Adoption

After receiving a referral and accepting the Ugandan child you want to adopt, your adoption lawyer needs to file a petition Ugandan High Court.

Prospective adoptive parents who are U.S citizens need to provide clear details in the petition so as to avoid possible hitches. The petition document must indicate that they need the child to immigrate to the United States, and it’s where they ultimately intend to adopt the child.

During the application, adoptive parents must be physically present in order to prove that they are the real applicants. Further, the local Probation and Social Welfare Officer is required to submit a report which should include his/her recommendations.

However, on specific situations, the authorities or individuals may be asked by the High Court Judge to submit a special report or affidavit(s) which is relevant to the filed adoption petition.

Usually, the child’s living relatives are asked to physically appear in court in order to submit affidavits regarding the child’s circumstances.

International Adoption From Uganda-The Time Frame

Both the Ugandan High Court and the U.S Embassy in Kampala have to process the adoption application. Therefore, as prospective parents, you’ll have to wait for the processes to complete.

On average, the court’s process will take about 1-3 Weeks. This starts from the initial court appearance to time when the High Court issues the adoption order or legal guardianship, up to the time the Judge Issues court’s written ruling.

 Before the Ugandan Immigration Authority assesses the passport application made on behalf of the adopted child, it will need the court’s ruling and approval documents from the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development.

The processing of both the Ugandan birth certificate and passport takes approximately 4 weeks. However, and the process can only begin after the Ugandan High Court has made a ruling (Issued an adoption order)

Child’s Medical Examination

After successfully processing the child’s passport, he/she needs to undergo a medical examination by the Panel Physician.  Upon completion, the processing of the child’s emigration visa at the U.S Embassy now begins. This is necessary to ensure that the child travels to the United States legally as an emigrant.

Apart from the trip during the 36-month fostering periods, some adoptive families have to later make 2 more trips. The first trip is for the physical appearance in court during the adoption application filing. The final trip is when applying for the adopted child’s immigration visa.

Your Ugandan family lawyer can facilitate the process of both the birth certificate and the passport on your behalf.

Uganda Adoption Application Documents

During the adoption application, the following documents will have to be submitted to Ugandan High Court:

  • The Adoptive Parents’ Marriage Certificates t
  • Police clearance from adoptive parent’s country of residence
  • Proof  of financial ability to adopt (Bank statements, Income Statements, etc)
  • Report submitted by Probation and Social Welfare Officer. If a foreigner, a U.S. Home Study documents.
  • A complete file of the child from an orphanage or the children’s home he/she has been. Proof that the child was registered in the orphanage/children’s home
  • Proof that the child’s home/orphanage has been approved by the Ministry of Gender, Social Development, and labor to refer needy orphans for international adoption.
  • Child’s Care Order document issued by the office of the local magistrate
  • Where applicable you need to provide Police Report
  • Report on the child’s condition from Probation and Social Welfare Officer.
  • Affidavit by Children’s Home Director or concerned social worker
  • Affidavit for the child’s close relatives or individuals with full knowledge of the child’s background and situation

Note: Where necessary, additional documents may be remanded by the court

Issuance of Adoption Order / Legal Guardianship Decree

After Ugandan High Court if fully satisfied with all the documents and conditions, it will issue a child adoption order or a guardianship decree in order to facilitate the child’s emigration and final adoption by the adoptive parent(s) abroad.

There has to be an assurance the country where the child will be adopted will respect the adoption order or legal guardianship issued by the High Court of Uganda.

For a child adopted by the U.S. citizens, this is assurance is based on requirements detailed in The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2,000

Authentication of Documents

The Ugandan Court may ask that all documents presented have proof of originating from the United States. The Department of State, Authentication Office, will provide the necessary assistance you may need.

5. Apply for the Child to be found to Qualify as an Orphan

After successfully getting the child’s legal custody (adoption), it should be determined by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services whether the adopted child fulfills the definition of Orphan under the U.S. immigration law

In order to apply, you’ll be required to file Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.  

In some instances, prospective adoptive parents who are U.S. citizens are required to submit the I-600 petition within the U.S which allows them to only apply for an immigrant visa at the U.S Embassy in Kampala, Uganda.

If this happens to be your case, you’re advised to you check the USCIS’ application guidelines, and ensure that you skip Section 6 that deals with immigration visa requirements.

For the adoptive parents filling the I-600 at the U. S Embassy in Uganda which is the common scenario, you can combine your I-600 petition appointment with that of your adopted child’s immigration visa.

Appointment Scheduling In the U.S

There are two appointments that you’ll be required to schedule. The initial one will be for the submission of your child’s Immigration visa application documents. The second appointed will be to attend the visa as the adoptive parent.

Please note that if you’re beneficiaries of the immediate relative petition, interviews will ONLY possible through an appointment. The Embassy’s Consular Section has, therefore, dedicated hours on Monday and Wednesday afternoons specifically for immigration visa interviews.

As adoptive parents, you can only contact the Consular Section for an appointment after all your documents have been found to be satisfactory.

If you’re U. S. parents, ensure that you have the following documents before scheduling an appointment:

  1. Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphans as an Immediate Relative
  2. Application for Immigrant Visa Application Form DS-230
  3. Form DS-1981, Affidavit Concerning an exemption from Immigrant Vaccination Requirements (Applies to children who are below 10 years)
  4. Form I-864, Affidavit of Support or I-864 in case a final and complete adoption process has been finalized in Uganda. Also, Tax returns covering the last 3 tax years.
  5. Your child’s birth certificate
  6. The Child’s Passport
  7. Irrevocable Relinquishment of the child’s custody from either an institution or person who previously had the custody. This should be English as well as in the native language of the person.
  8. 4 Passport Photographs measuring 2”x2”
  9. Order and ruling of the court with the petitioner’s name or an adoption order bearing the petitioner’s name.

6. Bringing Your Child Home

Having successfully acquired the legal custody of the child (adopted), you’ll have to process the following documents before applying for your child’s U.S immigration visa:

1. Child’s Birth Certificate

The processing of the birth certificate is necessary for the application of a Ugandan passport. For the U.S. adoption, the birth certificate may still bear the name of the biological parent(s). This can later be changed.

Your lawyer can easily facilitate the processing of the birth certificate on your behalf. For inquiries on Birth certificates, you can check the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) website

2. The Child’s Ugandan Passport

The passport is necessary to enable the child to travel from Uganda to the United States. The passport processing is undertaken by Uganda’s Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration

3. U.S. Immigrant Visa

It’s the immigration visa that will allow your child to travel with you without any hitches to the United States as an immigrant. Before the immigration visa is processed, you’ll have to furnish the Consular Office with Panel Physician’s medical examination report on the adopted child.

After the medical report is provided, and the visa interview conducted, the child’s immigration visa will be ready in about 2 days.

You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the United State Embassy website,  Kampala, Uganda

The Cost of Adopting From Uganda

The average estimate total cost for Uganda adoption ranges from $ 35,740 to $ 37,890. Other estimated costs include: Adoption Program Fee: $14,500, and Country Travel expenses: $21,240 to $23,390.

The table below shows Cost Estimates for Different Adoption Expenses

Adoption Costs Descriptions. Cost Estimates ($)
Adoption Program costs  
Travel Expenses $21,240-$23,390
Court Fee $100
Average Attorney’s Fee $500-$2,000
Birth Certificate $2
Ugandan Passport $32
Other Expenses to consider:  
Documentation & Authentication  
Child fostering expenses  
Medical Examination expresses  
Average Total Cost estimate $ 35,740-$37,890

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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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