There is always the question of who can adopt? You not only have to meet the requirements of the U.S. Immigration but you also have to meet the requirements of Nigeria.The Nigerian process varies by the Nigerian state in question. Most states require that the adoptive parents be Nigerian citizens or of Nigerian descent. In certain states you have to at least be 25 years old and 21 years older than the child. There is a mandatory foster care period where the adoptive parents care for the child prior to the adoption being finalized in Nigeria.
The entire process is handled through the state Ministry of Women's Affairs. The Ministry of Women's Affairs is essential to the adoption. They make the determination that adoption is in the child's best interests, match the child with the adoptive parents, and visit the child and the parents during the foster care period where the child is cared for by the adoptive parent in country.
Additionally, the U.S. couple of Nigerian descent must locate a primary provider in the U.S. to perform the home-study and the other adoption services that are not performed by the state Ministry of Women's Affairs. The U.S. couple files the I 600A in the U.S and undergoes screening to ensure that they are suitable to adopt. After the I600A is approved, the file is sent through the National Visa Center to the U.S. Embassy in Lagos. The family files the I-600 at the Embassy. From there, there is a mandatory investigation (up to 12 months), to determine if the child is truly an orphan according to U.S. immigration law. If the I-600 is approved, the next step is the visa application, medical exam, and visa approval. The family must also obtain a Nigerian passport for the child.
Nigeria has special requirements in addition to the U.S. immigration requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption.
Relinquishment: If children are allegedly relinquished by their parents and they are still living they will be investigated. The U.S. Consulate has found Nigerian parents will relinquish their children to a relative over in the United States so they can have the ability to immigrate to the U.S.
Abandonment: In Nigeria, abandonment is poorly documented so it may require a full investigation to confirm abandonment.
Age of Adoptive Child: The Adoption Act of 1965 says the child must be below the age of 16 or 17 according to the Child Rights Law in order to be adopted. U.S. law requires a child to be under the age of 16 at the time the I600A or I600 petition is filed unless the child is a natural sibling of a child that was already adopted by the same parents while under the age of 18.
Sibling Adoptions: In Nigeria, there are no specific guidelines regarding adopting siblings.
Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Nigeria will generally specify any special needs or address the general health of the child to be adopted. The U.S. home study should match any specifications of special needs that are observed by the Nigerian court.
For more information, including alerts and notices concerning Nigerian adoptions:
For general information on intercountry adoption, https://www.uscis.gov/adoption
Drafted by Brittany Alness, staff member of the Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC.
This blog and the information contained within have been prepared by Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to create, nor does receipt of it constitute an attorney-client relationship. Viewers should not act upon information found here without seeking legal counsel. All photographs shown on this blog are depictions of clients and are not actual clients of this law firm. Copyright Karen S. Law, 2016