Are you considering international or foreign adoption? If so, you probably thought of adopting from China or Russia, but have you ever considered adoption from Africa? Maybe you have already considered adopting from Africa, but you are not sure where to begin. Let me help you. I will share some facts about Africa, information about adopting from Africa, and a story of an African adoption.
Africa: What You Need to Know
Africa is the second-largest continent, and it is home to 16% of the world’s population. Around 1.1 billion people live on the continent of Africa. As the world’s second-largest continent, it is made up of 54 countries. The largest country of Africa in size is Algeria, with Nigeria being the most populated country.
When you visit an African country, you will find cities and villages. As of 2015, only 50 percent of Africa’s population was urbanized. This percentage continues to grow. More than 3,000 indigenous people groups live in Africa, each with its own language and culture.
You will find that as you travel through a city or village, many different languages are spoken. Many Africans are considered to be fluent in five or more languages, including French. The top languages spoken in Africa include Arabic, English, Swahili, French, Berber, Hausa, Portuguese, and Spanish. During the adoption process, you are very likely to encounter someone who speaks English because it is widely used for official communication. This can make the process much easier for everyone involved.
Africa has a very hot and dry climate. It is known as the world’s hottest continent and second-driest continent. Sixty percent of Africa is covered by grassland or savannah. In Northern Africa, you can visit the Sahara Desert. This desert is known as the world’s hottest desert.
You might be interested to know that Africa is home to the world’s largest land mammal, the African elephant. The African elephant can weigh up to seven tons.
Why Should I Adopt from Africa?
So why should you consider adoption from Africa? One of the top reasons people choose adoption from Africa is because they feel called to international adoption and want to provide an orphaned child a forever family.
In Africa, there are 52 million orphans. This 52 million makes up more than 30% of the orphan population in the world. But why are there so many orphans? Africa is home to the world’s largest epidemic of AIDS. It is estimated that 32 percent of orphans became orphans due to their parents dying from AIDS. Close to 4,000 children have also become orphans due to the Ebola epidemic that swept through West Africa, which includes the countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
By choosing to adopt a child from Africa, you can help a child trying to fend for himself or herself. Orphans lead a tough life. Because of the fear of AIDS and their young age, orphans in Africa cannot find employment to help support their families. Often, they are also supporting siblings. They turn to extended family for support without success. Unable to support themselves, orphans cannot provide food, get an education, or seek medical attention. The inability to get food and seek medical attention leads to starvation and even death. Orphans are at risk for chronic undernourishment as a result of unclean water and limited resources.
Which Country Can I Adopt From?
If you are considering adoption from Africa, you are probably wondering from which country you should adopt. Technically, you can adopt from all 54 countries, but it is not recommended. Why? Not all of the countries are considered safe to adopt from.
It is recommended that you adopt from one of the Hague Convention countries. The Hague Convention was established in 1993 in order to establish international standards of practices for intercountry adoptions. By adopting from a Hague Convention country, you are ensuring that intercountry adoption is in the best interest of the child, and you are preventing children from being sold illegally, abducted, and trafficked.
Out of the 54 countries in Africa, only 20 are members of the Hague Convention. These countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, the Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Togo, and Zambia.
What is the Hague Adoption Process?
When adopting through the Hague Convention, there are six general steps that you must complete in order to meet the United States legal requirements. The steps are as follows:
- Choose an adoption service provider that is accredited by the United States.
- Submit an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to obtain eligibility.
- Be referred to a child.
- Submit the child’s application to the USCIS for approval to proceed with the adoption.
- Gain legal custody of the child in the country of origin.
- Obtain an immigrant visa for the child and bring the child home.
The first step in adopting from a Hague Convention country is to find an adoption service provider to help you complete the process. The adoption service provider must be an accredited agency or approved individual to provide adoption services both in the United States and the country from which you would like to adopt. The Gladney Center for Adoption is an accredited agency that provides home study and post-placement services for couples wanting to adopt through a Hague Convention country.
Your adoption service provider will help you complete the application process to become eligible to adopt. In the United States, to be eligible to adopt, you must file Form I-800A and submit a home study. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will review your application and home study to find you suitable and eligible to bring a child into your home. Once you have been found eligible and suitable for adoption, your adoption service provider will send that approval notice to the country from which you would like to adopt. The child’s country of origin will then determine your eligibility under their laws.
Once they have approved you to adopt a child from their country, they will match you with a child and send you the information about the child. You will have two weeks to either accept or deny the referral.
If you choose to accept it, you will apply for the child to immigrate to the United States and obtain approval from the United States to proceed with the adoption.
After the child has been approved to immigrate to the United States, you will adopt or gain legal custody of the child in the country of origin. The process varies from country to country.
Once you have obtained legal custody of the child, you must obtain an immigrant visa for the child. You will also need to apply for a new birth certificate and obtain a passport for the child. When this is all completed, you may bring your child home!
What Should I Know About The Post-Adoption Requirements?
After completing the adoption, the child is legally yours and is now a part of your family. For some international adoptions, you may be required to have post-placement supervision. This means that for six months to two years, you will have to submit photographs of the child, written reports from the child’s doctor, and written reports from a social worker to show the government and others how your child is doing in their new home. These post-placement reports are crucial for foreign governments to determine if intercountry adoption was in the best interest of the child. The reports can help other couples wanting to adopt from that same country.
If you are adopting from Africa, it is likely that you are adopting a child from a different race. That is completely okay! You do want to keep in mind that you are pulling that child away from their culture and heritage. The best thing you can do for that child is to embrace your child’s culture. Maybe that is celebrating holidays from their country or eating traditional food once a week. Whatever it is, you want to make sure you are celebrating their culture so that they don’t lose that heritage. You want your child to be proud of where he or she came from.
Some other things you can do to help your child are finding someone in your community like them that they can talk to, participating in community events related to your child’s cultural heritage, and enrolling them in a diverse school. If the child comes to you with questions about their cultural heritage, listen to their questions, and if you cannot answer them, find someone who can.
Before adopting a child from another country, do your research. Research the country’s customs, traditions, and celebrations. You want to be knowledgeable about where your child comes from.
About African Culture
So you are considering adoption from Africa and now you are curious about the culture, right? In Africa, you will find expressions of their culture everywhere. The culture is very diverse, but they share some similarities when examined closely.
Africans express their culture in a variety of ways. The most common ways that you will see African culture expressed are through music, religion, clothing, and cuisine. Like most cultures, Africa has cultural values that you need to be aware of in order to be mindful of their worldview.
One of the biggest mistakes you could make is not greeting someone. Africans value a simple hello and a handshake. Doing this can make a positive first impression on anyone. Other things you need to be aware of are showing respect to your elders, not pointing, being flexible, focusing on the current time, eating with your right hand, receiving gifts with both hands, and not worrying about personal space. These are just a few main things that you might possibly encounter. If you want to learn more, visit Migrationology.
Story of an African Adoption
I know many families that have chosen to adopt. The Ogden family chose adoption from Africa, so I contacted Kristy to see if she would share her story. Kristy Ogden had felt a desire in her heart for the people of Africa. Having this desire, she had always wished to visit Africa, but for various reasons, she was unable to. Despite being unable to travel, Kristy’s warmth toward Africa’s people remained, but as time went on, that passion went dormant.
Kristy got married, and she and her husband had their son. By the time that their oldest was born, the Lord stirred her heart again. The Lord was doing something, and Kristy had no idea, but she and her husband began to discuss adoption. The concept of adoption was enormous and overwhelming, so it just remained an idea for the couple. She knew her husband was not entirely on board yet with the idea, even though he loved people from other countries.
Months later, Kristy’s husband came to her wanting to pursue adoption. However, fear struck her, and she became reluctant. She was overwhelmed by the unknown. But, with friends and an agency’s guidance, the couple decided it was time, and they began the process.
They started by filling out the paperwork and finished it in May of 2013. By September, they had an email with the picture and short description of a nine-month-old waiting for a family. With only a few hours to decide, they ultimately said YES to moving forward.
Their son was in Ethiopia, so in December, they made their first journey to Ethiopia to visit their son and complete Africa’s adoption process. He legally became their son in December of 2013, but because they had to wait on the US embassy’s approval and Africa’s adoption process, they could not yet bring him home. Eventually, they did bring Titus home to the United States, where he now resides.
Titus is now eight years old and is a fantastic kid. Kristy says he has been a blessing to their lives. He is strong, confident, and full of love. He knows where he is from, and he brings the culture of Africa to their daily lives. The Ogdens plan to take him to Ethiopia in the future.Considering adoption? Let us help you on your journey to creating your forever family. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.