Overview
Ethiopia is not a party to the Hague Convention, but does participate in a Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) program, requiring adoptive parents to obtain a preliminary determination on the child’s likely immigration eligibility prior to filing an adoption case with a court. The Ministry of Women Children and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA) will not issue an adoption approval letter to the Federal First Instance Court for entry of a final adoption decree until MOWCYA has received a letter indicating that USCIS has completed a PAIR review.
Who Can Adopt
You must meet eligibility requirements in the United States as set by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), as well as those of Ethiopia.
Ethiopia country requirements include:
  • Heterosexual married couples may adopt. Married couples must apply jointly for the adoption of a child. Adoption by singles is restrictive. It is best to check with an adoption agency approved to facilitate adoptions from Ethiopia, as to current policies.
  • Couples must be married for at least 1 year. Some orphanage directors also apply a no divorce policy.
  • Adoptive parents must be between the ages of 25 and 65 years of age. Older parents will be asked to adopt older children.
  • Adoptive parents must be in good physical, medical and mental health. They must be of good moral character.
  • Adoptive parents must be free of criminal conviction, including that relating to moral character.
  • Must meet US Poverty Guidelines.
  • Demonstrated ability to provide a safe family environment and meet the needs of a child, including an understanding of risks, developmental delays, identified and potential medical needs, and the adjustment course for an internationally adopted child.
  • Applicants must complete Adoptive Parent Training and Education, including awareness of how to maintain the child’s connection to culture and heritage.
  • Agreement to complete all Country and US requirements, including a period of post-adoption reports required.
Children Awaiting Adoption
Every attempt is made to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition, the child must meet the US definition of an orphan.
Children are between the age of 3 months to teens at time of referral, although age is difficult to determine, with some children believed to be older than on adoption records. Children are considered healthy or with minor, moderate and severe special needs. Some agencies allow the adoption of siblings or unrelated children at the same time.
They are abandonment or parental rights have been relinquished due to poverty, disease, death of a parent, or stigma and lack of social support for single mothers.
Children reside in orphanages, large foster home settings, or living with extended family while awaiting adoption.
How to Adopt
Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider.
Determine if additional US state requirement must be met, if adoption will take place in the US.
Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt – USCIS Form I-600A.
Submit adoption application to The Ministry of Women Children and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA).
Referral is made by the orphanage director or agency for non special needs children. Referrals of special needs or older children is often done off an agency waiting list. Adoptive parents can review waiting children and choose a child they would like to adopt.
The wait time for a young “healthy” child is longer than the wait for an older child or a child with special needs. Individual cases and circumstances affect the time frame and waiting period.
Most adoptive parents travel to Ethiopia to meet the child and review additional information. Ethiopia requires adoptive parents to return to Ethiopia prior to finalization of the adoption in Ethiopia.
Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) program, requiring adoptive parents to obtain a preliminary determination on the child’s likely immigration eligibility prior to filing an adoption case with a court. The Ministry of Women Children and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA) will not issue an adoption approval letter to the Federal First Instance Court for entry of a final adoption decree until MOWCYA has received a letter indicating that USCIS has completed a PAIR review.
Following the receipt of a PAIR letter from USCIS and subsequent issuance of a foreign adoption decree, prospective adoptive parents must submit the foreign adoption decree and the child’s travel and identity documents to the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa which will then complete the final review of their Form I-600 and visa processing. If the U.S. Embassy finds the case is not clearly approvable, it will return the case to USCIS for further action.
Step-by-step description of the adoption process can be found here.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows the child to acquire American citizenship when they enter the United States as lawful permanent resident.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when an adoption decree is issued by a US court. Failure to obtain citizenship, may put your child’s status in jeopardy.
After Adoption
Ethiopia requires the homestudy agency to prepare Post Adoption Reports at 3, 6, and 12 months post placement. Some agencies also require a 1 month report. In addition, the adoptive parents must submit an annual report until the child turns 18 years of age.
U.S. Embassy
Embassy of the United States of America – Addis Ababa
Embassy of the United States of America – Addis Ababa
Entoto Street
P.O. Box 1014
Addis Ababa
Tel: (251-11) 130-6000
Fax: (251-11) 124-24-35
American Citizens Services are available from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. M-F, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. M-Th. Please consult the U.S. Embassy’s website for specific times when certain services are available.
Ethiopian Adoption Authority
Ministry of Women’s, Children’s, and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA)
Children and Youth Affairs Office (CYAO)
P.O. Box 1293
Addis Ababa
Ethiopia
Tel: (251)-11416-6362
Fax: (251)-11-416-6362
Embassy of Ethiopia
3506 International Drive, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Phone: 202-364-1200
Fax: 202-587-0195
http://www.ethiopianembassy.org/contact.shtml
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
Internet: 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).