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  • 25 Factors To Consider When Adopting From Uganda

    ugandan adoptions

    Click on each factor to learn more. Current as of November, 2014. This information is subject to change; therefore, check with an agency that places from this country for the most current information.

    + Parental Age
    One parent must be at least 25 years old and at least 21 years older than the child.  

    + Length of Marriage
    No country requirement, although agencies may have a requirement.

    + Divorce
    1 divorce per couple

    + Children in Family
    No country restrictions, although large families might be required to document that they have the resources to care for another child.

    + Single Applicant
    Single women are allowed to adopt girls, although courts prefer to place children with couples.

    + Sexual Orientation
    Does not knowingly place with homosexuals

    + Children Available
    Healthy children 9 months to 15 years old, children with mild to severe special needs and sibling groups.

    + Gender
    Boys and girls; parents may request a gender.

    + Adopting More Than One Unrelated Child at the Same Time
    Allowed, but some agencies may have restrictions

    + Referral Method
    Once the dossier is approved, the adoption agency matches the parents with a child.  The referral typically includes pictures and medical information, as well as social history, if known.  Once the referral is accepted, the dossier is sent to an adoption attorney in Uganda who files for the parents’ court date.

    + Travel in Country
    1 long trip or 2 shorter trips; approximately 4 to 8+ weeks long or 4 to 5 days and 2 to 4 weeks long.  Both parents are required to travel on the first trip, but only one must make the second trip.  During the first trip, the parents meet their child and attend the court hearing.  Either one or both of the parents may return to the US while the court makes its ruling or remain in Uganda to continue bonding with their child.  Once the court hearing is complete, either one or both of the parents return to Uganda to apply for an immigration visa and escort their child home.

    + Wait After Referral
    6+ months.  The wait time depends heavily on the judge assigned to the case.

    + Approximate Cost
    $24,000 – $30,000 + travel

    + Youngest Age Upon Arrival Home
    9 months, although most will be 2 to 3 years old

    + Orphanage/Foster Care
    Private orphanages

    + How Children Enter Government Care
    Abandonment due to poverty or the death of a parent.  As many as a third of Ugandan orphans are AIDS orphans.

    + Prevalence of FASD
    Not enough placements to get a consensus from IA doctors interviewed.  Studies on FAS in Uganda are not known, and there is little access to testing in Uganda.  However, the World Health Organization has recently issued a report noting that Uganda has one of the highest rate of alcohol consumption, although another recent report disputes this.  Parents should consult an IA doctor once they receive a referral.

    + Adequacy of Medical Reports
    Limited; it varies based on the facilities at individual orphanages.  All children are tested for malaria, syphilis, and HIV. 

    + Program Stability
    Variable.  Under Ugandan law, adoptive parents must have lived in Uganda for 3 years and fostered the child for 36 months before adopting.  Many judges will waive the residency requirement and grant parents guardianship so that the adoption can be finalized in the US, but it is up to their discretion and there is a risk that legal guardianship for a particular child will not be granted.  Additionally, due to recent allegations of misconduct in Ugandan adoptions, the US requires an orphan investigation to verify the child’s orphan status before a visa is issues, which can cause substantial delays in the adoption process.  Because Uganda has no central adoption authority, adopting from this country is a difficult, unpredictable process.

    + Post Adoption Reports
    Required annually until the child is 18.

    + Additional Information

    • Families are given guardianship of their child by the court in Uganda, finalize the adoption in their state of residency within a year of returning to the US and then apply for their child’s citizenship.
    • The child’s adoption must be registered at the Ugandan Embassy in the US once it is finalized.
    • There are particular judges in Uganda who prefer not to grant legal guardianships to families that do not meet the residency requirement. Therefore, there is a risk that legal guardianship for a particular child would not be granted.
    • Because children enter the US on an IR-4 visa (Legal Guardianship Process), they do not qualify for automatic citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act (CCA). Once the adoption is finalized in the US, the child becomes and automatic citizen, but families still have to apply for citizenship through the US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS).
    • Due to allegations of misconduct in Ugandan adoptions, the Department of State requires that a consular officer conduct an orphan investigation (I-604) to verify the child’s orphan status before issuing a visa. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this investigation may take up to one month. If there are any unresolved questions during the investigation, the case if forwarded to USCIS Nairobi for final adjudication, which can take up to an additional 30 days. To avoid these problems, make sure to discus with the adoption agency how they qualify orphan.
    • Many orphanages prefer families who are Christian and require a reference from a family’s church or pastor.
    • Children 14 years old and up must consent to their own adoptions.
    • Uganda prefers families who are currently not taking any psychotropic medications. Families with a history of substance abuse are not accepted.
    • The child will retain their Ugandan citizenship until they are 18. Some judges might require that the family bring the child back to Uganda for a visit every five years or that the child retain their Ugandan name until they are 18.
    • As of July 2014, the Universal Accreditation Act requires all American adoption agencies, whether they work with Hague countries or not, need to be accredited under the same standards that apply to Hague Convention adoption cases.  This has the potential to effect adoptions from Uganda, including kinship and independent adoptions.  Listen to this Creating a Family show for more information on how the Universal Accreditation Act will effect international adoptions.

    © Creating a Family

    Available from www.CreatingaFamily.org, the national adoption and infertility education and support organization. Please do not reprint without giving credit to Creating a Family and a link to the website.

    Image credit: jnissa

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