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Notice: Update on Intercountry Adoptions from Ghana and Important Cautionary Notes
The Department of State (Department) and the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) wish to advise U.S. prospective adoptive parents (PAPs), adoptive parents, and adoption service providers (ASPs) of information recently provided by the Ghanaian Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (Ministry). The Ministry confirmed that its moratorium on intercountry adoption processing continues to be in effect in Ghana. However, the Ministry strives to ensure vulnerable children in need are placed in permanent homes and has established four categories of exceptions to the moratorium.
According to the Ministry, Ghanaian children in need of permanent homes who meet the following criteria may be considered by the Ministry for possible adoption by a foreign family:
- Children with significant medical needs
- Children on the verge of aging out of the opportunity to be adopted
- Children who are to be adopted by blood relatives
- Children with special circumstances approved by the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection
The Ministry has requested that families seeking to begin an adoption in Ghana contact the Ministry first in order to be matched with an eligible child. The Ministry further requests that if a family has identified a child, such as a relative, that they consult with the Ministry to ensure the child meets the criteria for the exceptions prior to completing an adoption in the courts. All questions regarding the exceptions should be forwarded to the Ministry. Neither the U.S. Embassy nor USCIS will be able to answer questions regarding which cases meet the criteria set by the Ministry.
The Government of Ghana is working on a new draft adoption law that would, if passed and enacted, make changes to the way adoptions are processed in Ghana. We do not have any specific information about the provisions of this draft law at this time, but we will provide further updates as they become available.
With regard to a “clearance” letter, a letter from the Ministry indicating the Ministry’s assent to this particular adoption, this is currently not a requirement under U.S. adoption processing procedures for Form I-600 approval or issuance of an immigrant visa. However, there are confirmed reports that the Births and Deaths Registry in Accra may not provide a new birth certificate that corresponds with a child’s adopted name unless the case has such a letter from the Ministry.
For these reasons, adoptive families and ASPs should proceed with caution in Ghana, and may wish to consider contacting the Ministry prior to beginning the process to obtain the most updated information about the specific steps in the intercountry adoption process in Ghana.
Families who have already secured a court ordered adoption decree and wish to travel with their adopted child to the U.S. should contact USCIS to file their Form I-600 petition. Once the Form I-600 petition is approved, the adoptive parents may apply for an immigrant visa for their child at the U.S. Embassy Consular Section.
As a reminder for all accredited adoption service providers acting as primary providers for adoption cases in Ghana, under the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 (UAA), adoption service providers working with prospective adoptive parents in non-Convention adoption cases must comply with the same accreditation requirements and standards that apply in Convention adoption cases. Under the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA), providing an adoption service is defined as including facilitating the provision of the service. Therefore, anyone facilitating the provision of an adoption service is considered to be providing that adoption service.
Agencies working in Ghana should review the Guidance on Supervising Foreign Providers.
For further information regarding this notice, please contact the Department’s Office of Children’s Issues via email at Adoption@state.gov. For case specific inquiries, please contact the U.S. Embassy Accra Adoption Unit at email@example.com or the USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC) at NBC.firstname.lastname@example.org. For case specific inquiries for cases filed at the USCIS Field Office in Accra please email USCIS.email@example.com. Please continue to monitor our website for updates on adoptions in Ghana.