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Djibouti

Official Name: Djibouti Last Updated: June 1, 2013

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Hague Adoption Convention Country? No

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  • Hague Convention Information

    Djibouti is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention).  Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section  204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F).

    Adoption in Djibouti is a complicated, time consuming process with many legal hurdles.  There are no adoption agencies to facilitate the process.  Many legal procedures must be completed in-person, and in French or Somali.  There is no clear, uniform adoption procedure.  Generally, only non-Djiboutian children considered to be abandoned in Djibouti are available for adoption; and even in these cases, restrictions abound.  Djiboutian children can be adopted only in very exceptional cases (mostly by family members), and at the discretion of the Djiboutian government.  Adoption in Djibouti is divided into two types: simple and plénier.  Simple adoption is when someone cares for the child as his/her own, but the child’s name is not changed and the biological parents retain parental rights.  A plénier adoption is when the biological parents irrevocably relinquish parental rights and the child’s last name is changed to match the adoptive parents.  For the purposes of U.S. immigration law, a plénier adoption is required.

    U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

    To bring an adopted child to the United States from Djibouti, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements.  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.

    Additionally, a child must meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States on an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.

  • Who Can Adopt

    In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, you must also meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Djibouti:

    • RESIDENCY :Prospective adoptive parents must be physically present in Djibouti at the time of the proposed adoption, but need not be residents.  The child must be both physically present and a resident of Djibouti.
    • AGE OF ADOPTING PARENTS:Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years of age and must be at least 15 years older than the child.  If the prospective adoptive parent is a relative, he/she need only be 21 years old.  The prospective adoptive parent(s) must also be morally and physically sound, as determined by the Government of Djibouti.
    • MARRIAGE: Prospective adoptive parents do not need to be married in order to complete the adoption process.  Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, or intersex (LGBTI) individuals adopting as individuals or couples are not eligible to adopt in Djibouti.
    • INCOME: Djiboutian law does not stipulate any specific income requirements; only that prospective adoptive parents should demonstrate that they have a steady, monthly income.
    • OTHER: Djiboutian Sharia law only allows for adoption of Djiboutian national children within a family or clan. Adoption of Djiboutian children by non-family members is not permitted. It is unclear whether the Government of Djibouti would allow non-Muslim prospective parents to adopt a child that was born to Muslim biological parents - this has been historically prohibited.
  • Who Can Be Adopted

    In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, Djibouti has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption:

    • RELINGQUISHMENT:Only children whose parents are willing to irrevocably relinquish their parental rights are eligible for adoption – the adoption must be a “plenary adoption”.
    • ABANDONMENT: Only non-Djiboutian children are considered to be abandoned. Djiboutian children are automatically assigned a Djiboutian guardian within their family or clan if their parent or guardian is unable to care for them.  In the case of non-Djiboutian children, they must be declared abandoned by a court – standard criteria do not exist.
    • AGE OF ADOPTIVE CHILD: Children must be 17 years of age or younger.  Please note, however, that in order for a child to meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-600 petition must be filed while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if adopted, or to be adopted, together with a sibling under the age of 16). 
    • SIBLING ADOPTIONS: There are no known sibling requirements; however this may vary on a case by case basis.
    • SPECIAL NEEDS OR MEDICAL CONDITIONS: There are no known requirements.
    • WAITING PERIOD OR FOSTER CARE: There is no defined waiting period; however, the process may take a year or more.

    Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are adoptable.  In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible.  In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption.

  • How To Adopt

    DJIBOUTI'S ADOPTION AUTHORITY

    Tribunal de Première Instance de Djibouti

    THE PROCESS

    The process for adopting a child from Djibouti generally includes the following steps:

    1. Choose an adoption service provider
    2. Apply to be found eligible to adopt
    3. Be matched with a child
    4. Adopt the child in Djibouti
    5. Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
    6. Bring your child home
    1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
      The recommended first step in adopting a child from Djibouti is to decide whether or not to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States that can help you with your adoption.  Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate.  The Department of State provides information on selecting an adoption service provider on its website.

      There are no adoption service providers in Djibouti to assist with the Djiboutian portion of the adoption process. A U.S. adoption service provider can assist in the U.S. immigration portion of an adoption from Djibouti. According to court officials, adoptions do not require the participation of a lawyer, but may be beneficial to engage someone familiar with Djiboutian family law.

    2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
      In order to adopt a child from Djibouti; you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Djibouti and U.S. immigration law.  You must submit an application to be found eligible to adopt with the Tribunal de Première Instance de Djibouti. 

      Please see instructions below under Adoption Application.

      To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also file an I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be found eligible and suitable to adopt.

    3. Be Matched with a Child
      There is no official process for matching you with a Djiboutian child, and there are no agencies available to assist you in Djibouti.  Most matches are done through family connections.  Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of and provide a permanent home for a particular child.

      The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Djibouti’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section.  The child must also meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law. 

    4. Adopt or Gain Legal Custody of Child in Djibouti
      The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Djibouti generally includes the following:
      • Role of Adoption Authority: All adoptions are facilitated through the Tribunal de Première Instance de Djibouti, which serves as Djibouti's adoption authority.
      • Role of the Court: The court will issue final paperwork stating that the child has been adopted and that legal custody has been transferred to the prospective adoptive parents.
      • Role of Adoption Agencies: There are no adoption service providers in Djibouti to assist with an adoption.
      • Adoption Application: Once a child has been identified, adoption procedures must be initiated with a written request from the prospective adoptive parent(s) to the President of Tribunal de Première Instance to open an adoption case on their behalf.  The court has two responsibilities:  it must verify whether the necessary legal conditions have been met, and that the adoption is in the best interest of the child.  To that effect, it is mandatory that adoptive parent(s) attach the U.S. documents listed in the section below to their application.  The court can order an additional social investigation report to complement the one already attached to the initial request (see below), and one or more types of specific medical examinations.  The clerk of the District Court will then forward the request to the police for a background check to be performed (if the prospective adoptive parents are resident in Djibouti).
      • Procedures for a child with identified biological parent(s): The biological parents must agree to irrevocably relinquish their parental rights (i.e. a plénier adoption).
        • The biological parents must appear before the court with their identification and the child's birth certificate and sign a consent document.  A three-month appeal period follows, during which time the biological parents may reclaim their parental rights or the prospective adoptive parents may decide to cancel the adoption.
        • At the end of that period, if no appeal is made, the prospective adoptive parents must submit a request to the court to continue the process, at which time the court will fix a hearing date.  At the hearing, the judge will rule whether to grant a delegation of parental authority, which technically shifts parental authority from the biological to the adoptive parents.  If the adoptive parents are residents of Djibouti, or if they plan to stay for some time, they may be granted temporary custody of the child, to allow the child to physically live with them.
        • The biological parents then have an additional two-month window within which they may reclaim the child.  If they do not, the adoptive parents have to submit to the court a request for finalizing the adoption.  At the hearing, the court will make a final ruling to grant the adoption.  However, for an additional two months the Public Ministry (Office of the District Attorney) or any other concerned individual (family member), excluding the natural parents, may appeal for reversal if they can provide “serious evidence” that the adoption will adversely affect the child.
        • Note: The court can refuse to grant an adoption and may order the adoptive parents not to break the child's bonds with its biological family. The judgment is always given in a public hearing. Whether the adoption is approved or rejected, the decision can be appealed, and the ensuing appeal may also be subject to a final appeal at the Supreme Court.

        Procedure for an abandoned child with unknown parents: The process is similar to that of a child with identified biological parents, excluding steps pertaining to the biological parents. Instead, after the prospective adoptive parents have submitted a written request to the court, the court will order a police investigation to try and find the biological parents and establish their identity (this may take up to a month). If biological parents cannot be found and no one claims the child, the police will deliver a certificate of abandonment to the court, after which the court will proceed with the case.

      • Time Frame: It may take a year or more from the time the adoption application is submitted to the Tribunal de Première Instance until the prospective adoptive parents receive the final documents. Factors bearing on the length of time may include court-ordered investigations, parents' citizenship, court calendar, appeals, and individual case anomalies.
      • Adoption Fees: The Government of Djibouti processes all adoptions. All procedures undertaken by the court (Adoption Authority) are free of charge. Prospective adoptive parents should expect to pay for any/all required medical examinations for the child, as well as for their own travel expenses.
      • Adoption Fees: The Government of Djibouti processes all adoptions. All procedures undertaken by the court (Adoption Authority) are free of charge. Prospective adoptive parents should expect to pay for any/all required medical examinations for the child, as well as for their own travel expenses.
      • Documents Required:
        • Police clearance (indicating no arrest record);
        • Home study report;
        • Proof of adequate financial means and stability (last three pay slips, tax return, etc.)

        Note: Additional documents may be requested.

      • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications Office may be able to assist.
    5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status
      After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Djibouti, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law.  You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative
    6. Bring Your Child Home
      Once your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), you need to apply for several documents for your child before you can apply for a U.S. immigrant visa to bring your child home to the United States:
      • Birth Certificate
        If you have finalized the adoption in Djibouti you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate. If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name. Adoptive parents must go to the Djiboutian Office of Vital Records (Bureau d'Etat Civile) to apply for a new birth certificate.
      • Djibouti Passport
        Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Djibouti.

        Adoptive parents who are not also Djiboutian citizens cannot apply for Djiboutian passports for their adoptive children. The biological parents will need to apply for the passport, or in the cases of abandoned and orphaned children, the U.S. Consular Officer processing the Immigrant Visa must request authorization for a passport waiver or travel letter from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

      • U.S. Immigrant Visa
        After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti City.  This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you.  As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.

        Note: Because a passport waiver must be obtained from DHS, immigrant visas for children without Djiboutian passports may take up to six weeks to issue.

        To schedule an immigrant visa appointment with the Embassy, please call +(253) 35-39-95.

        You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti City’s website.

    Child Citizenship Act

    For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States:  A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

    For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States:  An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship. 

    *Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible.  Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting. 

    Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

  • Traveling Abroad

    Applying for Your U.S. Passport

    U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

    Getting or renewing a passport is easy.  The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

    Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Djibouti

    In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa.  A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit.  Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.  To find information about obtaining a visa for Djibouti, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

    Staying Safe on Your Trip

    Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country.  The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability. 

    Staying in Touch on Your Trip

    When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State.  Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary.  Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Djibouti, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

    Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

  • After Adoption

    The government of Djibouti does not have any post-adoption requirements.

    Post-Adoption Resources

    Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption.  There are many public and private nonprofit post adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin.  Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. 

    Here are some places to start your support group search:

    Note:  Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents. 

  • Contact Information

    U.S. Embassy in Djibouti
    Lot Number 350-B
    Lotissement Haramous
    Djibouti City
    Tel: (253) 21-453-000
    Fax: (253) 21-453-340
    E-mail: ConsularDjibouti@state.gov
    djibouti.usembassy.gov/

    Djibouti’s Adoption Authority
    Office of the Secretary
    Tribunal de Première Instance
    Ministère de la Justice
    B.P. 12
    Djibouti
    République de Djibouti
    Tel: (253) 21-353-389

    Embassy of Djibouti
    Embassy of the Republic of Djibouti
    1156 15th St., NW, Suite 515
    Washington, DC 20005
    Tel: 202-331-0270

    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
    Email:  AskCI@state.gov
    Internet:  adoption.state.gov

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
    For questions about immigration procedures:
    National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
    Tel:  1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
    Internet:  uscis.gov

    For questions about filing a Form I-600A or I-600 petition:
    National Benefits Center
    Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
    Email:  NBC.Adoptions@DHS.gov