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LebanonOfficial Name: Lebanon Last Updated: November 1, 2011
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Hague Adoption Convention Country? No
Hague Convention Information
Lebanon is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption ( Hague Adoption Convention ). Therefore, when the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008, intercountry adoption processing for Lebanon did not change.
There is no civil procedure for adoption. The Government of Lebanon recognizes 19 religious confessions, each with its own court structure and laws. Because adoption is a religious procedure in Lebanon, it is supervised by authorized religious authorities and must be approved by the relevant religious court.
Islamic Shari'a law does not allow for full adoptions as generally understood in the United States. However, immigrant visas can be issued in cases where the Islamic court that grants the guardianship of an orphan and where that court understands that the parents intend to obtain a full and final adoption of the child once that child is in the United States and expressly signals that agreement. For more information on this issue Please refer to the Department of State's FAQ on "Adoption of Children from Countries in which Islamic Shari'a law is observed."
In Lebanon, only Christian institutions recognize adoptions as a legal convention and define the conditions, rights, and duties thereof. For the Catholic religious community, the relevant authorities are those of the rite of the minor child; while for the Orthodox religious communities, the forum is the court of the church of the prospective adoptive parent(s). If a child is a foundling, the child assumes the religious affiliation of the orphanage that takes accepts him/her.
Christian orphanages in Lebanon may have children available for adoption.
Note: The Lebanese Sûreté Général requires that both U.S. adoptive parents travel to Lebanon to complete the adoption procedures and accompany the child out of Lebanon. The U.S. Embassy in Beirut will be unable to obtain exceptions to this legal requirement. Parents adopting a child from Lebanon must apply for the child's U.S. immigrant visa from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
Who Can Adopt
To bring an adopted child to United States from Lebanon, you must be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read more on Who can Adopt.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Lebanon also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
- RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: There are no residency requirements for prospective adoptive parents in Lebanon.
- AGE REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 40 years of age. In addition, the age difference between the prospective adoptive parents and the child must be at least 18 years. In Armenian Orthodox adoptions, the minimum age difference is 15 years.
- MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: Both married and single individuals may adopt from Lebanon. If married, the consent of both prospective adoptive parents is needed.
- INCOME REQUIREMENTS: While there are no specific income requirements, prospective adoptive parents must provide their financial status as part of the home study.
- OTHER REQUIREMENTS: Other requirements for adoption include:
- In the case of a Catholic child, at least one of the prospective adoptive parents must be Catholic.
- The adoptive parent(s) must not have any legal child and could not hope to have children of their own based on medical reports issued by specialists.
- The adoptive parents and the child must belong to the same religious community, but not necessarily the same rite for the Catholic Church in general.
- Prospective adoptive parents must have a clean criminal record and general good behavior.
Who Can Be Adopted
Lebanon has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption. You cannot adopt a child in Lebanon unless he or she meets the requirements outlined below.
In addition to these requirements, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law for you to bring him or her back to the United States. Find out more about Who can be adopted and these U.S. requirements.
Relinquishment Requirements: If the child is old enough to consent, his/her consent is required. There is no specific age of consent but practice indicates that age 10 - 12 or older is customary. If the child is too young to give consent, then the minor's guardian, also known as the walee, must consent. Moreover, the religious authority must consent to the adoption. Consent cannot be obtained by coercion or fraud.
How To Adopt
Lebanon's Adoption Authority
There is no general civil adoption authority. Since adoption is overseen by religious institutions in Lebanon, they must be supervised by religious authorities and must be approved by these authorities and relevant religious courts. As a result, Lebanese governmental agencies do not get involved in registering the adoption, changing the child’s name, and issuing a Lebanese passport until after the religious body has approved the adoption.
The process for adopting a child from Lebanon generally includes the following steps:
- Choose an Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be Matched with a Child
- Adopt the Child in Lebanon
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
- Bring Your Child Home
- Choose an Adoption Service Provider
The first step in adopting a child from Lebanon is usually to select a licensed agency in the United States that can help with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. Learn more about choosing the right adoption service provider in the Working with an Adoption Service section of our website.
There are no adoption agencies in Lebanon. The U.S. Embassy in Beirut maintains a list of lawyers here. Churches and church officials care for abandoned children but may not always have the legal expertise to process an adoption. Attorneys who specialize in family law usually handle adoption cases.
Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
To bring an adopted child from Lebanon to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-600A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
In addition to meeting the U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, you need to meet the requirements of Lebanon as described in the Who Can Adopt section. The adoption shall be for valid reasons and in the interest of the child.
Be Matched with a Child
If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Lebanon will provide you with a referral to a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of a particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Lebanon's requirements, as described in the Who Can be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law. Learn more.
Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Lebanon
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Lebanon generally includes the following:
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The religious court will investigate the case, which entails proof of the good moral reputation of the prospective adoptive parent(s) and financial support for the child. If the court does not find any grounds for objection to adoption, the court will issue a decree confirming the adoption. The court's final decision on the adoption must be affirmed by the bishop of the same relevant jurisdiction.
- ROLE OF THE COURT: To be valid, the adoption decree must be granted exequatur, or endorsed, by the Civil Courts Enforcement Bureau. The adoption decree must then be submitted to the Lebanese Bureau of Vital Statistics so that the civil status of the adopted child can be amended in the registry book.
- ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: There are no adoption agencies in Lebanon. Attorneys who specialize in family law usually handle adoption cases.
- ADOPTION APPLICATION: The adoption request must be submitted to the presiding judge of the religious court of the community to which the child belongs.
- TIME FRAME: Intercountry adoption process in Lebanon ranges from four months to one year to complete.
- ADOPTION FEES: The following is a list of adoption fees in Lebanon:
Fees vary among confessions, and sometimes among sects within a particular confession, and are subject to change.
- DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: The following documents must be attached to the request for adoption filed before the religious court:
- Photocopy of the ID of the prospective parents(s) and the adopted child.
- Certificate of good behavior. This certificate must be issued by the priest (or bishop) of the church where prospective adoptive parents belong.
- A medical report stating the reasons of not having children. This is mandatory for the Orthodox Church and is based on the idea that the prospective adoptive parents are not be able to have their own biological children.
- A home study report done by the reliable authority or agency (depending on the nationality of the parents) about the prospective parent(s)' social situation and financial status. The same study submitted with the I-600A may be used.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help.
Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Lebanon, the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) MUST determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted (Form I-600). Learn how.
- Bring Your Child Home Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. The adoption decree must accompany the application for a Lebanese identity card and the birth certificate. The child will take the family name of the adoptive parents and your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
The adoption decree must accompany the application for a Lebanese identity card and the birth certificate.
Note: The modification of the surname is subject to the civil court's jurisdiction. If the child is less than five years old, the change of the surname is easily awarded. Approval of the institution or organization where the child was found may be sometimes required. If the child is more than six years old, reference to the former surname will always appear on official documents along with the new surname of the child.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Lebanon. After the identity card is issued, an application for a Lebanese passport must be submitted at the Lebanese Passport Office in Beirut.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted and a travel document has been obtained from the Lebanese government, visit the U.S. Embassy for final review and approval of the child’s I-600 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. 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 if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. The adoptive parents and the child must be present at the interview. If everything is in order, the visa will be issued within the next two working days Lean about the Medical Examination.
The adoptive parents must present the following documents:
- Proof of U.S. citizenship (passport valid for at least five years at the time of issuance or naturalization certificate, or birth certificate, if born in the U.S.),
- Petitioner's and the child's passports, and
- $404.00 USD (cash) or the equivalent in Lebanese pounds (cash).
For further information, adoptive parents may send a fax to 04-543498 or send an email to BeirutIV@state.gov. Replies will be sent within three working days.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when the court in the United States issues the final adoption decree.
* 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.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Lebanon. 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 Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you 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 attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for Lebanon, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
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's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Lebanon, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
What does Lebanon require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
There are no post-adoption requirements for Lebanese adoptions.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some good places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
Embassy of the United States, Beirut
Antelias, P.O. Box 70-840
Tel: (4) 542600, 543600, 544310, 544130, and 544140
Fax:  (4) 543498
*Lebanon also has consulates in Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York City.
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).