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Zimbabwe

Official Name: Zimbabwe Last Updated: October 2, 2015

Alerts & Notices

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Hague Adoption Convention Country? No

Are Intercountry Adoptions between Zimbabwe and the United States possible? Both adoptions to the United States from Zimbabwe and from the United States to Zimbabwe are possible.

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  • Hague Convention Information

    Zimbabwe is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the 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).

    Intercountry adoption in Zimbabwe is rare.  Prospective adoptive parents should be prepared to face significant bureaucratic hurdles and delays when attempting to adopt in Zimbabwe.

    Zimbabwe’s adoption authority, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, prefers to place Zimbabwean children with parents of the same race.  The Minister of Labour and Social Services must approve all interracial adoptions.  In addition, the Zimbabwean government discourages intercountry adoptions and may make additional demands before finalizing an adoption for parents who are not citizens of Zimbabwe.  Some of these additional demands include counseling for the prospective adoptive child and prospective adoptive parents, and requiring prospective adoptive parents to submit a completed home study report which includes visits by a Zimbabwean social worker to their place of residence.  The home study that prospective adoptive parents submit to USCIS with their Form I-600A or I-600 normally suffices.

    Note:  Prospective adoptive parents not living in Zimbabwe must obtain a residency waiver from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare before their adoption application is approved.

    Adoptions where the birth parent(s) relinquish a child directly to the prospective adoptive parents are referred to as “nominated” or “directed” adoptions.  Nominated or directed adoption is legal in Zimbabwe.  However, this type of adoption may not meet the guidelines for immigration to the United States.  Prospective adoptive parents involved in nominated or directed adoption should contact the U.S. Embassy in Harare before formalizing an adoption agreement to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed that will make it possible for the Embassy to issue a U.S. immigrant visa to the adopted child.

    U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

    To bring an adopted child to the United States from Zimbabwe, 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. 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 Zimbabwe:

    • Residency:  Prospective adoptive parents must be either citizens or legal residents of Zimbabwe.  If the prospective adoptive parents do not live in Zimbabwe, they must request a waiver of the residency requirement from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
    • Age of Adopting Parents:  Married prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years older than the prospective adoptive child.  Single women must be at least 21 years older.  There are no other age restrictions for prospective adoptive parents.  Please note, however, that an unmarried U.S. citizen must be at least 25 years of age when the Form I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative is filed.  If the unmarried U.S. citizen was not 25 years of age at the time of the actual adoption, the unmarried U.S. citizen must wait until his or her 25th birthday to file the petition.  Form I-600 filing instructions.
    • Marriage:  Prospective adoptive parents adopting as a couple must be married.  The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare must approve any exception to this requirement.  With approval, single women may adopt any child eligible for adoption, but single men may only adopt family members.
    • Income:  Prospective adoptive parents must prove financial stability.
    • Other:  Adoption by gay, lesbian, or same-sex couples is not permitted.  The approval of the Minister of Social Welfare is required for all interracial adoptions.  All prospective adoptive parents must have a clean criminal record.
  • Who Can Be Adopted

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

    Relinquishment:  Written consent to the adoption must be provided by each of the prospective adoptive child’s birth parents, who is living and can be located.  The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare determines whether a child is eligible for adoption.

    • Abandonment:  A child whose birth parents are deceased, or who was abandoned, is available for adoption at the determination of the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.  Death certificates are normally required in cases where the birth parents are deceased, to demonstrate the child’s orphan status.  If the child was abandoned, evidence of abandonment may be required.
    • Age of Adoptive Child:  The prospective child must be under 18 years of age.  A waiver from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare is required for children over the age of 18.  Please note 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 natural sibling under the age of 16).
    • Sibling Adoptions:  None.
    • Special Needs or Medical Conditions:  Zimbabwean law does not require disclosure of a child’s HIV status.
    • Waiting Period or Foster Care:  The waiting period is normally a minimum of six months.

    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

    Zimbabwe’s Adoption Authority
    Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare

    The Process

    The process for adopting a child from Zimbabwe 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 Zimbabwe
    5. Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
    6. Bring your child home

    There are two tracks to adoption in Zimbabwe:

    Track One – If the prospective adoptive parents have not yet identified a child, they may first file a general Application to Adopt at the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare headquarters in Zimbabwe.  Once the application is approved, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare will help to identify an appropriate child.  The Ministry may recommend a particular child for adoption.

    Track Two – If the prospective adoptive parents have identified the child they wish to adopt, they must visit the Social Services Office in their district to open a case file and file an application to adopt the child.

    Note:  Not every child in a Zimbabwean orphanage is eligible for adoption, and there is no central registry for identifying eligible children. Only by receiving authorization to adopt the child from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare can the prospective adoptive parents conclude that the child is eligible for adoption.

    1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider

      The recommended first step in adopting a child from Zimbabwe 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.

      Although anyone may submit documents on behalf of the prospective adoptive parent(s), they may not act on behalf of the prospective adoptive parent.  This means the prospective adoptive parents must be present in Zimbabwe during all of the key steps in the adoption process, including identification of the child, obtaining documentation, and all administrative and court proceedings.  Adoptions can only be facilitated through the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.  A Zimbabwean court order without the recommendation of the Ministry is not considered a legal adoption and will not be considered valid for U.S. immigration purposes.  All prospective adoptive parents should begin the adoption process with the Ministry or their district Social Welfare Officer.

    2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

      In order to adopt a child from Zimbabwe, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Zimbabwe and U.S. immigration law.  You must submit an application to be found eligible to adopt with the Ministry of Public Service Labor and Social Welfare of Zimbabwe.

      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

      If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority or other authorized entity in Zimbabwe will provide you with a referral.  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 Zimbabwe’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law.

      If the prospective adoptive parents have not already identified a child for adoption, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare will assist them in identifying an appropriate child.

      As mentioned above, adoptions involving birth parent(s) who relinquish a child directly to the prospective adoptive parents (referred to as “nominated” or “directed” adoptions) are legal in Zimbabwe, but such adoptions may not meet the guidelines for immigration to the United States.

    4. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Zimbabwe

      The process for finalizing the adoption in Zimbabwe generally includes the following:

      • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare approves the general application to adopt and refers the case to the Juvenile Court.
      • ROLE OF THE COURT: The Juvenile Court reviews the case. If approved, the court will issue an adoption order and release the child for immigration.
      • ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: Licensed attorneys, adoption service providers, or anyone else may submit documents on behalf of the prospective adoptive parent(s) but may not act on behalf of the prospective adoptive parent.
      • ADOPTION APPLICATION: Prospective adoptive parents who have not identified a child should submit the general application to adopt to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare' district office where they live. If the prospective adoptive parents have identified a child, they must visit the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Office in their district to open a case file and have an officer assigned to work on the prospective adoptive parents' case.

        NOTE: Prospective adoptive parents who do not live in Zimbabwe must obtain a residency waiver from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare before the adoption application can be approved.

      • TIME FRAME: Adoptions in Zimbabwe can take anywhere from three months to seven years once the Application to Adopt has been approved and a child has been identified. An increasing number of prospective adoptive parents abandon their plans to adopt a Zimbabwean child due to serious bureaucratic delays within the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and the Juvenile Courts. Wait times for Caucasian and mixed-race children can take considerably longer.
      • ADOPTION FEES: Neither the Government of Zimbabwe nor the courts charge adoption fees. Adoptive parents pay a fee of approximately U.S. $2 to the Registrar General's Office of Births and Deaths (located in Harare or Bulawayo) for the child's birth certificate.
      • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: The following documents are required to adopt a child from Zimbabwe:
        • Identity documents (passport, birth certificate, etc.)
        • Marriage certificate
        • Police clearances from both the United States and Zimbabwe
        • Supporting documents attesting to the prospective adoptive parent's eligibility and suitability to adopt, such as an approved U.S. home study report;
        • Three or four references from non-relatives of the prospective adoptive parents (required as part of the Application to Adopt).

        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 in Zimbabwe, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition of orphan under U.S. 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, 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 Zimbabwe, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child.  Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

      Zimbabwe Passport
      Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Zimbabwe.

      Applications for Zimbabwe passports are made through the Registrar General's district offices. The following fees apply:  U.S. $50 for routine processing, which takes more than a month to process; U.S. $318 for expedited processing, which takes one day to process; and U.S. $253 for a passport, which takes about three working days to process.  Below is a list of telephone numbers for Zimbabwe District Offices.  The U.S. Embassy in Harare notes that it may be more efficient for prospective adoptive parents to go in person to apply for a Zimbabwean passport because at times, these telephones are not answered:

      Harare: +263-4-702-295
      Bulawayo: +263-9-68-491
      Gweru: +263-54-223-155
      Masvingo: +263-39-263-876/263-705
      Mutare: +263-20-60-701/60-276
      Bindura: +263-71-6511/6119
      Chinhoyi: +263-67-23-013
      Gwanda: +263-84-22-587/22-618

      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 United States Embassy in Harare.  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.

      You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the Embassy Harare’s website.

      Note:  Prospective adoptive parents must have an approved Form I-600 petition before the U.S. Embassy in Harare can issue an immigrant visa.  A parent who has an approved Form I-600A may file their Form I-600 either with USCIS domestically or in person at Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Harare.

      If only one spouse is traveling to Harare, he or she must sign the Form I-600 petition under oath before a consular officer.  The parent who is not traveling must sign the petition after all of the information related to the child has been entered onto the form.  Either spouse may sign the Form I-600 application as the “prospective petitioner” with the other signing as the “spouse,” unless the married couple consists of one U.S. citizen and one non-citizen, in which case the U.S. citizen must be the “prospective petitioner” on both Forms I-600A and I-600 and sign the application before the consular officer.  A third party may not sign or file the petition on behalf of the prospective adoptive parents, even with their Power of Attorney.

      All immigrant visas are processed at the U.S. Embassy in Harare by appointment only on Tuesdays.  Applicants can walk in for information or to submit documents Monday through Thursday from 2:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m.  The Consular Section answers telephone inquiries Monday through Thursday from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. (Tel: 263-4-250593/4).  Specific questions about adoption in Zimbabwe may be addressed via email to the U.S. Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe at consularharare@state.gov.

      Note:  Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes at least 24 hours.  It is not normally possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the same day as the immigrant visa interview.  Adoptive parents should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in Harare before making final travel arrangements.

    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.

  • After Adoption

    Zimbabwe 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.

  • 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 Zimbabwe
    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 Zimbabwe, 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 enroll your trip with the Department of State.  Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary.  Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Zimbabwe, 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).

  • Contact Information

    U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe
    American Embassy
    172 Herbert Chitepo Avenue
    Harare, Zimbabwe
    Tel:  263-4-250593/4
    Fax:  263- 4-250343
    Email:  consularharare@state.gov
    Internet:  harare.usembassy.gov/

    Zimbabwe’s Adoption Authority
    Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare
    Harare Central District
    Social Welfare Office
    P.O. Box CY 562
    Causeway
    Bulawayo:  +236-9-465-567
    Gweru:  +263-54-225-526/223-037/226-742
    Masvingo:  +263-39-263-476/263-478
    Mutare :  +263-20-64-416/60-805

    Embassy of Zimbabwe
    1608 New Hampshire Ave., N.W.
    Washington D.C.  20009
    Tel:  (202) 332-7100, (301) 263-9826
    Email:  info33@zimbabwe-embassy.us
    Internet:  zimbabwe-embassy.us/

    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

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  • Hague Convention Information

    Zimbabwe is not a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention).  Under the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA), which became effective on July 14, 2014, the accreditation requirement and standards, which previously only applied in Convention cases, now also apply in non-Convention or “orphan” cases.  The UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider acts as a primary provider in every case, and that adoption service providers providing adoption services on behalf of prospective adoptive parents be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider.  Adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents should review the State Department’s Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 webpage for further information.  Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Convention countries continue to be processed under the Orphan Process with the filing of the Forms I-600A and I-600.  However, adoption service providers should be aware of the information on the USCIS website on the impact on Form I-600A and Form I-600 adjudications under the UAA, including the requirement that all home studies, including home study updates and amendments, comply with the Convention home study requirements, which differ from the orphan home study requirements that were in effect before July 14, 2014.

    Intercountry adoption in Zimbabwe is rare.  Prospective adoptive parents should be prepared to face significant bureaucratic hurdles and delays when attempting to adopt in Zimbabwe.

    Zimbabwe’s adoption authority, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, prefers to place Zimbabwean children with parents of the same race.  The Minister of Labour and Social Services must approve all interracial adoptions.  In addition, the Zimbabwean government discourages intercountry adoptions and may make additional demands before finalizing an adoption for parents who are not citizens of Zimbabwe.  Some of these additional demands include counseling for the prospective adoptive child and prospective adoptive parents, and requiring prospective adoptive parents to submit a completed home study report which includes visits by a Zimbabwean social worker to their place of residence.  The home study that prospective adoptive parents submit to USCIS with their Form I-600A or I-600 normally suffices.

    Note:  Prospective adoptive parents not living in Zimbabwe must obtain a residency waiver from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare before their adoption application is approved.

    Adoptions where the birth parent(s) relinquish a child directly to the prospective adoptive parents are referred to as “nominated” or “directed” adoptions.  Nominated or directed adoption is legal in Zimbabwe. However, this type of adoption may not meet the guidelines for immigration to the United States.  Prospective adoptive parents involved in nominated or directed adoption should contact the U.S. Embassy in Harare before formalizing an adoption agreement to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed that will make it possible for the Embassy to issue a U.S. immigrant visa to the adopted child.

  • U.S. Immigration Requirements For Intercountry Adoptions

    To bring an adopted child to the United States from Zimbabwe, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt a child from another country and bring that child to live in the United States under U.S. immigration law.

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

  • Who Can Adopt

    In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt from Zimbabwe must meet the following requirements:

    • Residency: Prospective adoptive parents must be either citizens or legal residents of Zimbabwe. If the prospective adoptive parents do not live in Zimbabwe, they must request a waiver of the residency requirement from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. 
    • Age of Adopting Parents: Married prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years older than the prospective adoptive child. Single women must be at least 21 years older. There are no other age restrictions for prospective adoptive parents. Please note, however, that an unmarried U.S. citizen must be at least 25 years of age when the Form I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative is filed. If the unmarried U.S. citizen was not 25 years of age at the time of the actual adoption, the unmarried U.S. citizen must wait until his or her 25th birthday to file the petition.
    • Marriage: Prospective adoptive parents adopting as a couple must be married. The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare must approve any exception to this requirement. With approval, single women may adopt any child eligible for adoption, but single men may only adopt family members. Adoption by gay, lesbian, or same-sex couples is not permitted.
    • Income: Prospective adoptive parents must prove financial stability.
    • Other: The approval of the Minister of Social Welfare is required for all interracial adoptions. All prospective adoptive parents must have a clean criminal record.

  • Who Can Be Adopted

    In addition to qualifying as an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the child must meet the following requirements of Zimbabwe:

    • Relinquishment: Written consent to the adoption must be provided by each of the prospective adoptive child’s birth parents, who is living and can be located. The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare determines whether a child is eligible for adoption.
    • Abandonment: A child whose birth parents are deceased, or who was abandoned, is available for adoption at the determination of the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. Death certificates are normally required in cases where the birth parents are deceased, to demonstrate the child’s orphan status. If the child was abandoned, evidence of abandonment may be required.
    • Age of Adoptive Child:  The prospective child must be under 18 years of age. A waiver from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare is required for children over the age of 18. Please note that for a child to meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child who has immigrated or will immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)).
    • Sibling Adoptions: None Specified.
    • Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Zimbabwean law does not require disclosure of a child’s HIV status.
    • Waiting Period or Foster Care: The waiting period is normally a minimum of six months.

    Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are eligible for adoption. 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 the adoption of their child(ren).

  • How To Adopt

    Zimbabwe’s Adoption Authority

    Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare

     

    The Process

     

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

     

    1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

    2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-600A)

    3. Apply to Zimbabwe’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child

    4. Adopt the Child in Zimbabwe (or Obtain Legal Custody of the Child for Purposes of Emigration and Adoption)

    5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan

       (Form I-600)

    6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

     

    There are two tracks to adoption in Zimbabwe:

     

    Track One – If the prospective adoptive parents have not yet identified a child, they may first file a general Application to Adopt at the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare headquarters in Zimbabwe. Once the application is approved, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare will help to identify an appropriate child. The Ministry may recommend a particular child for adoption.

     

    Track Two – If the prospective adoptive parents have identified the child they wish to adopt, they must visit the Social Services Office in their district to open a case file and file an application to adopt the child.

     

    Note: Not every child in a Zimbabwean orphanage is eligible for adoption, and there is no central registry for identifying eligible children. Only by receiving authorization to adopt the child from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare can the prospective adoptive parents conclude that the child is eligible for adoption.

     

    1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

     

    Before taking steps to adopt a child from Zimbabwe, you should select a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider to be the primary provider in your case. As of July 14, 2014, a primary provider is required in every intercountry adoption case under the UAA, unless an exception applies. The primary provider is responsible for:

    ·         Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided;

    ·         Supervising and being responsible for supervised providers where used (see 22 CFR 96.14); and

    ·         Developing and implementing a service plan in accordance with 22 CFR 96.44.

     

    For more information on primary providers and the UAA, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012.

     

    Although anyone may submit documents on behalf of the prospective adoptive parent(s), they may not act on behalf of the prospective adoptive parent. This means the prospective adoptive parents must be present in Zimbabwe during all of the key steps in the adoption process, including identification of the child, obtaining documentation, and all administrative and court proceedings. Adoptions can only be facilitated through the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. A Zimbabwean court order without the recommendation of the Ministry is not considered a legal adoption and will not be considered valid for U.S. immigration purposes. All prospective adoptive parents should begin the adoption process with the Ministry or their district Social Welfare Officer.

     

    2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt

     

    In order to adopt a child from Zimbabwe, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Zimbabwe and U.S. immigration law.

     

    To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also choose to file a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, with USCIS to be found suitable and eligible to adopt before you identify a child to adopt. You may also choose to file the Form I-600 petition along with all the required Form I-600A application supporting documentation, including an approved home study, once you have been matched with a child and have obtained all the necessary documentation. Please see the USCIS website for more information about filing options. Regardless of which approach you take, the home study must meet the same requirements. As of July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, the home study must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311 and 22 CFR Part 96.47.

     

    3. Apply to Zimbabwe’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child

     

    If you are found suitable and eligible to adopt under U.S. law, you must also submit an adoption application to the Ministry of Public Service Labor and Social Welfare of Zimbabwe to be found eligible to adopt by Zimbabwe.

     

    If a child is eligible for intercountry adoption, the competent adoption authority or other authorized entity in Zimbabwe will review your adoption dossier and, if an appropriate match is found, will provide you with a referral. We encourage families to consult with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but each family must decide for itself whether it will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for, a specific child, and must conform to the recommendations in the home study for the number of children and capacity to deal with any special needs of an adoptive child. Learn more about Health Considerations.

     

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

     

    If the prospective adoptive parents have not already identified a child for adoption, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare will assist them in identifying an appropriate child.

     

    As mentioned above, adoptions involving birth parent(s) who relinquish a child directly to the prospective adoptive parents (referred to as “nominated” or “directed” adoptions) are legal in Zimbabwe, but such adoptions may not meet the guidelines for immigration to the United States.

     

    4. Adopt the Child in Zimbabwe (or Obtain Legal Custody of the Child for Purposes of

       Emigration and Adoption)

     

    The process for finalizing the adoption (or obtaining legal custody for purposes of emigration and adoption) in Zimbabwe generally includes the following:

     

    ·         Role of Adoption Authority: The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare approves the general application to adopt and refers the case to the Juvenile Court.

     

    ·         Role of the Court: The Juvenile Court reviews the case. If approved, the court will issue an adoption order and release the child for immigration.

     

    ·         Role of Adoption Agencies: Licensed attorneys, adoption service providers, or anyone else may submit documents on behalf of the prospective adoptive parent(s) but may not act on behalf of the prospective adoptive parent.

     

    Starting July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, there must be a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider acting as the primary provider in every case. Also, any agency or person providing an adoption service on behalf of prospective adoptive parents in any Convention or non-Convention case must be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service means any one of the following six services:

    o   Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption;

    o   Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption;

    o   Performing a background study on a child or a home study on a prospective adoptive parent(s), and reporting on such a study;

    o   Making non-judicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for the child;

    o   Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption; or

    o   When necessary because of a disruption before final adoption, assuming custody and providing (including facilitating the provision of) child care or any other social service pending an alternative placement. 22 CFR 96.2 Definitions.

     

    ·         Adoption Application: Prospective adoptive parents who have not identified a child should submit the general application to adopt to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare' district office where they live. If the prospective adoptive parents have identified a child, they must visit the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Office in their district to open a case file and have an officer assigned to work on the prospective adoptive parents' case.

     

    NOTE: Prospective adoptive parents who do not live in Zimbabwe must obtain a residency waiver from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare before the adoption application can be approved

     

    ·         Time Frame: Adoptions in Zimbabwe can take anywhere from three months to seven years once the Application to Adopt has been approved and a child has been identified. An increasing number of prospective adoptive parents abandon their plans to adopt a Zimbabwean child due to serious bureaucratic delays within the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and the Juvenile Courts. Wait times for Caucasian and mixed-race children can take considerably longer.

     

    ·         Adoption Fees:  Neither the Government of Zimbabwe nor the courts charge adoption fees. Adoptive parents pay a fee of approximately U.S. $2 to the Registrar General's Office of Births and Deaths (located in Harare or Bulawayo) for the child's birth certificate.

     

    Prospective adoptive parents are advised to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either by themselves directly or through their U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to U.S. law, or the law of Zimbabwe, with your adoption service provider. Please also refer to information concerning the Hague Complaint Registry.  Improper payments may have the appearance of buying achild, violate applicable law, and could put all future adoptions in Zimbabwe at risk. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to bribe foreign government officials to obtain or retain business. Further, the UAA and IAA make it unlawful to improperly influence relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing Central Authority functions.

     

    ·          Documents Required: The following documents are required to adopt a child from Zimbabwe:

    o   Identity documents (passport, birth certificate, etc.)

    o   Marriage certificate

    o   Police clearances from both the United States and Zimbabwe

    o   Supporting documents attesting to the prospective adoptive parent's eligibility and suitability to adopt, such as an approved U.S. home study report

    o   Three or four references from non-relatives of the prospective adoptive parents (required as part of the Application to Adopt

     

    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. The U.S Department of State’s Authentications Office has information on the subject.

     

    5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States as an

       Orphan

     

    After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody for purposes of emigration and adoption) in Zimbabwe, USCIS must determine whether the child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law in order for the child to immigrate to the United States. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. At the time you file your Form I-600 petition, the adjudicating officer will determine whether the UAA applies or if your case is UAA grandfathered. For more information on UAA grandfathering and transition cases, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012. Unless an exception applies, you must identify a primary provider in your case and the adjudicating officer may ask for the name and contact information of the primary provider if not provided in your Form I-600 petition. This information is required and, without it, your Form I-600 petition cannot be approved.

     

    If you have an approved, valid Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, you may file your Form I-600 petition either in the United States with USCIS or in person at the U.S. Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe.

     

    When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by USCIS in the United States, the consular section in Harare, Zimbabwe must complete a Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption (sometimes informally referred to as an orphan determination), to verify the child’s orphan status. When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by an international USCIS office, USCIS generally completes the Form I-604 determination.

     

    For Form I-600 petitions filed with the Embassy’s consular section, the consular officer must complete the Form I-604 determination after you file your Form I-600 petition. Conducting the Form I-604 determination is a critical part of the orphan adoption process. It can take months to complete, depending upon the circumstances of your case. Consular officers appreciate that families are eager to bring their adopted child home as quickly as possible. Some of the factors that may contribute to the length of the process include prevailing fraud patterns in the country of origin, civil unrest or security concerns that restrict travel to certain areas of the country, and the number of determinations performed by available staff. Consular officers make every effort to conduct them as quickly and thoroughly as possible. You are advised to keep your travel plans flexible while awaiting the results.

     

    6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

     

    Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States) and the Form I-604 determination has been completed finding that your child meets the legal definition of an orphan for immigration purposes, there are a few more steps to take before you and your child can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

     

    Birth Certificate

    If you have finalized the adoption in Zimbabwe, 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 legal custody for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.

     

    Zimbabwe Passport

    Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Zimbabwe.

     

    Applications for Zimbabwe passports are made through the Registrar General's district offices. The following fees apply: U.S. $50 for routine processing, which takes more than a month to process; U.S. $318 for expedited processing, which takes one day to process; and U.S. $253 for a passport, which takes about three working days to process. Below is a list of telephone numbers for Zimbabwe District Offices. The U.S. Embassy in Harare notes that it may be more efficient for prospective adoptive parents to go in person to apply for a Zimbabwean passport because at times, these telephones are not answered:

     

    Harare: +263-4-702-295

    Bulawayo: +263-9-68-491

    Gweru: +263-54-223-155

    Masvingo: +263-39-263-876/263-705

    Mutare: +263-20-60-701/60-276

    Bindura: +263-71-6511/6119

    Chinhoyi: +263-67-23-013

    Gwanda: +263-84-22-587/22-618

     

    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 Harare. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.

     

    Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). If you filed a Form I-600 petition in the United States, you should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the petition and assignment of a case number and an invoice ID number. You will need this information to log into CEAC to file the DS-260 for your child. An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Print and bring the DS-260 form confirmation page to the visa interview. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.

     

    All immigrant visas are processed at the U.S. Embassy in Harare by appointment only on Tuesdays. Applicants can walk in for information or to submit documents Monday through Thursday from 2:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. The Consular Section answers telephone inquiries Monday through Thursday from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. (Tel: 263-4-250593/4). Specific questions about adoption in Zimbabwe may be addressed via email to the U.S. Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe at consularharare@state.gov.

    Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes 24 hours. It is not usually possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the same day as the immigrant visa interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in Harare before making final travel arrangements.

     

    Child Citizenship Act

    For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: An adopted child residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence generally will acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry into the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including the child is under the age of eighteen.

     

    For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s entry into the United States and before the child turns eighteen for the child (if he or she otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000) to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.

     

    Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

  • Traveling Abroad

    Applying for Your U.S. Passport

    U.S. citizens are required to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Once your child has acquired U.S. citizenship, s/he will need a U.S. passport for any international travel. 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 Department of State’s 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 Zimbabwe

    In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Zimbabwe, 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 in the world about various issues, including health conditions, crime, 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 enroll with the Department of State through our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country. Enrollment makes it possible for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Zimbabwe, to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.

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

  • After Adoption

    Zimbabwe 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. Your primary provider can provide or point you to post- placement/post-adoption services to help your adopted child and your family transition smoothly and deal effectively with the many adjustments required in an intercountry adoption.

    Here are some places to start your support group search:

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

    COMPLAINTS

    If you have concerns about your adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in Harare, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Department of State takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously. Our Adoption Comment Page provides several points of contact for adoptive families to comment on their adoption service provider, their experience applying for their child’s visa, or about the Form I-600 petition process.

    The Hague Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers. If you think your provider's conduct may have been out of substantial compliance with accreditation standards, first submit your complaint in writing directly to your provider. If the complaint is not resolved through the provider's complaint process, you may file the complaint through the Hague Complaint Registry

  • Contact Information

    U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe

    American Embassy
    172 Herbert Chitepo Avenue
    Harare, Zimbabwe
    Tel: (263) 4-250593/4
    Fax: (263) 4-250343
    Email: consularharare@state.gov
    Internet: https://zw.usembassy.gov/embassy/harare/

    Zimbabwe’s Adoption Authority

    Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare
    Harare Central District
    Social Welfare Office
    P.O. Box CY 562
    Tel: (263) 4-701713/7
    Bulawayo: +236-9-465-567
    Gweru: +263-54-225-526/223-037/226-742
    Masvingo: +263-39-263-476/263-478
    Mutare : +263-20-64-416/60-805
    Internet: http://www.mpslsw.gov.zw/

     

    Embassy of Zimbabwe
    1608 New Hampshire Ave, NW
    Washington, DC 20009
    Tel: (202) 332-7100, (301) 263-9826
    Email: info33@zimbabwe-embassy.us
    Internet: zimbabwe-embassy.us

     

     

     

    Office of Children’s Issues

    U.S. Department of State
    CA/OCS/CI
    SA-17, 9th Floor
    Washington, D.C. 20522-1709
    Email: Adoption@state.gov
    Internet: adoption.state.gov

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

    For questions about immigration procedures:
    USCIS 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 application or I-600 petition:
    USCIS National Benefits Center
    Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
    Email: NBC.Adoptions@uscis.dhs.gov