Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Djibouti Intercountry Adoption Information
Exercise normal precautions in Djibouti.
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Djibouti:
Last Update: Reissued after periodic review with minor edits.
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.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Djibouti, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. USCIS determines who is suitable and eligible to 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 definition of an 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.
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, you must also meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Djibouti:
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, Djibouti has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption:
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.
Tribunal de Première Instance de Djibouti
The process for adopting a child from Djibouti generally includes the following steps:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
The government of Djibouti does not have any post-adoption requirements.
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.
Djibouti’s Adoption Authority
Office of the Secretary
Tribunal de Première Instance
Ministère de la Justice
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
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about filing a Form I-800A application or a Form I-800 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC):
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-913-275-5480 (local); Fax: 1- 913-214-5808
For general questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS Contact Center
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
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