Intercountry Adoption

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Country Information

Somalia

Somalia
The Somali Republic
Do not travel to Somalia due to crime, terrorism, and piracy.

Do not travel to Somalia due to crime, terrorism, and piracy.

Violent crime, such as kidnapping and murder, is common throughout Somalia, including in Puntland and Somaliland. Illegal roadblocks are also widespread.

Terrorists continue to plot kidnappings, bombings, and other attacks in Somalia. They may conduct attacks with little or no warning, targeting airports and seaports, government buildings, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, and other areas where large crowds gather and Westerners frequent, as well as government, military, and Western convoys.   

Pirates are active in the waters off the Horn of Africa, especially in the international waters near Somalia.  

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Somalia due to the lack of permanent consular presence in Somalia.

Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of Somalia, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR). For more information U.S. citizens should consult Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

Read the Safety and Security section on the Country Information Page

If you decide to travel to Somalia:

  • Enroll your trip in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
  • Review your personal security plan and visit our page on travel to high risk areas.
  • Avoid sailing near the coast of Somalia and review the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
  • Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney.
  • Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.
  • Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so that they can manage your affairs, if you are unable to return as planned to the United States. Find a suggested list of such documents here.
  • Establish your own personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organization, or consider consulting with a professional security organization.
  • Develop a communication plan with family and/or your employer or host organization so that they can monitor your safety and location as you travel through high-risk areas. This plan should specify who you would contact first, and how they should share the information.
  • Identify key sources of possible assistance for you and your family in case of emergency, such as the local U.S. embassy or consulate, FBI, the State Department, your employer (if traveling on business), and local friends/family in the high-risk area. 
  • Be sure to appoint one family member to serve as the point of contact with hostage-takers, media, U.S. and host country government agencies, and Members of Congress, if you are taken hostage or detained.
  • Establish a proof of life protocol with your loved ones, so that if you are taken hostage, your loved ones can know specific questions (and answers) to ask the hostage-takers to be sure that you are alive (and to rule out a hoax)
  • Leave DNA samples with your medical provider in case it is necessary for your family to access them.
  • Erase any sensitive photos, comments, or other materials from your social media pages, cameras, laptops, and other electronic devices that could be considered controversial or provocative by local groups.
  • Leave your expensive/sentimental belongings behind.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Somalia.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
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Hague Convention Participation

Hague Adoption Convention Country?
No

Hague Convention Information

Somalia 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).

The Department of State has occasionally received inquiries from U.S. citizens concerned about the plight of the children of Somalia and wondering about the possibility of adopting them.  Our office shares this concern for children in Somalia and we understand that some U.S. citizens want to respond by offering to open their homes and adopting these children in need.  At this time, however, it is not generally possible to adopt Somali children for several reasons.

Although the United States has recently recognized the Somali government, an adoption authority does not yet exist in Somalia for adoption processing.

Laws in Somalia regarding adoption are unclear and may vary according to a prospective adoptive parent's religious background.  Islamic Shari'a law does not allow for full adoption of a child, as generally understood in the United States.  (Please refer to our flyer on Islamic Family Law for more information on this issue.)

Additionally, it can be extremely difficult in Somalia to determine whether children who appear to be orphans truly are eligible for adoption.  Children may be temporarily separated from their parents or other family members, and their parents may be looking for them.  It is not uncommon in a hostile situation for parents to send their children out of the area, or for families to become separated during an evacuation.  Even when it can be demonstrated that children are indeed orphaned or abandoned, they are often taken in by other relatives.  During times of crisis, it can also be exceptionally difficult to fulfill the legal requirements for adoption of both the United States and the child's country of origin.  It can be very difficult to gather documents necessary to fulfill the legal requirements of U.S. immigration law.

There are ways in which U.S. citizens can help the children of Somalia.  Many U.S. and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in Somalia say that what is needed most at this time are financial contributions to sustain their ongoing work.  Individuals who wish to assist can often do the most good by making a monetary donation to an established NGO that will be well placed to respond to Somalia's most urgent needs, including those related to its children.

The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against travel to Somalia, which remains very dangerous.  (Read the full text of Somalia Travel Warning issued by the Department of State, Office of Consular Affairs.)

Please visit the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for more information on travelling to Somalia and the U.S. Embassy Nairobi’s website for information on consular services.

U.S. Immigration Requirements

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

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Kenya
United Nations Avenue
Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone
(254) (20) 363-6451 (Monday through Thursday, 7:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 7:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.)
Emergency
(254) (20) 363-6170
Fax
(254) (20) 363-6410

Somalia Map