Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Zimbabwe Intercountry Adoption Information
Exercise increased caution in Zimbabwe due to crime and civil unrest.
Violent crime, such as assault, carjacking, and home invasion, is common. Smashing the windows of cars with the intent to steal, which can harm the driver or passengers, is also common.
Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Zimbabwe:
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.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Zimbabe, 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 Zimbabwe:
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.
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.
Zimbabwe’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare
The process for adopting a child from Zimbabwe generally includes the following steps:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Zimbabwe
The process for finalizing the adoption in Zimbabwe generally includes the following:
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.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 admission 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 if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including that the child is under the age of eighteen.
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.
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).
Zimbabwe 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.
Zimbabwe’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare
Harare Central District
Social Welfare Office
P.O. Box CY 562
Mutare : +263-20-64-416/60-805
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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