April 4, 2017
The Department of State has received numerous inquiries regarding which individuals and adoption service providers are authorized to work on adoption cases in Sierra Leone, and whether the government of Sierra Leone has designated one or more individuals to provide such services.
U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents pursuing adoption from any foreign country, including Sierra Leone, must work with a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider as their “primary provider.” That primary provider may enter into a supervised provider agreement with agencies or individuals in the child’s country of origin who facilitate the provision of adoption services in that country. Please be advised the U.S. government does not require or recommend any prospective adoptive parent to work with any specific adoption service provider or individual. Neither does the U.S. government proscribe which specific agencies or individuals an adoption service provider might enter into supervised provider agreements with.
The U.S. Embassy in Freetown confirmed with Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender, and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA) that the MSWGCA has not authorized or designated any particular individual or individuals to facilitate adoptions from Sierra Leone. The Embassy also confirmed there are many adoption providers registered in Sierra Leone and working directly with MSWGCA.
Prospective adoptive parents, as well as those families who are already in the process of adopting in Sierra Leone, should review the Sierra Leone information page on the Office of Children’s Issues’ web site. In addition, pages pertaining to an overview of the intercountry adoption process, the Non-Convention Country Adoption Process, and the Non-Convention Country Visa/Immigration Process may provide helpful background information relevant to Sierra Leone, which is not party to the Hague Adoption Convention.
The Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA) implemented the Convention in the United States. An important requirement under the IAA is that U.S. citizens applying to adopt a child from a country that is also party to the Convention must work with a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider (an adoption agency). In July 2014, the Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 extended this requirement to intercountry adoption from countries not party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Consequently, all intercountry adoptions to the United States must involve a U.S. accredited adoption service provider, or a service provider that is supervised by a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider or that isan exempted provider. Individuals who provide any of the six adoption services without being accredited, approved, supervised, or exempted may be subject to civil or criminal penalties.
Prospective adoptive parents seeking information about accredited ASPs with Sierra Leone adoption programs may wish to review The Council on Accreditation’s (COA) website, which has a search function. Type the name of the country from which you want to adopt in the top field and check the box for Hague adoption service provider to search. Please note agencies provide information to COA for this purpose on a voluntary basis. Therefore, it is possible that some accredited agencies willing to act as primary provider in an intercountry adoption from Sierra Leone may not be listed there. COA’s web page offers some guidance about Finding a Primary Provider that may also be helpful.
Please send questions about this Notice or any other intercountry adoption matter to the Office of Children’s Issues at Adoption@state.gov.