South Africa: Continued Delays and Uncertainties

Last Updated: November 1, 2019

The Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues wishes to advise U.S. prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) and adoption service providers (ASPs) of continued, lengthy delays and uncertainties that may impact newly-adopted children’s ability to depart South Africa.  The South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has instituted new procedures for issuing new, updated identity and travel documents for adopted children which have resulted in newly-adopted children being unable to receive the documentation necessary to depart South Africa.  PAPs must obtain these documents to exit South Africa with their newly-adopted children.  Families with completed adoptions have been unable to obtain these documents for several months.  The Department of State has not received updated information about timeframes for issuing these documents for families currently in South Africa or resolution of the issue for future adoptees.

The Department is aware of the significant delays and the direct impact this has had on adoptive families and children.  The U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg and the Office of Children’s Issues will continue to follow the situation and engage with the South African government to encourage resolution.  The Office of Children’s Issues encourages all families in the process of an intercountry adoption in South Africa to work closely with their adoption service provider for up-to-date information and guidance about their specific circumstances.  Families currently in South Africa may wish to keep their travel plans flexible while they wait for new birth certificates and passports.

The Department recommends that ASPs do not refer children to U.S. families at this time as it is unknown when children may be able to exit South Africa to immigrate to the United States.

Please continue to monitor adoption.state.gov for information.  We will update this site as new information becomes available.  For questions about this notice, please email the Office of Children’s Issues at adoption@state.gov .