With over 5 million orphans in Ethiopia, and thousands living at institutions, the need for adoption is great. Many children are orphaned due to poverty, the residual effects of war, drought or famine, or their parents may have died of disease.
The good news is that Ethiopian adoption is getting more popular in the United States. In 2005, U.S. citizens adopted approximately 440 children from Ethiopia. That figure jumped to 1,255 in 2007.
In order to adopt, parents must meet the following requirements:
- Married couples and single women
- Age 25-50 for consideration of an infant adoption
- Must be in good health
- Must be able to show sufficient income to parent the child
- Ethiopia will not allow the adoption of a child by a gay or lesbian person
- Couples must be married a minimum of one year at the time the dossier is sent to Ethiopia
The timeframe to complete an adoption from Ethiopia takes approximately 6 to 18 months from application to placement depending on the agency. The general process consists of several steps described below:
- Apply to an Agency - The agency reviews the information in your application to determine that you meet U.S. and Ethiopian adoption requirements before you begin the adoption process. This ensures you will be able to successfully complete the adoption journey.
- Complete Homestudy - Once your application is approved, you will either have someone from your agency, or an independent third party conduct a homestudy. The homestudy process will provide you with the opportunity to learn more about adoption, help you determine your ability to parent an adopted child, and allow your social worker to learn more about you. After your homestudy report is complete, it will be sent to your agency for review and approval.
- File for USCIS Approval - Approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is required in order to bring a child from another country into the U.S. as an immediate relative.
- Prepare a dossier - A dossier is a compilation of documents you prepare in a specific fashion for submission to the Ethiopian government. Your agency will provide detailed instructions for how to complete each document.
- Authentication and Translation - Your dossier will be translated into Amharic, which is the official language in Ethiopia.
- Child Referral - Families receive a photo of the child, all medical information, and a child study which explains how the child came into care, why inter-country adoption is necessary for the child, and information on the child's development since coming into care. Families are encouraged to review the referral information with a medical professional before making the formal decision to accept the referral.
Families typically receive a referral 3 – 10 months after the dossier is complete
- Ethiopian Court Approval - The Ethiopian Court reviews the translated dossier, child information, and referral acceptance information and legally approves the adoption.
- Final Processing - Once the adoption is approved by Ethiopia, your agency's in-country staff will obtain your child’s birth certificate, passport, and set an appointment for a final medical checkup and embassy appointment.
- Travel - Family travels to Ethiopia to receive their child and obtain child’s exit Visa. Your agency will notify you when you may travel to Ethiopia to meet and receive your child. Most agencies assist families with all adoption related transportation, translation, and appointments while in country. Travel lasts approximately one week. Travel to Ethiopia is not necessary through most agencies, but is recommended. Many agencies will provide a child escort for an additional fee.
- Post-Placement - Family returns home and completes a post-placement report 1, 3, and 6 months after child’s arrival date. You must continue to submit post-placement reports annually until child turns 18 years of age.
- Finalize Adoption - For your child to become a US citizen, you must finalize the adoption in the U.S. according to state law where you reside.
For more information about adoption, please visit our pages on Adoption Costs, Frequently Asked Questions, and Resources.