Adoption Update

The most up-to-date adoption news

Liberia

July 2008

The Ministries of Justice and Health and Social Welfare have indicated that they are carefully reviewing all adoption cases submitted to them for approval. As a result, adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents can expect an increase in the processing time.  The Government of Liberia is concerned over the increasing number of cases in which adoptive parents have decided to terminate their parent/child relationship with Liberian adoptive children.  The Ministry learned of two recent cases where Liberian adoptive children were returned to Liberia and abandoned by their adoptive parents, or placed in foster care after being adopted.  Additionally, adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents should be aware that a revised adoption law was submitted to Parliament in November 2007.  If enacted, the new law would provide additional safeguards to protect adoptive children, birth parents, and prospective adoptive parents.

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ELIGIBILITY TO ADOPT:  There are no marriage requirements or specific age requirements for adoptive parents.  The place of birth and residence of the adoptive parent are not determining factors.

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS:  None

TIME FRAME:  There are no fixed time lines or constraints on the Court’s processing of adoptions.   The adoption process, including formal relinquishment by the parent(s) if necessary, generally takes 3 to 4 weeks.   Since November 2007, prospective adoptive parents have experienced long delays, sometimes as long as 3 months in processing adoptions due to pending revision of the Liberian adoption law. 

ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS:   Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services.  Only one U.S.- based adoption agency operating in Liberia is also licensed in the United States.  Adoptive parents who choose to work with unlicensed agencies may have no recourse when the contracted agency fails to meet its obligation.  Adoptive parents have reported the following complaints:

  • child(ren) is not the age that the agency claimed or as was listed on the child’s birth certificate;
  • claimed siblings have been determined not to biologically related;
  • processing of the adoption has not been timely;
  • fee scale for services changed during the adoption process.

For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and/or the licensing authority in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed.  Please also see Important Notice Regarding Adoption Agents and Facilitators at the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs web sitetravel.state.gov.

ADOPTION FEES IN LIBERIA:  Official government fees associated with adoptions in Liberia are minimal and consist mainly of court filing costs.  Such filing fees are normally less than $12,000 USD.  The cost of employing local counsel varies, but the adoptive parents can expect to pay several hundred dollars at a minimum for an attorney.    Liberian has proposed legislation that has not yet been approved that will increase fees for processing paper work through the Courts and the Ministry of Justice from $5 to $1,500.  Monies from these fees will be used by the Ministries to hire more social workers and court clerks, and for general operation of both Ministries.

The U.S. Embassy in Liberia discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted, “donations,” or “expediting” fees, that may be requested from prospective adoptive parents.  Such fees have the appearance of “buying” a baby and put all future adoptions in Liberia at risk.

ADOPTION PROCEDURES:  Most adoptive parents normally work with an adoption agency in the U.S., which in turn liaises with an orphanage or organization in Liberia prior to initiating the adoption process. The organization in Liberia must be registered with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

A petition for adoption must be filed with the Probate Court. The petition must contain the name, age, residence and martial status of the petitioners. The name, date and place of birth of the child, the date and manner in which the petitioners acquired custody of the child, facts (if any) that render consent of either parent unnecessary, the petitioners’ desire to adopt the child and the child’s change of name, should also be contained in the petition.

The court will also require written consent by the biological parents. If the child was born in wedlock, the consent of both parents is required. If the child was born out of wedlock, only the mother must consent. If the child is 16 years of age or older, only the child need consent to the adoption. Please note that a child who is 16 years old or older is not considered a “child” by the Immigration and Nationality Act and therefore may be ineligible to immigrate to the United States . Parental consent is not required if the parents have abandoned the child, if the parental rights have been legally terminated, if the parents are deceased or if a legal guardian has been appointed by the court. During the proceedings, the biological parents may withdraw consent, which must be permitted by the court. Consent is irrevocable after the final order of adoption.

Upon receipt of a petition for adoption, the Court schedules a hearing and serves notice on all interested parties. The petitioners or their legal representative, the parent, parents, or guardian(s) of the child and the child are required to attend the hearing, though the court may waive the appearance of the child for good cause. This waiver must be stated in the order of adoption. All hearings are public, and held in open court. The court must be satisfied that the “moral and temporal interests” of the child will be satisfied by the adoption. Upon this showing, the adoption is ordered.

In addition to obtaining a statement of relinquishment from the biological parent or legal guardian of the child being adopted , no adoption decree can be issued without an approved case summary from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MHSW).  A case summary from the   MHSW   is issued only after a social worker has investigated the case thoroughly and concluded that adoption is in the best interest of the child, and the Minister or one of his deputies has reviewed all of the legal paperwork necessary to process an adoption in Liberia .  This requirement has added time to the processing of adoptions, but is in the best interest of all parties, and is strongly endorsed by the Embassy.  The Consular Section of the Embassy will not process any petition to classify an orphan as an immediate relative for the purpose of immigration until the Liberian Ministry of Health has signed off on the adoption.  As with an adoption decree, the amount of time it takes to obtain an approved case summary has been increased pending approval of a revised adoption law.

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR ADOPTION IN  LIBERIA :

  • Petition for adoption;
  • Written consent of the biological parent(s) to the adoption acknowledged before an officer of the court (normally the Justice of the Peace).  While a letter of consent is all that is required by Liberian Courts, a formal letter of relinquishment, in which the parent(s) or guardian(s) irrevocably relinquish their rights, is required by U.S. immigration law in order to classify an orphan as an immediate relative for purposes of immigration, and this letter can be used to meet the requirements of Liberian law.)

Other documents required by Liberian courts in adoption cases include normal identity documentation, such as a passport and birth certificate.  Prospective adoptive parents will also need these documents to apply for the immigrant visa at the Embassy.

(All information taken from the U.S. Department of State website)

http://www.travel.state.gov/family/adoption/country/country_413.html

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4 Comments »

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    Comment by Hailey Bemberry | August 15, 2012 | Reply

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    Comment by lista de emails | August 16, 2012 | Reply

  3. wonderful post, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector don’t notice this. You should continue your writing. I am confident, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!

    Comment by Dek all | August 19, 2012 | Reply

    • Thanks! I am glad that it is helpful to you. Reader base is not huge by any means, but that’s okay!

      Comment by adoptionupdate | August 27, 2012 | Reply


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