South Africa Adoption
Under South African laws, inter-country adoptions are governed under the Child Care Act, No. 74 of 1983. Under this Act, inter-country adoption was not allowed and a section in the Act prohibited foreigners from adopting South African-born children, unless one of the adoptive parents was a South African citizen resident in South Africa or otherwise had residential qualifications and had applied for naturalization. However, with the inception of the new government in May 1994 and passage of the new Constitution, along with a specific Constitutional Court decision in the year 2000, drastic changes have been made to the Act and American citizens are now able to adopt South African-born children.
Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S. based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and licensing office of the Department of Health and Family Services in the state where the agency is located.
GENERAL: The following is a guide for U.S. citizens who are interested in adopting a child in South Africa and applying for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. This process involves complex foreign and U.S. legal requirements. U.S. consular officers give each petition careful consideration on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the legal requirements of both countries have been met, for the protection of the prospective adoptive parent(s), the biological parents(s) and the child. Interested U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to contact U.S. consular officials in South Africa before formalizing an adoption agreement to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed which will make it possible for the Embassy to issue a U.S. immigrant visa for the child.
AVAILABILITY OF CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans:
FY-1997 IR-3 immigrant visas issued to South Africa orphans adopted abroad
SOUTH AFRICAN ADOPTION AUTHORITY:
Commissioner of Child Welfare
Department of Social Development
Adoption Procedures/Age/Residential and Civil Status Requirements:
Generally, the adoption procedure is initiated by identifying the orphan child through a welfare organization. After a home study has been completed, the case is referred to a children's court for the final hearing. An order of adoption terminates all the rights and obligations existing between the child and any legally-recognized parent. The adopted child is thereafter deemed by law to be the legitimate child of the adoptive parent(s). The order of adoption confers the surname of the adoptive parent on the adopted child.
Unmarried fathers have the right of apply for access, custody or guardianship in terms of the Natural Fathers of Children Born Out of Wedlock Act. In an earlier constitutional ruling (February 1999), the consent of the child's biological father was determined to be required before a child could be adopted. The Adoption Matters Amendment Act (December 1999) requires that the consent of the biological father, excluding rapists and incestuous fathers, be obtained before a child born out of wedlock is placed for adoption. Previously, only the consent of the biological mother was required. However, married or biological divorced fathers can prevent their wives or former wives from having their children adopted.
According to South African law, a child born to parents who are not married to each other at the time of birth is illegitimate. A child born to unmarried parents becomes legitimate as soon as they marry. Normally, the mother of an illegitimate child is not only the legal guardian of her child, but also has custody even if she is still a minor. Only if it is proven that she is unfit to have custody can the child be taken from her and placed in alternative custody. Under current laws, the birth of an illegitimate child must normally be registered in the surname of the mother; the illegitimate child may take the surname of its father only if the father has formally acknowledged this in the birth register. The mother alone has the right to decide what the child's first name or names should be.
Adoption Agencies and Attorneys:
i. The orphan's long-form birth certificate showing the biological mother's
name; also, a new full birth certificate is required showing the new adoptive
Tax returns, medical reports and police clearances should likewise be authenticated, beginning with the seal of notary public in the United States or some appropriate issuing office. The county clerk where the notary is licensed or some similar authority should authenticate the notary's seal. The document should then be authenticated by the state Secretary of State; (in your state capital) the U.S. Department of State Authentication's Office, and the South African Embassy or Consulate.
* Approved Form I-600A (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition),
* Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative,
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS
A South African child adopted by an U.S. citizen must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. There are two distinct categories of immigrant visas available to children adopted by U.S. citizens.
A Previously Adopted Child. Section 101(b)(1)(E) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act defines an "adopted child" as one who was adopted under the age of 16 and who has already resided with, and in the legal custody of, the adoptive parent for at least two years. Parents who can demonstrate that their adopted child meets this requirement may file an I-130 petition with the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (BCIS) having jurisdiction over their place of residence in the United States. Upon approval of the I-130 petition, the parents may apply for an immigrant visa for the child at the U.S. Embassy in South Africa. U.S. citizens who believe this category may apply to their adopted child should contact the U.S. Embassy in South Africa for more information.
An Orphan. If an adopted child has not resided with the adoptive parent for two years (or if the child has not yet even been adopted) the child must qualify under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act in order to apply for an immigrant visa. The main requirements of this section are as follows:
* The adoptive or prospective adoptive parent must be an U.S. citizen;
U.S. IMMIGRATION PROCEDURES FOR ORPHANS
I. The Petition.
Adoptive and prospective adoptive parents must obtain approval of a Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative (Form I-600) from the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (BCIS) before they can apply for an immigrant visa on behalf of an orphan. The adjudication of such petitions can be very time-consuming and parents are encouraged to begin the process well in advance.
A prospective adoptive parent may file Form I-600A Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (BCIS) office having jurisdiction over their place of residence. This form allows the most time-consuming part of the process to be completed in advance, even before the parent has located a child to adopt. In addition, a parent who has an approved I-600A may file an I-600 in person at the U.S. Embassy in South Africa .
Detailed information about filing these forms can be found on BCIS's web site at http://www.uscis.gov. U.S. who have adopted or hope to adopt a child from South Africa should request, at the time they file these forms, that BCIS notify the U.S. Embassy in South Africa as soon as the form is approved. Upon receipt of such notification, the Embassy will contact the parents and provide additional instructions on the immigration process. U.S. consular officers may not begin processing an orphan adoption case until they have received formal notification of approval from an BCIS office in the US.
II. The Orphan Investigation
One part of the petition process that BCIS cannot complete in advance is the "orphan investigation". An orphan investigation Form I-604 Report on Overseas Orphan Investigation) is required in all orphan adoption cases - even if an I-600 has already been approved - and serves to verify that the child is an orphan as defined by US immigration law. A consular officer performs this investigation at the time of the child's immigrant visa interview.
Visa Information & What to Expect Information:
South African Embassy in the United States:
South African Embassy
South African Consulate General
U.S. Embassy in South Africa: Americans living or traveling abroad are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov/, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the country of travel. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The Consular Section is located at:
U.S. Consulate General
U.S. Consulate General
U.S. Consulate General
Note: Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes 24 hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview.
Questions: Specific questions regarding adoption in South Africa may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818, Tel: 1-888-407-4747 with specific questions.
Information is also available 24 hours a day from several sources:
Telephone - Office of Children's Issues - recorded information regarding changes in adoption procedures and general information, 1-888-407-4747.- State Department Visa Office - recorded information concerning immigrant visas for adoptive children, (202) 663-1225.- Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security - recorded information for requesting immigrant visa application forms, 1-800-870-FORM (3676).
Internet - the Consular Affairs web site , at: http://travel.state.gov contains international adoption information flyers and the International Adoptions brochure.
BCIS web site - http://www.uscis.gov
Content provided by the U.S. State Department.