Adoption in Ethiopia

According to Ethiopian family law Adoption can be described as an agreement that may be created between a person and a child or between government or private orphanages and the adopted child. This idea can be found at Article 180 and 192 of The Ethiopian Family Code stated respectively. As per the Ethiopian law of adoption the adopter is required to fulfill various requirements. These requirements vary from Ethiopian Adopters and foreigner Adopters. One of such requirements is the age of the adopter and the adoptee. According to the Ethiopian Family Law the adopter must attain the age of 25 years to adopt a child.

If the adopters are spouses, one of them is required to attain the age of 25 years. As to the age of the adoptee, any child whose age is less than 18 years and under guardianship may be adopted. If a private/government orphanage is taking care of the adoption process or handing over the child to the adopters, such orphanage is required to have sufficient information about the child, his/her identity, how they received him/her and the personal, social economical status of the adopter to the government authority to follow up the well being of children. According to the Ethiopian family law, the other basic requirement for an adoption agreement to be legally acceptable is the decision of the court validating the agreement. According to Article 194(1) of the Ethiopian Family Code, unless the Ethiopian Federal First Instance courts approve the adoption agreement, the adoption agreement will not have any legal effect.

The court, in approving or refusing the contract of adoption, will apply the common yardstick of protecting the best interest of the child. If the adopter is a foreigner, in addition to the above mentioned requirements, the court requires him/her to bring documents showing the adopter’s economic, social and personal position, from the empowered authority to follow the well being of child. If the information provided by the authority is insufficient the court may order the authority for further investigation. It may also order another person or organization to provide relevant information.

Further the court will take special care about the mechanism of getting information about how the adopter will be handling. The adopter for all purposes is legally expected at least to take care of the child as his own. Here are the checklists of documents required by courts in deciding adoption cases, Requirements to Be Fulfilled by Ethiopian Adoptive Parents The documents to be submitted by the applicant from his/her permanent domicile should include:

  1. Proof of economic status from a recognized source
  2. Police clearance of applicant/s
  3. Medical certificate from recognized hospitals, clinics etc.
  4. Birth and marriage certificates
  5. Two passport-size photographs of the prospective adoption parent/s

Requirements to Be Fulfilled By Foreign Adoptive Parents

The documents to be submitted by the applicant from his permanent domicile should include:

  1. Proof of economic status from a recognized source
  2. Police clearance of applicant/s
  3. Medical certificate from recognized hospitals, clinics etc.
  4. Home study report prepared by an authorized institution
  5. Birth and marriage certificates
  6. The Agency which does the psycho-social study and recommendation on applicants must be accepted by the concerned government body of the respected countries
  7. A short statement as to why an Ethiopian child is preferred
  8. Two passport-size photographs of the prospective adoptive parent/s,
  9. “Obligation of Adoption or Social Welfare Agency” form must be forwarded together with the psychosocial study
  10. Verification by the adoption agency on qualification for naturalization under the national law of the applicant
  11. All the above-mentioned documents should be authenticated by the Ethiopian Embassy or Consulate
  12. All the above-mentioned documents should be authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia

Fikadu Asfaw practices law in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and is a member of the LawGuru Attorney Network.

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