October 7, 2009
Adoption Alert from the Department of State
On January 26, 2009, the Government of Liberia suspended intercountry adoptions because of allegations of mismanagement and corruption in the adoption process. The U.S. Department of State cautions American citizens against filing an application to adopt a child from Liberia while the moratorium on adoption remains in effect. The U.S. Embassy remains in frequent contact with adoption officials, but there is no indication when the moratorium might be lifted.
Since the suspension took effect, the Liberian Government has formed an ad-hoc Central Adoption Authority to oversee adoptions and is working to pass adoption legislation strengthening existing laws and preventing abuses of the system. The U.S. government strongly supports the Liberian Government’s efforts to strengthen its adoption laws and regulations to provide greater transparency and safeguards for prospective adoptive children, their birth parent(s) and prospective adoptive parents.
The Government of Liberia has informed the U.S. Embassy that it will not process any adoption cases during the suspension, including those that were in progress before the suspension was announced, and that it will not permit adopted children to depart Liberia. It has also indicated that no new adoption applications should be accepted by adoption service providers, no referrals of children to prospective adoptive parents made, and no adoption petitions filed with the Liberian court while the suspension is in effect. The Liberian Government has made no provisions to grandfather cases under the existing laws. Therefore, any case in which a full and final adoption had not been completed prior to January 26, 2009 is effectively on hold.
The Government of Liberia has indicated that it is willing to consider granting an exception to certain special needs children on a case-by-case basis, though further details have not been provided. Requests may be directed to the Ad-Hoc Central Adoption Authority :
Cllr. Eva Mappy Morgan
Chair, Ad-hoc Central Adoption Authority
Ministry of Justice
Ashmun & Center Streets
Adoptive parents who were granted a full and final adoption prior to January 26, 2009 may contact the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia at AdoptionsMonrovia@state.gov to discuss the next step in processing their case.
The Department of State reminds adoptive parents that consular officers are required by law to conduct an orphan investigation (I-604) to verify the child’s orphan status prior to the issuance of an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa. Depending upon the circumstances of a case, this investigation may take several months to complete. Adoptive parents who completed a full and final adoption prior to the announcement of the suspension should therefore carefully consider whether to file their Form I-600 Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative at the USCIS district office closest to their place of residence in the U.S. or at Embassy Monrovia and are urged to contact the U.S. Embassy at AdoptionsMonrovia@state.gov before traveling to Liberia. Adoptive parents are reminded that even if an immigrant visa is issued to their adopted child, s/he may not be able to depart Liberia at this time.
Please continue to monitor adoption.state.gov for updated information.