Ghana is a small, beautiful country located in the heart of West Africa. Unfortunately, the economy has struggled and like other African countries, the majority of the population lives in poverty. Traditionally extended family would take on orphaned family members, but with a struggling economy, individual circumstances are often dire and they have found it increasingly more difficult to care for an additional child; this leaves many children (even toddlers) left to fend for themselves. This is not the hope or dream Ghanaians want for their children, thus opening up to the idea of international adoption. Ghana has just recently acceded to Hague Convention on International Adoption and Protection of Children, but its implementation is yet unclear. We follow the spirit of the convention in making sure all adoption procedures, including child relinquishment, are performed in ethical and transparent manner, with constant oversight by child welfare officials. As a young and emerging program, is is considered a pilot program and families should be flexible and have a pioneering attitude that will help to pave the way for future families when unforeseen delays or changes in the process occur. Please see U.S. Department of State overview for more details.
About A Child was one of the first agencies to establish an adoption program in Ghana and we were honored to help many orphaned children find their forever families in USA. A few years ago, a moratorium was introduced, eventually to be replaced by a restriction on orphans’ qualifying for international adoption. We are not sure when or how Ghana will implement the Hague Convention standards. Due to recent developments, our program has been put on hold, although adoptions are still being completed for families that were in process at the time of the Ghanaian authorities decision.
Children from 1 to 14 years old may become available for international adoption. Healthy infants are usually adopted by local families but occasionally end up in orphanages or foster homes. Recent regulations allow only for older or special-needs children to be adopted; unfortunately, no specific age limit or a list of qualifying special needs have been published officially. About A Child interprets the law as children over the age of 8 and/or children with non-correctable health issues. Siblings groups are available for adoption, but it is also possible to adopt unrelated children as well. Ghanaian children may reside in an orphanage or in a foster care situation. Public school is available, however it is not free and many children do not have the opportunity to attend school with any regularity.
Married couples may apply to adopt from Ghana. Adoptions by single women are currently not allowed by Social Welfare Department branches in the region we currently work in. Parents must be 25 years old and at least 21 years older than the child(ren) they intend to adopt. Couples over 50 may also apply to adopt from Ghana, but this is also on a case by case basis. Families with up to 6 children may adopt, but smaller families are preferred by Ghana Social Welfare for very young children. Parents with more than 6 children may apply on a case by case basis for special permission from Social Welfare. Parents with health issues and disabilities may adopt as long as your doctor will support your decision to adopt. Previous divorce is allowed.
While in the U.S. prospective families are asked to prepare a “Letter of Introduction” to be sent to our facilitator who will submit this to the Social Welfare Department and receive the application needed for adoption in Ghana. Typically, information about the child as well as photos is provided at the time of referral. About A Child does not withdraw a referral until the prospective adoptive parent(s) have had two weeks (unless extenuating circumstances involving the child’s best interests, including but not limited to, a sudden change in the medical condition of a child, the need for immediate medical treatment, or a decision by the country of origin not to permit the adoption, require a more expedited decision) to consider the needs of the child and their ability to meet those needs, and to obtain physician review of medical information and other descriptive information, including pictures of the child. A simple dossier of supporting documents, along with an approved homestudy will be sent to the Social Welfare department when a child has been identified. Social Welfare will then prepare a report on the child and adoptive family, gain final adoption permission from any biological family members, and make a recommendation for adoption to the courts.
Once a court date is set, an adoption trip to Ghana is arranged. Only one parent is required to travel to meet the child(ren) and appear in Court for the adoption. A notarized spousal power of attorney will be required. Our facilitator and attorney team will represent the family in court. After the adoption has been granted and travel documents have been issued our team will represent the adoptive family at the US Embassy in Ghana in order to obtain US immigrant visa for the child.
Please note this process is likely to change as Ghana implements Hague Convention standards and we will post more updates when we know them.
Adoptions from Ghana should take around 1-2 years, however there have been few adoptions from Ghana to date and could take less or significantly longer depending on changes in the program as it develops as well as depending on the child(ren) requested. Older or special-needs children may be referred right away, while the wait for an infant (when infant adoptions were allowed) used to be up to two years long. Typically, it takes 2-4 months for the overseas team to get through Court but unexpected circumstances and USCIS delays might extend the wait time.
Families will be required to make 2 trips. The first trip for Court, which is required by About A Child, can be just 2-3 days in length. However, we highly recommend staying in Ghana and spending as much time bonding with your child as possible and experiencing your child’s culture. The second trip, a few months after Court is after your I600 has been approved by USCIS. You will attend the exit interview with your child and in approximately 5-9 days have the child’s visa and return home with your child(ren).
Please note this timeline is likely to change as Ghana implements Hague Convention standards and we will post more updates when we know them.
A Ghanaian adoption has become less affordable in recent years due to additional steps in the adoption process designed to ensure legality and ethics of every adoption. It costs only slightly more to adopt more than one child, and American families adopting siblings groups would most likely cover a significant portion of their expenses entirely through the IRS tax credit.