Adopting a Child in Tanzania: Some Notes

DSCN1764 If you are interested in adopting a child in Tanzania you are welcome to get in touch through the contact form on our website. But please bear in mind that the orphanage will not be the only party you will need to contact. You must also contact your local social welfare office (we are based in Arusha, so this may not be your local social welfare jurisdiction) and they will start the process of assessing your suitability to be an adoptive parent. Next, you will need to contact an attorney (lawyer, advocate, commissioner for oaths, solicitor or similar) as adoption is a legal process and you will need legal advice from someone skilled in family law relating to the country in which you intend adopting. It is only after you have contacted social welfare and an attorney that they will advise you about identifying a child that is available for adoption, and whose circumstances are appropriate for you to begin the process. You may be able to get some idea of which attorneys have the relevant knowledge and experience of the law relating to adoption by using the Law Society of Tanganyika website and facilities, but there is no way to be certain of the bona fides of any kind of professional in Tanzania. Most will take on the work, regardless of their knowledge, experience or even time to dedicate to your particular circumstances.

Adopting children in Tanzania can be slow. Watoto Kicheko may be able to give advice about adoption, once you DSCN1798have carried out the above steps. Several members of our team have adopted children in Tanzania.  Below, you will find some notes and links, which we hope will be helpful.

Bearing in mind that we are not an adoption agency, the following conditions must be met:

  • A non-citizen must be resident in Tanzania for three consecutive years
  • There is no requirement to be married, but a married person must have the consent of their partner
  • You must be 25 years of age or older, and at least 21 years older than the child

How to Begin the Process of Adopting a Child:

  1. When you begin the process of adopting a child, your application is ultimately reviewed by the Commissioner for Social Welfare, at the Department of Social Welfare in Dar es Salaam. Get in touch with the Social Welfare Officer at your local Department of Social Welfare, which could be a District or Regional Office, and inform them of your intention to foster a child.
  2. The Social Welfare Officer should be able to supply you with an Application to Foster Form; fill this in and submit it with the names of 3 referees. They must be people you have known for at least 3 years, so they will probably be in a country where you have been a normal resident for some time. They can be family members or friends. They will need to be interviewed as part of the process. You can speed up the process of adopting by doing this before you set off for Tanzania.
  3. The Social Worker will need to do a home study, involving interviews with you and a visit to your home.
  4. Once all the paperwork for adopting is complete it will be sent to the Commissioner for Social Welfare in Dar es Salaam for approval.
  5. People working in other Tanzanian orphanages may also be able to advise you of children who are eligible for adoption (no known family, etc), which children are in need of a home, and any health issues you may need to consider. Many families adopting children get health checks for the child. Some may have undiagnosed conditions, some may have disabilities and some are HIV positive. You may wish to have tests and assessments carried out, but be aware that health and medical services available can be of poor quality, often requiring further confirmation and advice.
  6. Once an eligible child has been identified and you have decided to go ahead with the adoption process, you must tell Social Welfare Office of your choice. They then need to get a police abandonment certificate for the child (which can not be done until a child is 6 months old; the chance of adopting a baby younger than this is very small). This can take a few months and may be the longest wait you will face. If you are in touch with Watoto Kicheko in good time, we will be able to help get these matters addressed, and perhaps even have obtained the certificates at an early stage in the process.
  7. Upon receipt of the abandonment certificate from the police, Social Welfare should give you permission to foster. You then take the child home. It is strongly advised that you keep in close contact with Social Welfare, taking the child with you if you visit the office.
  8. Three months after this you need to write an official request to adopt the child. If your Social Welfare Officer grants your request, she will write a report and recommendation to the Commissioner for Social Welfare. Once the Commissioner writes back with permission for you to go ahead with adopting the child, you are advised to get a lawyer or advocate.
  9. Your lawyer or advocate will help you with your adoption petition. Watoto Kicheko will try to recommend a reliable professional in Arusha who has been involved in this process in the past and is familiar with the procedures.
  10. Once the petition to adopt is lodged it takes about 3 months to get an adoption hearing in court, but be prepared for postponements. If all the paperwork is correct, the judge will most likely agree to the adoption.
  11. Your lawyer or advocate should also be able to help you to obtain an Adoption Certificate for the child you are adopting, along with their passport, which must now be carried for every child leaving and arriving in the country.
  12. If you are not a Tanzanian citizen you should also get in touch with your embassy or consulate before fostering a child. They will be able to advise you about citizenship and passport for an adopted child. There may also be a requirement to register the adoption in an Adoption Register in your home country, or some similar process.

Additional Information about Adopting

The above is a summary only. Additional information about adopting can be found in the Tanzanian ‘Law of the Child Act, 2009’ [PDF]. You are advised to read the entire document as early as possible. The above steps are also outlined in a document produced by the Tanzanian Department of Social Welfare.

Administrative procedures in Tanzania and East Africa can be slow and you must be patient. After waiting for a reasonable period, you may need to send a gentle reminder and monitor every detail. You should also comply with reasonable requests, such as getting things typed, etc.

Costs : this can vary, depending upon where in Tanzania you are. It is worth your while making inquiries about adopting costs well in advance. It is also better not to depend on the advice of one person, unless you know them very well.

Contact us about Adopting

If you are interested in adopting a child from Tanzania you are welcome to email Watoto Kicheko’s directors. Several senior staff members have experience of adopting in Tanzania: info [@]

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