By Jerome Ada George
At Nigerian Parents, we are dedicated to bringing our readers information that may not be readily available elsewhere. We track the interests of the Nigerian diaspora, especially in the United States, in order to enable us address emerging trends and needs. For instance, studies show that more Nigerians in the United States are now open to the idea of adoption more than ever. However, the process remains cumbersome and arduous. For that reason, we reached out to Ellen Warnock, the Associate Administrator at Catholic Charities Center for Family Services, Adoption Program, in Baltimore, Maryland. Catholic Charities has been the primary provider in approximately 350 Nigerian adoption cases. We asked Ellen to clarify some of the major missteps that adopting parents from Nigeria most commonly make. The information that she provided is in the following list:
1 Not obtaining the correct documents in Nigeria – Documentation begins with the orphanage in Nigeria. The orphanage will send adoptive parents’ intention to adopt to the Ministry of Women Affairs, and then a government official from the Ministry of Women Affairs signs the document that will be used in magistrate court for your child’s placement. At this point, the process in Nigeria has been completed.
2 Most adoptive parent complete the adoption process in Nigeria and then think that they can simply apply to USCIS for the child’s I-600 visa. But in order to complete the process for the I-600 visa, there are many other steps required by the United States government. According to Warnock, completing the process in Nigeria is, in fact, only the early stage of the process.
3 Failure to Find a Hague accredited agency – Finding a Hague accredited U.S. adoption agency that will manage your case is a crucial part of the process. Most adoptive parents do not understand that they need to do this, because the adoption has already been completed with the ministry and the courts in Nigeria. The Catholic Charities Center for Family Services, Adoption Program, is a Hague (The International Court of Justice) accredited adoption agency, and the organization is one of the few that manages adoption cases from Nigeria.
4 Failure to find a U.S.-based Primary Provider – A U.S.-based managing agency stands between adoptive parents and the American Embassy in Nigeria. Their job as managing agency is to confirm that the adoption is legal and has undergone all required scrutiny. The Catholic Charities Center for Family Services, Adoption Program, www.cc-md.org, works with Nigerian families throughout the United States.
5 Not understanding the importance of home study – Adoptive parents do not always understand the importance of home study. Home study requires the adoption agency to visit your house in order to understand the dynamics that plays out at home. The home study can be done by any adoption agency in the state where the adoptive parents live. For example, if you live in Houston, any adoption agency in Houston can do the home study. According to Warnock, the agency supervising the home study does not have to be Hague accredited, but the result of the home study will be approved by the primary provider.
6 The primary provider reviews and approves the document before the adoptive parents present their case before USCIS for the I-600 visa. According to Warnock, the timeline for a successful adoption process varies. However, it can all go more quickly if the required documents and papers are filed on time.
From the Ministry of Women Affairs to the magistrate in charge of adoptions, the American embassy in Nigeria has sample signatures of every government official in Nigeria who is involved in the process of adoption. In other words, they know when the signatures do not match the ones that they have on file
You can reach Ellen Warnock at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 667-600-2411
By Jerome Ada George