The Bahamas is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, when the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008, intercountry adoption processing for The Bahamas did not change.
Bahamian law allows adoption by any person with legal status in The Bahamas (even foreign tourists). However, the number of children available for adoption is very small and the waiting list for prospective adoptive parents is very long. Bahamian citizens or legal permanent residents are generally given preference in adopting children, especially if they have a blood relationship to the child.
WHO CAN ADOPT
To bring an adopted child to United States from The Bahamas, you must be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, The Bahamas also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: There are no residency requirements for prospective adoptive parents
AGE REQUIREMENTS: At least one prospective adoptive parent must be at minimum 25 years of age and more than 21 years older than the child except for cases of relative adoption. The Bahamas requires relatives who pursue adoption to be at least 18 years of age.
MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: Single people as well as married couples may adopt. According to the laws of The Bahamas it is extremely difficult for single men to adopt girls, though the courts may make exceptions based on special circumstances.
WHO CAN BE ADOPTED
The Bahamas has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption. You cannot adopt a child in The Bahamas unless he or she meets the requirements outlined below.
In addition to these requirements, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law for you to bring him or her back to the United States. Learn more about these U.S. requirements.
Abandonment Requirements Children may be adopted by foreigners, if they are orphans (both or only known parent deceased), if they have been abandoned (the court must be satisfied that parents cannot be found), or released for adoption by their parents or legal guardian (if the child was born out-of-wedlock, only the mother needs to release the child for adoption).
Age Requirements: A child must be at least 6 weeks old to be eligible for release for adoption.
HOW TO ADOPT
The Bahama’s Adoption Authority
The Department of Social Services in the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development
The process for adopting a child from The Bahamas generally includes the following steps:
Choose an Adoption Service Provider
Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
Be Matched with a Child
Adopt the Child in The Bahamas
Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
Bring Your Child Home
1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
The first step in adopting a child from The Bahamas is usually to select a licensed agency in the United States that can help with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. Learn more about choosing the right adoption service provider.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
To bring an adopted child from The Bahamas to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-600A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
In addition to meeting the U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, you need to meet the requirements of The Bahamas as described in the Who Can Adopt section.
3. Be Matched with a Child
If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in The Bahamas will provide you with a referral to a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of a particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to The Bahamas requirements, as described in the Who Can be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law. Learn more.
4. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in The Bahamas
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in The Bahamas generally includes the following:
· ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The Department of Social Services acts as the representative of the child's interests and a lawyer is required to guide the process through the Supreme Court.
- · TIME FRAME: The Bahamian adoption process typically takes a minimum of three months to complete, though can take longer.
- · ADOPTION FEES: The U.S. Embassy in The Bahamas discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted, “donations,” or “expediting” fees, that may be requested from prospective adoptive parents. Such fees have the appearance of “buying” a baby and put all future adoptions in The Bahamas
The Bahamian government does not charge fees for adoptions. Attorneys will charge fees ranging from $1,500 to $2,000 which covers the work involved and the filing fees. The prospective adoptive parent (s) will also have to pay the costs of the guardian ad litem.
- · DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: Prospective adoptive parents must provide the following list of documents, through a Bahamian attorney, to the Supreme Court:
- o Originating Summons
- o Notice of Hearing of the Originating Summons
- o Consent to Act as the Guardian Ad Litem
- o Consent of the birth mother and/or father or legal Guardian
- o Child’s Birth Certificate
- o Affidavit of Applicants –the truth of the Statement in Support of the Application
- o Annex to Statement in Support of Application
- o Statement in Support of Application -- exhibits – birth certificate of applicant(s) Marriage certificate of the prospective adoptive parent(s)
- o First 5 pages of passport applicant(s)
- o Undertaking to pay costs of the Guardian Ad Litem
- o Appearance Report that is prepared by the Guardian Ad Litem
- o Letter of listing officer with Notice of Hearing for an Adoption Summons to go before the Judge on the AdoptionThe documents number 1 – 8 are filed and within fourteen (14) days of the date of the Originating Summons.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.
5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in The Bahamas, the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) MUST determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted (Form I-600). Learn how.
6. Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
The Bahamas Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from The Bahamas
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy for final review and approval of the child’s I-600 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the “Panel Physician’s” medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Learn more
Note: Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes at least 24 hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times at the appropriate consulate or embassy before making final travel arrangements.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when the court in the United States issues the final adoption decree.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
about the Child Citizenship Act.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave The Bahamas. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for The Bahamas, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there’s a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in The Bahamas registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
What does The Bahamas require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
We strongly urge you to comply with the wish of The Bahamas and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country’s history of positive experiences with American parents.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it’s another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here is a good place to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.